Archive for the 'Archive' Category

ARTifacts: A Trip to the Moon and Beyond

From 1953 to 1956, the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts had something few other art museums did . . . a planetarium.

Planetarium equipment, circa 1953 [The Jerry Bywaters Collection, Southern Methodist University]

Planetarium equipment, circa 1953 [The Jerry Bywaters Collection, Southern Methodist University]

The planetarium’s first show, “A Trip to the Moon,” was held during the 1953 State Fair. The Model A-1 Spitz planetarium, with 24-foot dome, would go on to enthrall thousands of visitors—over 10,000 in the first six months—with shows such as “Star of Bethlehem,” “Skies over Dallas,” “Reasons for the Seasons,” “The Sun and Its Family,” “Seven Wonders of the Universe,” and “The Greatest Show Off Earth.”

Shows were scheduled for the public on weekends and for groups during the week, for the low price of 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for children and students. The State Fair was the most popular time for the planetarium, entertaining 4,000 people over 69 shows in 1954 and 5,665 people over 80 shows in 1955.

In early 1956, the planetarium was transferred to the Health Museum, which was later called the Science Place and is now closed.

Hillary Bober is the Archivist at the Dallas Museum of Art.

 

ARTifacts: Textile and Fine Arts Building

One hundred and five years ago, in April 1909, the Dallas Art Association (the parent organization of what is now the DMA) presented the City of Dallas with their collection and opened in a new permanent gallery space in the Textile and Fine Arts Building in Fair Park as the Dallas Free Public Art Gallery.

 

Textile and Fine Arts Building, Fair Park, c. 1909

Textile and Fine Arts Building, Fair Park, c. 1909

The DAA collection had been shown in the Art Room at the Dallas Public Library from 1903 to 1909 but was in need of larger quarters. Beginning with the opening of the new gallery on April 17, 1909, the collection’s hours were Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., and entry was free.

Dallas Free Public Art Gallery in the Textile and Fine Arts Building, Fair Park, c. 1909-1929.

Dallas Free Public Art Gallery in the Textile and Fine Arts Building, Fair Park, c. 1909-1929

The collection remained on display in the Textile and Fine Arts Building for twenty years and was then relocated to the former Halaby Galleries space in the Majestic Theatre Building, opening April 30, 1929.

Hillary Bober is the digital archivist at the Dallas Museum of Art.

ARTifacts: Harwood Street Meets Sesame Street

Did you know—or remember—that a few special Sesame Street residents came to the DMA? Bert, Ernie and friends joined the celebration for the new downtown Museum by entertaining our youngest visitors on opening day, January 29, 1984.

Sesame Street characters at the DMA, 1984

Sesame Street characters at the DMA, 1984

Ernie at the DMA, 1984

Ernie at the DMA, 1984

Bert at the DMA, 1984

Bert at the DMA, 1984

Honkers at the DMA, 1984

Honker at the DMA, 1984

Hillary Bober is the digital archivist at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Choosing Favorites

Young men voting for their favorite work in the exhibition "Portrait of America," September 30-November 5, 1945 (Photograph from the Studio of Wm. Langley)

Young men voting for their favorite work in the exhibition Portrait of America, September 30-November 5, 1945 (Photograph from the Studio of Wm. Langley)

In 1945 the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts was the seventh venue for the 150-painting traveling exhibition Portrait of America, sponsored by “Artists for Victory” and the Pepsi-Cola Company. The museum invited Dallasites to vote for their favorite work in the exhibition. The winner of the vote was Gladys Rockmore Davis’s Noel with Violin; she was awarded $100 by the manager of the local Pepsi-Cola Company bottling plant.

The DMA is once again asking you to pick your favorite, this time in the Museum’s first Art Madness tournament, inspired by the NCAA Championship game, which will take place in North Texas this April. DMA Friends are currently determining the Sweet Sixteen by participating in the DMA Friends Love a Work of Art activity. Once we have the 16 works determined in late February, the public can vote for their favorites online. Stay tuned for more information on how you can help pick the first DMA Art Madness Champion!

Hillary Bober is the digital archivist at the DMA.

ARTifacts: Our Own Monuments Man

Did you know that a former DMA director was a Monuments Man?

DMFA Director Richard Foster Howard (1935-1942)

DMFA Director Richard Foster Howard (1935-42)

Richard Foster Howard was director of the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts from December 1935 to May 1942. Howard arrived in Dallas to oversee the completion of the new museum in Fair Park and the grand Texas Centennial exhibition in 1936. He would go on to assemble the exhibition for the Pan-American Exposition in 1937 and start the Texas General, an annual juried exhibition of Texas artists.

