Archive for March, 2011

Growing Pains

Since our art storage area is not available to the general public, we thought we’d give you a behind-the-sceneslook at our new and improved space.

In 2008, the Museum was awarded an important grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Through the grant, the DMA has increased the square footage of several art storage spaces, expanded storage capacity, and modernized the spaces with new lighting, HVAC, and furniture fixtures. Each storage space was renovated to the highest preservation and green-building standards in coordination with the architecture firm Solomon & Bauer of Watertown, Ma., the City of Dallas, and contractors.

The building of the new Works on Paper (WOP) facilities was the final building stage of this multi-year project.  Three new rooms were constructed within the museum’s existing storage space to specifically hold the museum’s roughly 6,000 works. With the construction complete and the new cabinets installed, we have started the process of moving art from our old storage to the new.

Space was one of the biggest concerns in our previous WOP storage. This was especially true for our storage of framed works, where our cabinets were full the point of overflow. We often needed to remove five or six pieces in order to access the one object we needed. Since the goal is to move the work as little as possible, the “overflow” constituted a threat to the care of our objects.

Speaking in strictly numbers, we previously had 18 cabinets with a total of 126 bins, each bin being 10 inches wide and 42 inches deep. As you can see in the picture below, the height of each bin was set. While this created an aesthetically pleasing consistency, it left significant gaps and wasted precious space.

In our new space, conversely, we have 142 bins, each 11 inch wide by 42 inches deep. Not only do we have a greater number of overall bins, our new cabinets are completely modular.  Depending upon the need of the collection, we can add or subtract shelves.  The photo below shows the new cabinets in process of being loaded with objects.  Already you can see the increased functionality of this style unit.

The new framed work storage units are attached to rolling racks, which allows us to maximize our space by removing the need for aisles. While the use of rolling racks has been relatively common in library stacks for years, it is only now becoming the standard in collections care. With the addition of the rolling racks in the area, we have now updated all of our storage spaces to these compacting racks.  The photo below shows the new flat storage units on a rolling rack.

Always a problem in our old space, we specifically designed an area of the new storage space to view works on paper. Shelves built in to the slanted wooden backing fold out to support objects without having to bother with hanging.  The shelves are large enough to support almost any framed work in the collection, but are also designed in such a way where many smaller pieces could also be shown all at once.  The flexibility of the unit is vital to curators as they arrange and rearrange objects in preparation for gallery installations.  The overall size of the viewing space is an extra plus as we can now accommodate more students or scholars visiting on research trips.

The changes in how we store our works on paper will greatly improve the overall level of care we are able to maintain.  Thanks to the NEH and the Hoblitzelle Foundation, these improvements, along with the updates to our library and archives, the collections file storage space, and small objects—shown in last fall’s  Small Objects Collection is Movin’ on Up!—have made a profound impact on the way the collections staff cares for our museum’s collection.

Anne Lenhart is an Assistant Registrar at the Dallas Museum of Art

Two Debuts

Our exhibition, Concentrations 54: Matt Connors and Fergus Feehily, opens soon (Sunday, April 3 to be exact). I’ve been lucky enough to work on this show from start to finish with Jeffrey Grove, The Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art. Each artist has their own dedicated space in the Marguerite and Robert Hoffman Galleries. The first museum exhibition for both artists, we worked closely with them to decide the works presented as well as the logistics of each installation. Berlin-based Irish artist Fergus Feehily is integrating three objects from the DMA’s collection into his installation: a bead, a dressing cabinet, and an Indian miniature. New York artist Matt Connors, on the other hand, is installing 10 completely new paintings (finished very recently, as a matter of fact) and also a work of his that we acquired in last year Soul Error (Vertical), 2010.

We’re really excited to have both artists in town for the installation and opening events. See for yourself…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On March 31, 2011 at 7:30 pm, Jeffrey will join both artists for a discussion of their work. Hope to see you there!

Erin Murphy is the Curatorial Administrative Assistant for Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art

Seldom Scene: A Pocket Full of Posies

Even though our galleries had “the day off,” today the Museum hosted Art in Bloom, the Dallas Museum of Art League’s annual symposium and luncheon. The springtime event provides generous support for the League’s Floral Endowment and the Museum’s exhibitions and educational programs.

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

Lost in Space: Experience Art In a New Way

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What do you think is inside this 3-D work by Lee Bontecou? Feel inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s plywood side chair? At the Space Bar in the Center for Creative Connections, we challenge you to really experience art and take what you see in our exhibition to make your very own work.

As the Coordinator of C3, I continually save creations left by Museum visitors. So do my DMA colleagues. Some we hold onto because of their extraordinary use of materials and some we save simply because we like them. Many works end up on the desks of C3 staff and the walls of the Center’s Director. However, we mostly save them to document the every-day happenings in the Center. During the Center’s first exhibition, Materials & Meanings, we filled several file cabinet drawers full of works of art visitors left on the Materials Bar shelf. For our current exhibition, Encountering Space, the C3 staff worked closely with DMA designer Jessica Harden to allow more display room specifically for the Space Bar. Now the Bar has nine shelves that extend to the ceiling providing Museum visitors with plenty of room to leave their work and become part of the exhibition.

