Archive for April, 2011

Acquiring Minds

Bojan Šarčević, "She," 2010, onyx, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2011.4, © Bojan Šarčević, courtesy of the artist and STUART SHAVE/MODERN ART

We’d like to introduce you to She, a sculpture by Bojan Šarčević that will make its DMA debut on May 29 in the Silence and Time contemporary art exhibition. And “she” is a recent acquisition. So that got us thinking: how do works of art enter the Museum’s collections?  We spoke with Carol Griffin, our Associate  Registrar and the Museum’s point person on the acquisition process, to get some answers.

To begin, DMA curators look specifically for objects based on aesthetic quality, ability to be exhibited, potential for research and scholarship, and relevance to the Museum’s mission and current holdings. They are always searching for works of art to fill certain “gaps” or to complement works that are already in our collections. They find these objects by talking to knowledgeable collectors and art dealers, visiting galleries, and attending art auctions and fairs. Not all acquisitions are purchases, she points out. A significant number of works are acquired by gift and bequest. In many of these cases, curators actively seek the objects; in others, donors serendipitously initiate the offer.

But when a curator has ID-ed something for potential acquisition, he or she will discuss the opportunity with colleagues and advisors, including fellow DMA curators, trustees, and, of course, the Director. Certain works must be examined by a conservator and, perhaps, other experts to verify condition or authenticity. Once these people have signed off, the curator presents a proposal about the work to the Museum’s Committee on Collections, which is made up of trustees and members of the community and meets several times a year. The committee takes into consideration opportunities to strengthen the DMA’s collections, and its members discuss potential issues like storage and maintenance for the proposed works. The artworks under consideration are present at each meeting so that the Committee can see them rather than make judgments based on photographs. Only after all of these steps are completed can a work of art be acquired by the Museum.

Next up, in order for each object to travel to the Museum and be housed safely, the DMA’s team of registrars develops a plan to address logistics—including crating, transportation, insurance, and storage, and dealing with customs regulations if a work is coming from overseas. Each crate is usually custom made, with special material precautions, to best protect an individual object. For example, an ancient marble sculpture needs different packaging than a quilt, a wooden mask, or a painting. Once the work of art arrives at the DMA, our registrars and conservator thoroughly examine its condition, making notes and taking photos to document its present state. The artwork is then catalogued with an acquisition number based on the year and the order in which it was acquired, and a file is created for relevant information and research about the object. Some of this information is included on the label that accompanies a work of art in the galleries and can also be found in the Collections section of the DMA website.

So, what else has the Museum purchased recently? Next time you visit, look for Gustav Stickley’s linen chest from 1903 (currently featured in the exhibition Gustav Stickley and the American Arts & Crafts Movement), which was acquired by the Museum in 2008. In the European galleries, check out the painting Chestnut Trees by Edouard Vuillard, acquired in 2010, and on Level 3, see the gold linguist’s staff (okyeame poma) in our African galleries, which was also acquired in 2010.

Linen chest, Gustav Stickley, attributed to John Seidemann, maker, United Crafts or Craftsman Workshops, manufacturer, Eastwood, New York, 1903, oak and iron, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., facilitated by American Decorative Art 1900 Foundation, 2008.22.McD

Edouard Vuillard, "Chestnut Trees, a Cartoon for a Tiffany Stained-Glass Window," 1894–95, glue-based distemper on cardboard, mounted on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, 2010.15.McD

Linguist staff ("okyeame poma") (detail), Ghana, Asante peoples, first half of 20th century, wood and gold leaf, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., 2010.1.McD

Stefanie Kae Dlugosz is the McDermott Curatorial Intern for Decorative Arts and Jacqueline Lincoln is the McDermott Education Intern for Family Experiences.

Fit for a Prince (and His Future Princess)

Millions of people around the world will watch as Prince William marries Catherine Middleton on Friday in Westminster Abbey, but only 1,900 lucky guests received invitations to attend the service, including members of the British Royal Family, religious leaders from the Church of England and other faiths, and international dignitaries. Did you receive that coveted gilded invitation from the Queen and need something special to wear to the wedding of the century? Let the DMA’s collections offer some wardrobe inspiration . . .