Richard Foster Howard (standing) with jurors Xavier Gonzales, Donald Bear, and Frederick Browne judging the Texas section of the "Greater Texas and Pan-American Exposition," 1937

Richard Foster Howard (standing) with jurors Xavier Gonzales, Donald Bear, and Frederick Browne judging the Texas section of the Greater Texas and Pan-American Exposition, 1937

Jurors for the 1941 Texas General exhibition: Richard Foster Howard, John McCrady, Boardman Robinson, and W. Whitzle (L to R)

Jurors for the 1941 Texas General exhibition: (L to R) Richard Foster Howard, John McCrady, Boardman Robinson, and W. Whitzle

Education was a major focus of his tenure as director. Howard started free Saturday classes for children in 1937, began the school tour program with the Dallas Independent School District in 1937-38, established the education department with the hiring of Mrs. Alexandre (Maggie Jo) Hogue as the first full-time supervisor of education in 1939, and founded the Museum’s library in 1940.

During World War II, Howard retired from the Museum to join the army and was made a captain in the Army Field Artillery. He served in the European theater with distinction and returned to Germany in July 1946 as deputy chief of monuments, fine arts, and archives for the Office of Military Government for Germany (U.S.) He served as a Monuments Man until December 1948. For his service in returning works of art removed by Germans during the war, he was awarded the Order of the White Lion of Bohemia by the Czechoslovakian government and the Star of Italian Solidarity by the Italian government.

When Howard returned from Germany, he resumed his museum career, retiring as director of the Birmingham Museum of Art in 1975.

This Friday, learn even more about this special group of men and women with the opening of The Monuments Men movie.

Hillary Bober is the digital archivist at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Happy 30th Anniversary 1717 N. Harwood

January 29, 1984, was a warm, clear day. At 12:15 p.m. a ribbon was cut . . .

Ribbon cutting ceremony on January 29, 1984 marking the grand public opening of the Dallas Museum of Art's new downtown location.

Ribbon cutting ceremony on January 29, 1984, marking the grand public opening of the Dallas Museum of Art’s new downtown location.

Visitors poured into the new galleries . . .

First visitors in the new museum, January 29, 1984

First visitors in the new Museum building, January 29, 1984

And the great city of Dallas finally got the great art museum it deserved.

Brochure with slogan "A great city deserves a great art museum" encouraging Dallas residents to vote "yes" in the 1979 bond election providing funds to build the new Dallas Museum of Art.

Brochure with the slogan “A great city deserves a great art museum,” encouraging Dallas residents to vote “yes” in the 1979 bond election to provide funds to build the new Dallas Museum of Art

Hillary Bober is the digital archivist at the Dallas Museum of Art.

ARTifacts: DMA Director’s Debut

Did you know that a former Museum director was also an amateur thespian?

Lloyd LaPage Rollins was the director of the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts from 1934 to 1935. During his brief tenure at the DMFA, he performed the role of Maxwell Davenport in The Late Christopher Bean at the Dallas Little Theater in February 1935.

Lloyd LaPage Rollins, ("Lloyd LePage Rollins, Californian, To Become Director of Dallas Museum," Dallas Morning News, October 13, 1934"

Lloyd LaPage Rollins, “Lloyd LaPage Rollins, Californian, To Become Director of Dallas Museum,” Dallas Morning News, October 13, 1934

The Late Christopher Bean, adapted by Sidney Howard, is a comedy about a family that inherits the paintings of neglected artist Christopher Bean, which are now well respected and valuable, and are visited by three art connoisseurs/dealers. Maxwell Davenport, played by Rollins, is the true art connoisseur, concerned that the works are preserved and given their proper place in art history, while the other two are interested only in their own profit.

It is a fitting role for a museum director. In fact, the play’s director, Charles Meredith, reportedly told Rollins that “he would only have to be himself” to get him to agree to the role. (“Notes on the Passing Show,” Dallas Morning News, January 22, 1935, p. 2)

Unfortunately, it seems he was likely a better art historian than actor. A review of the play by John Rosenfield Jr. gives Rollins’ performance a passable grade, stating, “Mr. Rollins read his lines sensitively and missed a few effects—he will miss fewer as nervousness wears off.” (“Sidney Howard’s Intelligent and Amusing Comedy is Given,” Dallas Morning News, February 12, 1935, p. 2)

Bonus Fact: Rollins thwarted his attempted holdup while walking to rehearsal. As Rollins passed the would-be robber, the robber suddenly produced a pistol and ordered “Stick ‘em up.” Rollins instead punched the robber with a right to the chin, and ran the rest of the way to the theater. (“Fine Arts Director Swings Hard, Saves Purse from Robber,” Dallas Morning News, January 29, 1935, p. 1)

Hillary Bober is the digital archivist at the Dallas Museum of Art.


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