Posts Tagged 'Dallas Museum of Art'



Conservation Timeline

Silver Vitrine (for the 1908 Kunstschau), 1908, Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops), Vienna, Austria, 1903-1932, maker; Carl Otto Czeschka, Austrian, 1878-1960, designer; Josef Berger, Austrian, 1874/75-?, goldsmith; Josef Hoszfeld, Austrian, 1869-1918, Adolf Erbrich, Austrian, 1874-?, Alfred Mayer, Austrian, 1873-?, silversmiths; Josef Weber, dates unknown, cabinetmaker; Wabak, Albrech, Plasinsky, Cerhan (unidentified craftsmen), silver, moonstone, opal, lapis, lazuli, mother-of-pearl, baroque pearls, onyx, marble, ivory, enamel, glass, and Macassar ebony veneers (replaced), image courtesy of Richard Nagy Ltd, London, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.

The Wittgenstein Vitrine (from the 1908 Vienna Kunstschau), 1908, Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops), Vienna, Austria, 1903-1932, maker; Carl Otto Czeschka, Austrian, 1878-1960, designer; Josef Berger, Austrian, 1874/75-?, goldsmith; Josef Hoszfeld, Austrian, 1869-1918, Adolf Erbrich, Austrian, 1874-?, Alfred Mayer, Austrian, 1873-?, silversmiths; Josef Weber, dates unknown, cabinetmaker; Wabak, Albrech, Plasinsky, Cerhan (unidentified craftsmen), silver, moonstone, opal, lapis lazuli, mother-of-pearl, baroque pearls, onyx, ivory, enamel, glass, and Macassar ebony veneers (replaced), Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.

With fall just around the corner, here’s a brief sneak peek into the conservation treatment, made possible through the Art Conservation Project grant from Bank of America, of the DMA’s recent acquisition, a masterpiece of Viennese design known as the Wittgenstein Vitrine.

An exhibition dedicated to this spectacular addition to the DMA’s collection, Modern Opulence in Vienna: The Wittgenstein Vitrine, opens November 15 in the Conservation Gallery. The display will examine the historical significance of the Wiener Werkstätte vitrine and include other examples of Viennese art and design from the period. It will also highlight the conservation treatment and technical analyses carried out during the past year.

Collaboration between curator and conservators – a discussion on original wooden base height, veneer, and finish

Collaboration between curator and conservators – a discussion on original wooden base height, veneer, and finish

Fitting the new curved glass side panel – the replacement of a missing element

Fitting the new curved glass side panel, replacing a missing element

The elaborate silver vitrine (or display case) stands roughly five feet tall and is encrusted with pearls, lapis lazuli, opals, onyx, and other gemstones. Each of these materials requires different conservation approaches and solutions. The overarching goal of the treatment has been to bring the piece closer to its original 1908 appearance, as well as to stabilize a number of fragile elements. The most stunning transformation has resulted from the reduction of blackened tarnish and the removal of layers of old silver polish residue trapped within the intricate metalwork.

Detail of old polish residue trapped between glass and metalwork

Detail of old polish residue trapped between glass and metalwork

Detail of old polish residue caught between the glass panes and silver decorative elements

Detail of old polish residue caught between the glass panes and silver decorative elements

Many painstaking hours of old polish removal and reduction of silver tarnish.

Engaging in many painstaking hours of old polish removal and reduction of silver tarnish

Conservation treatments do not take place within a vacuum, and an exciting part of the project has been the interdepartmental collaboration between the curatorial, conservation (including myself), and collections staff at the DMA. Kevin W. Tucker, The Margot B. Perot Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the Dallas Museum of Art, and I have also been working with outside consultative experts, including silversmiths, specialty glassmakers, gemologists, research scientists, and even an ornithologist (to help identify the various birds depicted on the vitrine).

Detail of a pearl cluster with two birds.  Notice the old polish residue in the interstices surrounding the cluster.

Detail of a pearl cluster with two birds. Notice the old polish residue in the interstices surrounding the cluster.

During removal of silver tarnish, as seen in this image from left to right.

During removal of silver tarnish, as seen in this image from left to right.

Working almost daily on an intimate and intense level with an object has resulted in many discoveries, which we look forward to sharing with the public in both the exhibition and the opening symposium on November 15, 2014.

Fran Baas is the Associate Conservator of Objects at the DMA.

