Sensory Sensation

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At the DMA, you can currently visit Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt, featuring works from the extensive holdings of the Brooklyn Museum. The appeal of an exhibition about both cats and ancient Egypt seemed like the perfect opportunity for the DMA to experiment with a multisensory interpretive space within an exhibition setting, essentially creating a satellite, smaller-scale Center for Creative Connections (C3). While C3 is an experimental space focused on innovative and diverse ways of interpreting a selection of DMA artworks, the Divine Felines Creative Connections Gallery is intended to contextualize the exhibition through a variety of interpretive interactives. In this space, visitors can step up to a listening station and hear tales of the Egyptian deities, sniff incenses that would have filled ancient temples, or see a real mummy and watch a film about mummification.

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This diagram shows the layout of the 1,600 square feet of gallery space at the back of the Divine Felines exhibition.

This educational gallery also provides DMA staff with insight into our visitors’ interests and preferences. The more we know about our visitors’ expectations and interests, the more equipped we are to provide them with meaningful gallery interactives. First, we keep track of the number of visitors who enter the Divine Felines Creative Connections Gallery and compare it to the total number of visitors to the exhibition. In October, nearly 70% of visitors to the exhibition entered the Creative Connections Gallery. And, interestingly, Thursdays saw the highest percentage of visitors entering the space.

Additionally, three days a week for two hours at a time, we observe visitors in the gallery to determine which activities they interact with and how long they engage within the space. To structure our observations, we created a tracking sheet (see image above) where we note participation in specific activities and the total duration of their visit to the space. Our system of tracking notes depth of engagement within an activity. For example, in relation to the short film about mummification we are curious to know if the visitor:

  • Reads the label outside of the film room.
  • Enters the film room.
  • Sits down on the bench.
  • Watches the whole film.

Finally, we ask half of the visitors we observe if they are willing to take a quick survey on an iPad. The questions we ask relate to visitors’ motivations for entering the educational space and what components visitors would like to see in future educational spaces.

So far, we’ve noticed a few interesting trends. In October, for example, the majority of observed visitors spent time looking at the mummy or Thoth sculpture and visited the scent bar. Here is the breakdown of how many visitors participated in each activity in October.
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Other data points to date:

  • Visitors spent an average of 10 minutes in the space.
  • Over 70% of visitors entered the gallery with a group; 30% were alone.
  • On average, visitors smelled 8 out of the 10 fragrances at the scent bar.
  • On average, visitors listened to 2 out of the 5 stories at the listening station.
  • Slightly more visitors picked up the all-ages self-guide than the family guide.
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*Note: Visitors were able to choose more than one response.

We would love your feedback, too. What educational tools would you like to see at the DMA?

Jessica Fuentes is the Manager of Gallery Interpretation and the Center for Creative Connections at the DMA. Andrea Severin Goins is the Head of Interpretation at the DMA.

Prohibition Ends at Last! Bottoms Up!

“What America Needs Now is a Drink” – Franklin D. Roosevelt (supposedly)

It only took 13 years for the 18th Amendment to be repealed. What was meant to halt drunken disorder, cure mental illness, and simultaneously put an end to crime in America only increased such debauchery. Speakeasies popped up at an unprecedented rate, and corruption ran rampant. It was a dark time for the United States, but there was light at the end of the tunnel. On December 5, 1933, Prohibition was overturned, and still stands as the only constitutional amendment to ever be revoked.

Sloppy Joe's Bar

Sloppy Joe’s in Chicago when the 18th Amendment had been repealed. [American Stock Archive/Getty Images]


Celebrate repeal day by sharing a drink with a loved one, friend, or stranger, and cheers to our constitutional right to enjoy alcohol responsibly. Then stop by the Museum for a special look at cocktail culture in Shaken, Stirred, Styled: The Art of the Cocktail.

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[Image: Bottoms Up cocktail tumbler, 1928, attributed to McKee Glass Company, pressed glass, Dallas Museum of Art, the Patsy Lacy Griffith Collection, bequest of Patsy Lacy Griffith, 2001.163.1–2]


In true rambunctious and Roaring Twenties fashion, the festivities don’t end there. Join us on February 4 when the Museum will turn into a Speakeasy that will rival the Cotton Club itself!

Julie Henley is the Communications and Marketing Coordinator at the DMA. 

