Posts Tagged 'Dallas Museum of Art'

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: The Overseas Adventures of an Artwork Courier

In the art museum world, couriers are often sent to accompany artwork in transit for loans. At the DMA, we elect to send an escort if the artwork is of high value, particularly fragile, and/or difficult to install. Couriers oversee the artwork every step of the way, ensuring its safe packing, transit, and installation. Oftentimes, these trips are not as glamorous as they initially appear, as they mean many long hours of waiting, uncomfortable travel conditions, and little sleep (but, sadly, no being handcuffed to a briefcase like in the movies). Nevertheless, they can sometimes be quite the adventure. Here is a timeline of a trip I recently took as a courier with our Matisse collage, Ivy in Flower, to the Tate Modern in London:

April 1, 2014
10:12 a.m. – Unified Fine Arts delivers the crate to the DMA. Due to the large size of the artwork, it was necessary to build an A-frame crate with a steel support structure. The artwork travels at an angle; otherwise it would be too tall to fit inside a truck or airplane cargo hold.

Art handlers strap the crate to the forklift so it can be upright for packing. Thankfully, it clears the ceiling with just an inch or two to spare.


Brackets on the artwork’s frame are used to attach it to the interior travel frame, which then fits snugly into the foam-lined crate.


12:17 p.m. – Although there is no room inside for the custom-built cradle used to maneuver the heavy artwork, the preparators screw it to the outside of the crate to be kind to the backs of their counterparts on the other end.

April 3, 2014
1:45 p.m. – The loans registrar and I learn that the cargo flight is delayed and will depart early the next morning rather than that evening as scheduled. After quickly consulting with our conservator about the climate conditions in the airport warehouse and confirming that there will be on-site security, we decide to proceed with loading the truck as planned.
3 p.m. – Lots of manpower, strategically placed dollies, and careful angling are used to load the crate onto the high-cube tractor trailer truck via the narrow dock plate.


3:42 p.m. – I climb into the backseat of a follow car that tails the truck carrying the artwork to the airport.


5:07 p.m. – The wider dock at the airport cargo area makes it much easier to offload the crate. A few more gray hairs appear on my head as I watch three forklifts, operating in tandem, raise the crate so a pallet can be slid underneath.


8:53 p.m. – Artwork couriers are very well acquainted with the “hurry up and wait” concept, as it is several hours later that additional cargo arrives to be loaded onto the same pallet. The entire structure is then wrapped in plastic (to protect from the elements) and secured via netting. It is a courier’s responsibility to make sure that cargo added to the artwork’s pallet does not contain live animals, anything perishable, or hazardous materials.


9:56 p.m. – After verifying the pallet was properly packed, security surveillance is in place, and paperwork is in order, I crash at a nearby hotel.

April 4, 2014
6:56 a.m. – My chariot awaits (bright and early!)—the customs agent from Masterpiece International drives me from the hotel to the DFW cargo hanger.
8:27 a.m. – The pallet is loaded and I board the cargo plane. Rather than the usual flight attendant spiel on how the seat cushion can be used as a flotation device, the pilots point out three possible escape hatches. As the only passenger, I settle into a row of business-class seats.


9:15 a.m. – Flight departs Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.


11:02 a.m. – Flight arrives in Chicago to take on additional cargo. I experience a minor moment of panic when I overhear the load supervisor say, “The animal’s not breathing and you have to sign all these papers and a waiver for them to do CPR.” I breathe a sigh of relief when I realize he is on the phone talking about his girlfriend’s cat (having ridden on planes with horses, chickens, and monkeys, you just never know).
1:01 p.m. – I inspect the pallet to make sure it is still secure after the extra cargo was loaded (thankfully no monkeys in sight).
2:15 p.m. – The pilots invite me into the cockpit for takeoff from Chicago.


9:46 p.m. Dallas time/5:46 a.m. local time – The plane touches down in Luxembourg (while London is my final destination, its airports don’t accept large cargo planes).


The airport is deserted at this early hour, and the pilots have to call for customs clearance. A bleary-eyed agent comes out of a nearby office, unceremoniously takes a stamp out of his pocket, marks our passports, and we are on our way. I manage to find a much-needed caffeine fix.


6:20 a.m. – Representatives from the art-freight forwarders Hasenkamp drive me to the cargo area and help secure my clearance (an ID badge affixed to a sexy green vest). Two drivers from the British fine art company MOMART meet us to help with the depalletizing and loading the crate onto their truck.