My Meaningful Moments at the DMA

Amanda Blake, Head of Family, Access, and Scholl Experiences at the DMA, during a Meaningful Moments program.

Amanda Blake, Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences at the DMA, during a Meaningful Moments program

There are many reasons I enjoy working with our Access Programs here at the DMA, but one of the big ones is the chance to form relationships—relationships with participants and, in turn, their relationship with works of art in our galleries. The Meaningful Moments program for visitors with Alzheimer’s disease and their care partner (usually a spouse or family member) creates opportunities for people to have transformative experiences with works of art and with one another. I feel lucky to be a part of this each month. As I have gotten to know the participants over the years and spent time with them each month, I am reminded of the importance to live in the moment and to cherish each day that we get to spend with our loved ones. The Meaningful Moments program reinforces my belief in love and in the kindness of humanity.

If someone were to pass by our group in the galleries, it would appear as if longtime friends were chatting and reminiscing. In the studio, there is often laughter and joking as participants create and share their artwork. Many of the participants get together outside of the program, for lunches or support groups. I have received gardening tips and holiday cards from individuals in the program, and I have even visited the woodworking shop of a participant to learn how to use a lathe. The group is social and very welcoming to newcomers, but is also a supportive bunch of familiar faces.

Viewing and talking about works of art can unearth past memories, especially those still accessible to a person with Alzheimer’s disease. I have witnessed this many times during Meaningful Moments. From a Native American cradle sparking recollections about vacationing with young children, an exhibition with a beautiful wedding gown triggering detailed stories about participants’ wedding days, impressionist works reminding attendees of a favorite nature spot from their youth, or a print by Andy Warhol generating a lively discussion of life in the 1960s, artwork often serves as a catalyst to connect with the stories from the past and with loved ones in the present. During our gallery conversations, spouses (even those married more than fifty years) occasionally learn new things about their loved one’s past.

Crucial to the Meaningful Moments program, socialization and simulation play a key role and have been proven to help improve mood and behavior, as well as dramatically enhance quality of life. The social interaction and exploration of works in the collection are as gratifying to the spouse or family member as it is to the attendees with Alzheimer’s disease. I have seen care partners lean on one another for support and bond over shared experiences. One woman who used to bring her husband to the program still occasionally attends, even though her husband passed away two years ago. A couple who has attended the program since the beginning even schedules their doctor’s appointments and vacations around the program dates. A wife who brings her husband has told me that she needs the program, as it is a time when she can connect emotionally with him and not think about the disease for the two hours that they are in the Museum.

Since the program began four years ago, two of my favorite people in my life have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I know how heartbreaking it can feel for this disease to affect someone you love, let alone how scary it must feel for the person diagnosed. The Meaningful Moments program is one of the best parts of my job and means so much to me as an educator—it is an honor to be welcomed into the circle of this small group of people and to become part of their experience as they journey through life navigating such a devastating disease.

Getting to know program attendees and seeing how much the couples genuinely and patiently care for one another, I have witnessed true love in action. To watch a husband gingerly fit a headpiece he designed around his wife’s head, to catch couples married fifty years holding hands in front of a Jackson Pollock, to be in the studio immersed in jewelry-making with attendees while listening to Duke Ellington and suddenly looking up to see an impromptu slow dance take place by one of the couples in the program are just a few of the many truly memorable experiences for me, and ones that I will always cherish.

To learn more about the DMA’s Meaningful Moments program, or for information on how to schedule a group from assisted-living facilities specializing in memory care, visit the Museum’s website or e-mail access@DMA.org.

Amanda Blake is the Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences at the DMA.

DMA Works at Work

We hope you have a relaxing break this Labor Day and aren’t hard at work like these pieces in the DMA’S collection.

Hot Dogs at the DMA

Hot dog – tomorrow is National Dog Day! What better way to celebrate man’s best friend than to have an entire day devoted to our canine companions? We love dogs here at the DMA and have a paws-itively delightful variety of works of art depicting them. Grab your furry friend and have a tail-waggin’ good time as you celebrate National Dog Day with the top dogs of our collection.

Nicolas Mignard, The Shepherd Faustulus Bringing Romulus and Remus to His Wife, 1654, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated

Nicolas Mignard, The Shepherd Faustulus Bringing Romulus and Remus to His Wife, 1654, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated

Home is where your dog is, and this home is about to welcome two new babies to the family. This painting tells the story of a shepherd who found two babies—Romulus and Remus—in the woods. They were abandoned by their family and had been living with a she-wolf who took care of them. Luckily the babies have a four-legged family member to help watch over them!