A Wondrous Woven Magic

Earlier this week, the DMA exhibitions team wrapped up the installation for Art and Nature in the Middle Ages, which opens Sunday, December 4. Here, our team of skilled preparators carefully unfurl a tapestry from the Middle Ages, overseen by conservators and couriers who traveled with the art from the Musée de Cluny in Paris, France. This exhibition contains a variety of different types of objects: liturgical objects in precious metals, capitals and keystones from building structures, large woven tapestries, unbelievably detailed manuscripts including Books of Hours, and fifteen illuminated stained glass windows. It’s only on view in the US here at the DMA. We hope you’ll come see it, and us, soon.

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Skye Malish-Olson is the Exhibition Designer at the DMA. 

Cyber Monday

Congratulations! You survived Black Friday 2016! But if you are like us, you might be spending this evening searching Cyber Monday deals to finish off your list.

Black Friday is the ultimate day to go shopping for all of the best deals, steals, and doorbusters, but it’s not for the faint-hearted. If you busted down the doors of all your favorite stores (or even if you didn’t), we would like you to enjoy 10% off a one-year DMA membership. This incredible Cyber Monday deal is only good until MIDNIGHT TONIGHT.

Experience 12 full months of exclusive DMA Member benefits, including:
Free parking in the Museum’s garage
Free admission to all special exhibitions
EXCLUSIVE exhibition Member Preview Days
And so much more!

Most importantly, no doors to bust down.
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Gobble This Up!

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Ceramic bowl, Mogollon-Mimbres, c. 1000–1150 C.E., ceramic and slip paints, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, anonymous gift 1988.99.FA

Did you know that there’s a lot more to turkeys than just a delicious Thanksgiving meal? Archaeologically speaking, we know that populations in the US Southwest have domesticated turkeys since around 600 C.E. That’s a long time before the early American settlers sat down to dine with the Wampanoag Indians! Turkeys were common animals around the household (move over Fido) and would feed on centipedes and millipedes like you see in the scene on the bowl above . . . yum. Turkeys appear to have been primarily kept for their feathers (not to hold stuffing), which were used to make feather blankets and may occasionally have been consumed.

Come to the DMA this Thanksgiving weekend to view this bowl and to go on a “hunt” for even more works that remind you of the holiday! We will be closed on Thursday, but stop by for a relaxing Black Friday. Gobble, gobble!

Julie Henley is the Communications and Marketing Coordinator at the DMA. 

 

 

Shaken AND Stirred

Whether you like your adult beverage shaken or stirred, we think you’ll enjoy this. A celebration of over 100 years of cocktail ware design, Shaken, Stirred, Styled: The Art of the Cocktail opens at the Dallas Museum of Art this Friday, November 18, during the DMA’s Late Night event. Organized chronologically and divided into sections that correspond to major shifts in the consumption of cocktails, the exhibition features nearly 60 works drawn primarily from the Museum’s collection. It explores the relationships between political, social, and economic currents, developments in technology, quotidian practices of consumption, and design styles. An interactive display prompts visitors to explore the history of spirits and cocktails alongside that of the vessels in which they were prepared and served. Below are a few highlights paired with historically accurate cocktails included in the exhibition’s interactive display. Cheers!

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“Skyscraper” cocktail shaker, cups, and tray, William Waldo Dodge, designer, 1928–31, silver, Dallas Museum of Art, The Patsy Lacy Griffith Collection, gift of Patsy Lacy Griffith by exchange, 2008.48.1–12

It would not be surprising if this monumental skyscraper-inspired cocktail shaker once held the ingredients of the Sidecar, one of the most popular cocktails during Prohibition.

The origin of the Sidecar—a shaken mixture of cognac, orange liqueur, and lemon juice, served in a sugar-rimmed cocktail glass—is debated, but commonly believed to be Paris or London at the conclusion of World War I (1914–18). Whatever its origin, the Sidecar quickly crossed the Atlantic and conquered the speakeasies in the newly “dry” United States.

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Penguin cocktail shaker, Emile A. Schuelke, designer, Napier Company, manufacturer, Meriden, Connecticut, 1936, gilded silverplate, Dallas Museum of Art, The Jewel Stern American Silver Collection, gift of Jewel Stern, 2002.29.8.a–b

The owner of this gold-accented, silver-plated Penguin cocktail shaker, touted by its manufacturer as the “master of ceremonies at successful parties,” may have utilized it to shake Daiquiris, which peaked in popularity in the 1930s.