Etruscan, Pair of bauletto earrings, 6th century B.C., gold, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. James H. Clark

No Royal Wedding outfit would be complete without glittering jewelry, and these ancient Etruscan earrings (from the 6th century B.C.) would complement a smart spring suit or frock. Known as bauletto (or “little bag”) for their cylindrical shape, these earrings originally would have been suspended on hooks. Each earring is decorated with an elaborate floral motif, created by fine gold filigree wire and tiny gold globules.

Yotoco period, Headdress ornament with heads flanked by crested crocodiles, c. A.D. 1-700 (?), gold, Dallas Museum of Art, The Nora and John Wise Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jake L. Hamon, the Eugene McDermott Family, Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, and Mr. and Mrs. John D. Murchison

This extravagant headdress would have been only one component of ceremonial regalia worn by men in the Calima region of Colombia about 2,000 years ago. Imagine the gleaming image of a wedding guest outfitted from head to toe in gold – including ear ornaments, pectorals, bracelets, and anklets. This ornament probably would have been attached to a cloth headdress, like a turban, and its gold dangles produced a soft ringing as the wearer moved.

Charles Willson Peale, “Rachel Leeds Kerr”, 1790, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Pauline Allen Gill Foundation

Both Catherine Middleton and her future grandmother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II, are well known for their shared taste in glamorous hats (compare their recent looks and vote on your favorite here). Whether the bride will wear a hat, tiara, or flowers on her wedding day remains a secret, but we can surely expect a parade of fanciful millinery from the guests at Westminster Abbey. This elaborate hat must have been a favorite of Mrs. Rachel Leeds Kerr, as she wore it when sitting for her portrait by leading American artist Charles Willson Peale in 1790. Wearing this sumptuous topper would signify Mrs. Kerr’s wealth, fashionable taste, and high social status—just as a fabulous hat does today.

Abraham Portal, Huntingdon wine cistern, 1761-1762, silver, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Patricia D. Beck

Guests to the Royal Wedding have more to think about than clothes, jewelry, and accessories; a wedding gift for William and Catherine is an equally important consideration. Silver serving pieces are often cherished wedding gifts for any bride and groom, but buying for royal couples demands something truly special, such as the monumental Huntingdon wine cistern. In fact, this magnificent piece was used to hold ice and chill wine in the home of Frances Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon, who was appointed to the cabinet of the King of England in the late 18th century. Weighing more than eighty pounds (empty!), it would be the perfect centerpiece at any royal party. If we could, we would fill it with bottles of champagne to toast William and Catherine on their wedding day.

Cheers!

Lisa Kays is Manager of Adult Programming at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Seldom Scene: Fancy Dancing

On Saturday we welcomed hundreds of visitors to our Art of the American Indians Family Celebration, a day of fun activities, performances featuring the Oklahoma Fancy Dancers, art, tours, and a special sneak peek of the exhibition Art of the American Indians: The Thaw Collection. Below are a few pictures from the day. Join us on Friday, May 20, to celebrate this exhibition during Late Night.

Photos by Chad Redmon, Photographer at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Artfully Green


Reduce, reuse, and recycle. As Earth Day rolls around, we’re reminded of our impact on the environment. But what are we doing at the Dallas Museum of Art to be green? Uncrated went on a search to find out.

Each year, over half a million visitors step through the Museum’s doors, and our large building is 500,000 square feet, taking up two city blocks in downtown Dallas. Our global collections span over 24,000 works of art, and we produce an average of eighteen exhibitions each year. We have an underground parking garage, a cafe, a store, and over two hundred employees.

With this large footprint, we were excited to find out about some long-standing practices and a few new ones that the DMA is using to reduce its impact on the environment:

  • Three years ago, The City of Dallas and the DMA retrofitted the building’s entire energy management systems in order enhance energy efficiency. Efforts included replacing our boiler and chillers, adding eco-friendly light bulbs, low flow toilets and water fixtures throughout the museum. As a result, utility consumption has been reduced over 50%.
  •  The Museum has a water management system throughout the building. It is a smart system with rain sensors for our hardscape and landscaping.
  •  We added healthier, more drought-tolerant trees along the Museum bordering St. Paul Street.
  •  All chemicals and cleaning agents used at the DMA are eco-friendly.
  •  DMA employees are offered a discount to ride the DART system to work. There is a bicycle rack located on Ross Avenue Plaza.
  •  When layouts of our galleries are changed for new exhibitions, we reuse studs and building materials. All crates and art packing materials are reused and/or recycled.
  •  The DMA participates in a recycling program with the City of Dallas. The profits the City makes are sent into the general fund for City programs such as Park and Recreation projects and Fire Department equipment.
  •  All copy paper used at the Museum has a minimum of 30% post-consumer waste content.
  •  All of the printed materials produced by our Creative Services team are printed on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper, using an FSC-certified paper distributor, and 95% of the commercial printing (100% local) that the Museum does uses an FSC-certified printer.
  •  The admission tags that visitors receive when they visit the DMA are collected and reused. Look for boxes at the Visitor Services Desk to recycle your tag when leaving.
  •  The Museum Store features products from many local artists and craftsman and also has a wide variety of eco-friendly products.
  • Our cafe uses compostable or biodegradable disposable containers and recycles all plastic, glass bottles, paper, cardboard, wine corks, and cooking oils. This summer, we will begin working with a food composting company.
  •  The cafe menu consists of locally purchased organic produce, sourcing through local vendors within a two hundred-mile radius. Soon, the cafe will implement new infused water stations and glass-bottled waters, phasing out plastic-bottled water.

The DMA is working with the U.S. Green Building Council to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for these efforts. We hope to have our designation by August 2011.

For a selection of works on view at the Museum that incorporate recycled materials, visit our sister blog, We Art Family, for their Earth Day post. And for eco-friendly activities, emerging green technology, and thought-provoking ways to think, work, and live green in Dallas, join us today and tomorrow in the downtown Dallas Arts District for the free Earth Day Dallas Festival (the DMA will have FREE admission on Saturday, April 23, 2011!). To reduce your carbon footprint, ride DART to Pearl Station and walk to the Arts District.

Happy EARTH Day!

Mandy Engleman is the Director of Creative Services at the Dallas Museum of Art

Designing Stickley

Hello, everyone! DMA resident exhibition designer Jessica Harden here to give you a short and sweet behind-the-scenes snapshot of where some of our inspiration for exhibition design comes from. The Gustav Stickley exhibition was fun to work on because I had lots of great resources, including original photographs and The Craftsman catalogues, which Stickley published with drawings of many of his architectural and interior designs and finishes . . .

as well as records of popular colors of the time. We chose paint colors for the exhibition based on the Sherwin-Williams Arts & Crafts palette. BTW, drawing up plans for the exhibition is also part of my job . . .

as is producing construction drawings.

But back to inspiration and resources—this is a photograph of a model dining room created to show Stickley’s furniture in 1903.

. . . and this is our gallery at the DMA that we designed and built to replicate the original.

In fact, if you look around the Gustav Stickley exhibition galleries, you might notice a number of details that were inspired by Stickley’s original designs. Here, we were inspired by how Stickley used interior cut-outs to define spaces and create interesting thresholds to transition from one room to the next.

We also took inspiration from Stickley’s use of simple trim work on walls to help us define spaces and create a more residential environment for the exhibition. This included using a cap rail to imply a lower ceiling height in our 14-foot-high exhibition galleries.

And just to have a little fun, we took a few chances to let visitors discover glimpses of upcoming galleries and objects along the way.

Even some of the smallest details of the exhibition were inspired by Stickley. Here you can see that the mount for this lamp was modeled after drawings from Stickley interiors and was fabricated by our extremely talented preparators and carpentry staff. They even made new heads for the screws to match the originals!

Gustav Stickley and the American Arts & Crafts Movement is on view at the Dallas Museum of Art until May 8, when it will travel to San Diego to open on June 18.

Jessica Harden is Exhibition Design Coordinator at the Dallas Museum of Art.

20/20 at the DMA

We have reached 20,000 fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter! To thank every one of you we are offering 20% off adult general admission and 20% off new memberships*  from 11:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 21, 2011. Just tell the Visitor Services Desk, or visit the Membership desk on Level 1, that you follow the DMA on Facebook or Twitter to get your 20% discount.

* not available with any other offer

Seldom Scene: Readying the Show

Uncrated went behind the scenes in our Chilton Galleries last week to capture the installation of our newest exhibition, Art of the American Indians: The Thaw Collection, which opens this weekend.

Photography by Adam Gingrich, Marketing Assistant, Dallas Museum of Art


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