8:03 a.m. – The paperwork is finalized, the truck is locked and sealed, and we set out on the road to Calais, France.


8:40 a.m. – I pass into my third country of the day as we cross the border into Belgium.


12:53 p.m. – We drive into France and I jam with the drivers to Pharell Williams’ “Happy” and Elton John songs on the French radio.
1:39 p.m. – The customs agents in Calais ask for copies of all my documentation, including my e-ticket for the return trip to Dallas.
2:07 p.m. – MOMART drives the truck onto the Eurostar train flatbed, the wheels are locked, and the drivers and I board a bus for the passenger car. The drivers warn me of the potential stench of the train car and its scary bathrooms. I’m not sure what the warning instructions are about on the seat back—possibly what to do in the event of a nuclear holocaust or alien invasion.


2:54 p.m. French time/1:54 p.m. local time – The train arrives in England via the tunnel under the English Channel.
2 p.m. – While we are waiting to clear customs at the truck stop, we are engulfed by a tidal wave of drunk college students in body paint and various states of dress (or lack thereof), apparently en route to a big sporting expo. I am grateful for “Horatio Hornblower” on the lounge television . . .


4:30 p.m. – Customs are finally cleared and we depart for London.


6:15 p.m. – The Tate Modern loading dock is a most welcome sight. The crate is taken up in a massive elevator to be stored in the exhibition gallery because it is too large for their storage facilities.


7:10 p.m. – A taxi spirits me away to my hotel for a much needed shower and night’s sleep.

April 6, 2014
Acclimatization day (24 hours’ acclimatization is the museum standard to allow artworks to adjust to their new surroundings before they are unpacked. We couriers are grateful for these days so our bodies can also “acclimatize” and recover from jetlag.)

April 7, 2014
8:30 a.m. – I report to the museum for my unpacking appointment. The technicians clamp the crate to the forklift for extra stability and security. The cradle is used to slide the collage through the galleries, since (naturally) it is to be installed in the last one.Preview


9:50 a.m. – Sir Nicholas Serota (Tate Modern’s director) and Nicholas Cullinan (exhibition curator) work with the art handlers to place the artwork.


10:03 a.m. – I thoroughly examine the collage with the Tate’s conservator for the condition report and to verify it traveled safely overseas. The artwork is compared to the outgoing report and the photos taken before it was packed at the DMA.


11:28 a.m. – The frame is lifted into place and hardware is attached to secure it onto the wall.


11:52 a.m. – I request that a reading be taken with a light meter since there are skylights in the galleries. Works on paper are very susceptible to light damage, but thankfully the levels were low enough to meet our standards.
12:09 p.m. – I can now breathe a sigh of relief that everything is as it should be and set out to explore London.
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Reagan Duplisea is the Associate Registrar, Exhibitions, at the DMA.

The Outsiders

The DMA will host acclaimed author S. E. Hinton as part of its Arts & Letters Live series this Thursday, April 24. Hinton gave a fresh and multifaceted voice to the renegade, rebel, and rogue characters in her popular young-adult novels such as The Outsiders and Tex. Generations of readers have embraced her books for their themes of loyalty and perseverance in the face of classist and social injustice, and have projected them into Americana icon status.

Hinton’s best-selling and most well known novel is The Outsiders, about two rival gangs of upper-class and “greaser” teens in the 1960s, inspired by her own experiences growing up in Tulsa. The book was published when she was just 18 years old. Twenty-thousand copies of the book will be distributed throughout Dallas this month as part of “Big D Reads,” a community reading project. Michael Kostiuk’s Untitled from 1973 in the DMA’s collection reminded us of the backdrop for The Outsiders.

Michael Kostiuk, Untitled, 1973, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Polaroid Foundation grant

Michael Kostiuk, Untitled, 1973, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Polaroid Foundation grant

 

Reagan Duplisea is the associate registrar, exhibitions, at the DMA.

 

In the Stacks

This week is National Library Week, which makes it the perfect time to meet the Mayer Library’s new librarians, Jenny Stone and Kellye Hallmark.

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Jenny Stone, Librarian

Describe your job in fifty words or less. 
I’m the Librarian in the DMA’s art research library, a.k.a. The Mayer Library. I manage the day-to-day activities of the library, handle our interlibrary loan service, and help answer questions from staff and the public.