Despite possible antecedents native to Cuba, the Daiquiri as it is known today—a shaken mixture of white rum, lime juice, and simple syrup—was first recorded by American mining engineer Jennings Cox in 1902. The Daiquiri shares its moniker with the Taíno (indigenous peoples of the Caribbean) name for a beach near Santiago de Cuba.

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Circa ’70 pitcher-mixer with mixer spoon, Gorham Manufacturing Company, Providence, Rhode Island, designed 1960, silver and ebony, Dallas Museum of Art, The Jewel Stern American Silver Collection, Decorative Arts Fund, 2002.29.68.a–b)

This futuristic Circa ’70 beverage mixer was likely used to stir dry gin Martinis in the 1960s.

Like the Manhattan, the Martini is a spirit-based and vermouth and bitters-laced cocktail that originated in the 19th century. It appeared in print in Jerry Thomas’s How to Mix Drinks, published in 1862. While 19th-century recipes recommend sweet vermouth, by the 1950s dry vermouth was mixed with dry gin and orange bitters and then poured into a classic cocktail glass.

Samantha Robinson is the Interim Assistant Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the DMA.

 

Building Blocks

The DMA’s M2 hallway is hosting work by the winners and finalists of the 2016 Ken Roberts Memorial Delineation Competition, which celebrates the best in architectural delineation by professionals and students throughout the world. Averaging more than 400 entries from 25 countries in recent years, KRob is currently the most senior architectural drawing competition anywhere in the world.

Julien Meyrat, a senior designer at Dallas-based architecture firm Gensler, shared some insight into the history of this four-decades-old competition. Be sure to visit the work, on view through December 5 and included in free general admission, on your next visit to the DMA.

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What is the Ken Roberts Delineation Competition?
The AIA Dallas Ken Roberts Memorial Delineation Competition (or “KRob” for short) is an annual event that recognizes excellence in how architecture is visualized through drawing. Organized by the Dallas chapter of the American Institute of Architects, students and professionals from around the world are invited to submit drawings and renderings done either by hand or by digital means. Most entries are received by the competition’s official website, but people are also encouraged to deliver their submission to the AIA Dallas office. A three-person jury selected by the committee evaluates the entries for technical and expressive qualities and not for the merit of the architectural designs they illustrate. Winners are chosen for various categories: Hand Drawing, Digital/Mixed Media, Travel Sketch, Physical Submissions, and 3D Printing.

How did it get started?
Dallas architect Jack Craycroft noticed an abundance of quality perspective drawings produced by young designers who worked alongside him in the early 1970s. When he was installed as president of AIA Dallas in 1974, he decided to create a competition for Dallas-area architects to showcase their delineations that would have otherwise been given to clients or hidden in flat-file storage cabinets. He enlisted his young up-and-coming colleague Ken Roberts to lead the new committee to organize the event. It was a major success, though Roberts tragically passed away several months later. AIA Dallas resolved to make the new delineation competition an annual event, and renamed it after its first committee chair.

What has changed about the competition over the years?
Going on its 42nd year, the Ken Roberts Memorial Delineation Competition is the longest-running architectural drawing competition anywhere. Thanks to Dallas’s supportive community of architects and faculty from the University of Texas at Arlington, the competition has served as a window into how we continue to find new ways of depicting buildings and environments. One can study how hand drawing was enhanced with a variety of physical media, how the computer enabled exponentially new avenues for visual communication, and how films and video games continue to influence the way individuals tell stories in their delineations. Eight years ago, KRob opened itself to the world, allowing individuals from over 25 countries to participate. Recently the competition added a new category for 3D-printed models, since this new media continues the critical tradition of using drawing as part of the dynamic design process. The annual exhibition that features the winning finalists is intended to convey the tremendous breadth in visual and graphic talent inherent in the art of architectural drawing.

Thomas Rusher, registered architect , Rusher Studio LLC, 3D Print, 2016

Thomas Rusher, registered architect, Rusher Studio LLC, 3D print, 2016.

Julien Meyrat, AIA, is a senior designer at Gensler. He is also a former chair of the AIA Dallas Ken Roberts Committee.


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