Mythical aso (one of a pair), Borneo, Greater Sunda Islands, Kayan people, 19th century, wood (kayu tapang or Koompassia: Excelsa), Dallas Museum of Art, The Roberta Coke Camp Fund and the Museum League Purchase Fund

Pair of Mythical aso, Borneo, Greater Sunda Islands, Kayan people, 19th century, wood (kayu tapang or Koompassia: Excelsa), Dallas Museum of Art, The Roberta Coke Camp Fund and the Museum League Purchase Fund

Beware of dog! Their bark may be louder than their bite, but these two creatures certainly look strong and fierce. This is a pair of asos, a mythical animal that is a mix of a dog and a dragon. Dogs and dragons both guard and protect and for the Kayan people of Borneo, asos protected the most important people in their society.

Jean-Baptiste Oudry, Water Spaniel Confronting a Heron, 1722, oil on canvas, Lent by the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation

Jean-Baptiste Oudry, Water Spaniel Confronting a Heron, 1722, oil on canvas, Lent by the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation

Friend or fowl? Jean-Baptiste Oudry was known for painting hunting scenes, but there is a question about who is hunting whom in this picture. It looks like this bird is barking up the wrong tree. My money is on the mutt!

Nicolas de Largillière, Portrait of the Comtesse de Montsoreau and Sister as Diana and an Attendant, 1714, oil on canvas, Lent by the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation

Nicolas de Largillière, Portrait of the Comtesse de Montsoreau and Sister as Diana and an Attendant, 1714, oil on canvas, Lent by the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation

These girls are dressed up to have their portrait painted with their two pampered pooches – who wouldn’t want a painted portrait with their dog? The girls are dressed as the Goddess Diana and an attendant; Diana is the Goddess of the Hunt and her symbol is a crescent moon.

John White Alexander, Miss Dorothy Quincy Roosevelt (later Mrs. Langdon Geer), 1901-1902, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Pauline Allen Gill Foundation in memory of Pauline Gill Sullivan

John White Alexander, Miss Dorothy Quincy Roosevelt (later Mrs. Langdon Geer), 1901-1902, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Pauline Allen Gill Foundation in memory of Pauline Gill Sullivan

This pup looks dog-tired! Dogs can say a lot without ever barking—just look at their ears and tail! This dog, Shamrock, may be taking a cue from his owner as they sit and stay to have their portrait painted. The woman in this portrait is Miss Dorothy Quincy Roosevelt, cousin to President Theodore Roosevelt. As a teenager, Dorothy visited the White House often for parties and events. One might say that Shamrock is one fashionable dog, check out his elegant gold collar!

The next time you feel like drooling over paintings depicting pups, take a two-legged visit to the DMA to search out the hounds.

Amanda Blake is the Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences at the DMA

Of Jewelry and Jazz

On Friday night we celebrated the exhibition From the Village to Vogue: The Modernist Jewelry of Art Smith with a night of performances, talks, art making, and more inspired by Art Smith during the busiest August Late Night we’ve ever had, with more than 5,500 visitors! The Dallas Black Dance Theatre, along with the Stockton Helbing Trio, performed a premiere of a new work to a full house in a piece inspired by the jewelry of Art Smith. Visitors lined up throughout the evening to create their own jewelry in the Center for Creative Connections, there were plenty of human pretzels in Yoga for Kids, and the Atrium was alive all night with music from Mahogany the Artist, Rebel Alliance Jazz Ensemble, and The Funky Knuckles.

If you missed Friday night’s fun, you can still celebrate Art Smith throughout August (all for free!); check out the events online, including Thursday’s Jazz in the Atrium with Mahogany the Artist.

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.

 

A Very Big Outdoor Art Show

This week Art Everywhere US launched onto billboards, bus stops, digital screens, and more across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Keep your eyes peeled while road tripping and commuting for some of your DMA favorites, including The Icebergs and The Peaceable Kingdom, when you are out on the town. Check out some photos from across the country below and share your finds on Instagram with #ArtEverywhereUS. If you are ready for an art hunt, discover the locations on the Art Everywhere US interactive map.


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