What might an average day entail?
On any given day, I might have reference e-mails to answer,  hunt down materials for research projects, purchase books, give a library orientation to a new staff member, or problem solve with Cathy Zisk, our cataloger, on how to handle an odd-shaped book.

How would you describe the best part of your job and its biggest challenges? 
The best parts of the job are the books!—and the cool things I learn about the collection and the Museum from various projects and questions we get. The biggest challenge: describing to visitors how to get from the Library to the European galleries.

Growing up, what type of career did you envision yourself in? Did you think you’d work in an art museum? 
I come from a family of librarians, so it was pretty much inevitable. And I can’t think of a better place to come to work every day than an art museum.

What is your favorite work in the DMA’s collection?
If I could stare at anything in the collection all day, it would either be Tatsuo Miyajima’s Counter Ground or Edouard Manet’s Vase of White Lilacs and Roses. Ask me tomorrow and I’ll have a different answer!

Is there a past exhibition that stands out in your mind as a favorite, or is there a particular upcoming show you’re looking forward to seeing?
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier was probably the most exciting and fun exhibition. The Mourners really opened my eyes to something new and unusual and beautiful, and Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World is very similar in that way.

Kellye Hallmark, Assistant Librarian

Describe your job in fifty words or less.
You can generally find me at the reference desk, where I assist both staff and visitors with locating materials, research, and a variety of questions associated with the Museum and our collection. Recently a PhD student from the University of Montana wanted to know what ancient sculptures we have that are made of serpentine or greenstone, and an ancestor of John Pratt had just discovered her lineage and called the library to see if his portrait by Ralph Earl was on view and to learn more about the work. I also manage our serial collection, as well as maintain and create artist files.

What might an average day entail?
Each day holds a new project or a new reference question, so it varies, but it is always something fun and interesting. Generally I am checking in new serials, scanning the papers for museum- or art-related news, and working on a special project, like researching Islamic art books for purchase.

How would you describe the best part of your job and its biggest challenges?
The best part of my job is being able to look at all of the new books and serials that arrive almost daily. I’m constantly learning about new artists, new shows, etc., and that is really fun. The biggest challenge is making myself put down all of those new books and serials—there just isn’t enough time to read it all!

Growing up, what type of career did you envision yourself in? Did you think you’d work in an art museum?
I always knew I would work in an art museum. I got my BA in Art History fully expecting to pursue a career as a curator, but my focus and passions changed and they led me to art librarianship, and I couldn’t be happier.

What is your favorite work in the DMA’s collection?
I’ve always loved San Cristoforo, San Michele, and Murano from the Fondamenta Nuove, Venice by Canaletto. I love his perspective and how so much of the painting is the sky. I love the Sculpture Garden as well; it’s such a great place to spend your lunch break and to see little kids play.

Is there a past exhibition that stands out in your mind as a favorite, or is there a particular upcoming show you’re looking forward to seeing?
Being fairly new, I have to say that the Edward Hopper exhibition that just closed was definitely a stand out—it was fantastic. I was also blown away by the Nur exhibition, and I can’t wait to see the Michael Borremans exhibition next year.

The Mayer Library is located on Level M2, and is open to the public Tuesday through Friday 11:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Saturday noon-4:30 p.m.

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

America the Beautiful

Yesterday, the DMA had the honor of hosting 49 individuals from 18 countries during the second annual naturalization ceremony in the Museum’s Horchow Auditorium, where they took their oath of allegiance and became the newest citizens of the United States. Akron Watson, a member of the Fortress of Solitude cast from the show’s recent debut and run at the Dallas Theater Center, capped off the event with an inspiring rendition of America the Beautiful. Following the ceremonies, candidates and their families enjoyed refreshments in the Atrium, posed for photos, had a chance to become our newest DMA Friends, and toured the Museum’s American art collection.

Icebergs Right Ahead!

Tomorrow is Titanic Remembrance Day, an annual observance of the lives lost when the unsinkable ship sank on April 15, 1912. Frederic Edwin Church’s The Icebergs, in the DMA’s collection and on view on Level 4, provided an opportunity for Museum staff to reenact a film still that captured the ship’s story.
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Kimberly Daniell is the manager of communications and public affairs, Madeleine Fitzgerald is the audience relations coordinator for programming, and Adam Gingrich is the digital media specialist at the DMA.

Art + Science = Whole Brain Fun

Remember when it was all the rage to call each other left- or right-brain dominant? While these references are still popularly used today, skepticism is growing among scientists as they learn more about the brain.

Strengths in logical, analytical, and verbal thinking have been associated with the left side of the brain, and creative and intuitive thinking have been associated with the right side. Scientific and mathematical types may be labeled “left-brainers,” while artists are considered “right-brainers.”

The reality is that there’s a bit more crisscross throughout the cranial wires. Both sides of our brains may actually tackle the same problem or idea, but each may approach a solution differently. Bottom line: Te brain aims to work efficiently and this means that most of the time the whole brain is working together. How is the health of your whole brain?

Join us for a day that engages and challenges the whole brain! On Saturday, April 12, the worlds of art and science deliberately cross over and mash up at the DMA’s first Art + Science Festival, held in partnership with the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Here are a few highlights to stimulate your neurons:

  • Stretch your mind during various 20-minute gallery talks with experts. Why might a curator use a CAT scan to learn more about an African sculpture? What can a facial recognition scientist reveal about a portrait?

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  • Inspect art materials and the natural world up-close using DIY digital microscopes with the DMA/Perot Teen Advisory Council.
  • Sit in the Perot’s Portable Universe (only the coolest movable planetarium in town) for one of two featured presentations, The Sky at Night and The Search for Water. After the Portable Universe, marvel at the connections your brain makes as you gaze upon masterworks in two DMA exhibitions. Encounter the realm of the stars in Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World, which includes a collection of astrolabes (early astronomical computers), a celestial globe, and an astrological album. Alexandre Hogue: The Erosion Series takes an in-depth look at Hogue’s powerful images confronting the tragedies and environmental issues of the Dust Bowl era.

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  • Practice your mind-hand-eye coordination by making some art. Explore lines, shapes, and patterns through the creation of a string art installation with artist Amy Adelman.

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All of these experiences and more await you for FREE at the DMA’s Art + Science Festival on Saturday, April 12. Come for a visit and challenge your whole brain! All ages are invited.

Nicole Stutzman Forbes is Chair of Learning Initiatives and Dallas Museum of Art League Director of Education at the DMA.

Images:
George W. Bellows, Emma in a Purple Dress, 1920-1923, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase; Standing power figure (nkisi nkondi), late 19th-early 20th century, wood, iron, raffia, ceramic, pigment, kaolin, red camwood, resin, dirt, leaves, animal skin, and cowrie shell, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the McDermott Foundation; Alexandre Hogue, Drouth-Stricken Area, 1934, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, (c) Olivia Hogue Marino & Amalia Hogue

Art Everywhere US: A Very, Very Big Art Show

Be a guest curator for the largest art exhibition in America! Beginning today, you can vote for your favorite American artworks from art museums across the country, including the DMA. Art Everywhere US is a public celebration of great American art.

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The process to create this celebration began this past New Year’s Eve, when I e-mailed the directors of four leading U.S. museums—the Art Institute of Chicago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art—asking if they would jump in feet first with the DMA and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America to create a 100-work synopsis of American art history. I was thrilled when everyone agreed right away, and by January 2014 we were off to the races.

I asked each museum to submit 30 works, yielding 150, and I had the unenviable task of winnowing the list down to 20 each to reach 100. We were seeking a balanced result, representing every period of American art from across the nation, with attention to ethnic and gender diversity, and the inclusion of iconic works alongside whimsical ones. We stuck to two-dimensional works given their planned reproduction on out-of-home media.

It is now up to you to help decide which of these 100 works will be part of the first Art Everywhere US project.

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From now through May 7, you can vote for your favorite 10 works daily to help inform the final 50 works. The final works will be reproduced this August on as many as 50,000 outdoor displays from coast to coast. Make sure you get to see your favorite work of art on a billboard during your commute this summer, whether it’s the DMA’s The Icebergs, the Art Institute of Chicago’s American Gothic, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Campbell’s Soup Can, the Whitney’s Little Big Painting, or the National Gallery’s George Washington. We aren’t trying to stack the deck in the DMA’s favor, but instead are enjoying the playful spirit of this massive endeavor. Vote early and vote often! And please share your votes with #ArtEverywhereUS and connect online.

(Images in slide show: Jasper Johns, Three Flags, 1958. Encaustic on canvas. 30 5/8 x 45 1/2 x 4 5/8 in. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Art © Jasper Johns, Licensed by VAGA, New York, N.Y.; Gilbert Stuart, George Washington, c. 1821. Oil on wood. 26 3/8 x 21 5/8 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of ThomasJefferson Coolidge IV in memory of his great-grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, his grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Coolidge II,and his father, Thomas Jefferson Coolidge III.; Frederic Edwin Church, The Icebergs, 1861. Oil on canvas. 64 1/2 x 112 1/2 in. (1 m 63.83 cm x 2 m 85.751 cm). Dallas Museum ofArt, gift of Norma and Lamar Hunt.; Roy Lichtenstein, Cold Shoulder, 1963. Oil and magna on canvas. 68 1/2 x 48 in. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of RobertH. Halff through the Modern and Contemporary Art Council (M.2005.38.5). Photo courtesy of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, by Kevin Ryan.; Grant Wood, American Gothic, 1930. Oil on Beaver Board. 30 3/4 x 25 3/4 in. (78 x 65.3 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago, Friends of American Art Collection.)

Maxwell L. Anderson is the Eugene McDermott Director of the DMA.

The Nur Dialogue Experience

As the senior advisor for Islamic art at the DMA, my responsibilities include engaging with institutions worldwide to create dialogue on behalf of the Museum. The most recent project involved curating the exhibition Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World, which itself required many complex negotiations! The project started in Spain four years ago, when I was asked by the Fundación Focus-Abengoa in Seville to develop their first Islamic art exhibition. Seville is no stranger to Islamic history. Almost 800 years of Islamic rule in Spain resulted in a strong presence of Islamic culture, which survived beyond 1492, when Muslims lost Spain to Christian forces. As an Islamic art exhibition in Seville, Nur was particularly significant, being paradoxically a first of its kind, yet, naturally at home. In Dallas, the Nur exhibition holds another great significance, as it is the first major exhibition of Islamic art in the 111-year history of the DMA. So, there is a great deal to learn about Islamic culture. But first of all, there is a great deal to “unlearn.” For this reason, the exhibition journey starts with a white entrance space, which aims to give the visitor a sensation of light, and is also a white slate, which prepares us to see for the first time. White light holds the full spectrum of colors.
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The Nur exhibition is at the heart of the cultural exchange venture at the DMA. With Nur, the dialogue starts with the silence of a white space, suggesting that listening is key in any dialogue. There is dialogue between the objects themselves as they link different cultures living within one culture. An example of this is a Torah case from 16th-century Syria, which is made of copper and decorated in the typical Islamic style of silver inlaid arabesques.

There is a strong connection between these objects that come from places as far apart as Spain and Asia, brought together in a configuration that creates a dialogue with the visitor. Islamic art objects are often small and they require us to humbly come close and look. They are filled with details. In the exhibition space, these details are brought to the fore by virtual screens (I prefer to call them virtual screens rather than videos!), which create other planes. They are positioned in such a way in the exhibition space so as not to interfere with the objects, but they complement the display, attract attention to some of the key aspects within the objects, and invite us to look at the objects again and again. They reveal the immense world within, sometimes, the tiniest of objects. And sight becomes insight.

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The exhibition journey reflects content and container being one; without props, the exhibition provides an experience of a different way of seeing the world. Through aspects such as reflection and attention to minute detail, a harmonious musicality is created. The exhibition concepts and design were shaped closely together to create an experience of a multilayered reality. For example, this is suggested by the openings in the walls between sections that allow us a glimpse into the next space as we make an enjoyable journey of discovery through the exhibition. Passing one of these openings, we sense the presence of another world, suggesting that what see is only part of the whole.
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Sabiha Al Khemir is the senior advisor for Islamic art at the DMA.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

We’re cheering on our Texas Rangers during Opening Day!

Nic Nicosia, Bobby Dixon & the Texas Stars, 1986, screenprint, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Group, Dallas, Texas

Nic Nicosia, Bobby Dixon & the Texas Stars, 1986, screenprint, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Group, Dallas, Texas

Installing Light

Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World is opening this weekend and the DMA is the only venue outside of Europe to host this exhibition featuring rarely seen objects from around the world. We’ve been preparing for weeks for Sunday’s opening, as you can see in the photos below,

Learn more about the exhibition and the artistic techniques used to enhance the effect of light found in the objects on display in Nur from the DMA’s senior advisor for Islamic art, Dr. Sabiha Al Khemir. And on Thursday, April 3, your lecture ticket will also include admission to Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World!

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Kimberly Daniell is the manager of communications and public affairs at the DMA


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