One of my all-time favorite creations was made by a visitor on a Late Night this past fall. She made a dragon out of a cardboard box, tape, and pipe cleaners. The cardboard box was completely transformed till it was unrecognizable.  “Visual conversation” is how another visitor described the ability to leave your work of art at the Bar.  From dragons to drum kits, houses to fully composed songs in visual form, art left at the Space Bar provides you an opportunity to get involved in your museum: create, respond, express, and say something.

You too can contribute to the Encountering Space exhibition by creating a response to a work of art or literally making up your own. Every other month the supplies and art-making materials change allowing the artist-in-you to surface each time you visit the Museum. We encourage you to unleash your creativity to transform and manipulate unexpected materials like color-coated wire, pipe cleaners, masking tape, cardboard boxes, and aluminum foil. The Space Bar is open during regular Museum hours and there is no need to reserve a spot. Your creations might just be featured on Facebook or a future blog post!

Hadly Clark is the C3 Specialist at the Dallas Museum of Art

Mastering the Competition

We were thrilled to celebrate with the O’Donnell Foundation the opening of the thirteenth annual Young Masters: Advanced Placement Student Art Competition exhibition in our Concourse Gallery. Recently, some of the artists discussed their works at our Family First Day with WFAA’s Shelly Slater. In this video, Kathy Tran of Richardson High School talks about her approach to a self-portrait for her digital photograph Getting Out of Bed Is a Choice:

Over 480 submissions were considered, including 366 works by Studio Art students, 100 essays by Art History students, and 15 compositions by Music Theory students. The “Final 48” represent 13 schools.

This year, you can also experience Young Masters in a whole new way at Use your own smartphone or borrow an iPod Touch from the Museum to hear music compositions and art history readings by students featured in Young Masters.

And last but not least, check the We Art Family blog after April 8 to see which work earned the “People’s Choice Award.”

Maria Teresa G. Pedroche is Head of Family Experiences & Community Engagement at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Longtime Curator “Travels” DMA’s Silk Road

Following her new installation in the third-floor galleries of objects that reflect transport along Eurasia’s  Silk Road, “seasoned” curator Dr. Anne Bromberg sat down with us to discuss her fascinating career. A lifelong Dallasite—except for her years at Harvard getting her B.A. in anthropology and M.A. and Ph.D. in classical art and archaeology—Dr. Bromberg has been on the staff of the Dallas Museum of Art for more than forty years, first as a lecturer and docent trainer beginning in 1962, then as head of the education department, and currently as The Cecil and Ida Green Curator of Ancient and Asian Art. What’s more, she has led an inspired life, traveling extensively to little-known locales, researching and experiencing the cultures within her discipline.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Q: How would you describe your job at the DMA?

AB: Most curatorial jobs involve trying to acquire art for the museum, organizing exhibitions and/or working on exhibitions that come to us from elsewhere, publishing, lecturing, working with volunteers, [and] cultivating donors. In terms of legwork, it’s going around and seeing dealers and other collections, visiting other museums, going to conferences, and giving lectures outside the museum.

Q: You are in charge of a very diverse area of the Museum’s collections. What is your particular area of expertise?

AB: Classical art, meaning the art of ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, and all Asian art, but I’m mainly working with South Asian art.

Q: How did you become interested in Asian art?

AB: One of the really outstanding teachers I had taught evolution in her biology courses, including historical geology, and I was really fascinated with historical geology and that got me into reading about archaeology. And I thought, this is what I want to do. A good teacher makes a difference. I’ve actually been interested in Asia for a long, long time. When I was an undergraduate, I was reading books on Zen Buddhism and haiku, the Ramayana, and things like that. Books stimulate your passion to go see these things in reality.

Q: What are some of your favorite places you’ve traveled to?

AB:  I think both my husband, Alan, and I would say the single favorite place we’ve been is Isfahan in Persia. Italy, of all the European countries, is easily the most seductive, and everybody I know who has been to India is dying to get back. We’ve been there so many times, and you feel like you’ve just scratched the surface.”

Q: What is your favorite object within the ancient and Asian collections at the DMA? Within another collection?

AB: The Shiva Nataraja, because that image is the single most important iconic image in Hinduism generally, and many Hindus would agree with that. It is exceptionally beautiful both aesthetically and because it represents the loving quality of the god Shiva. South Indian Hindu poems describe worship as falling in love with the god, and our Shiva Nataraja is the embodiment of that Chola period poetry.

Brancusi’s Beginning of the World. because of my background, I personally have a strong response to pure geometric forms and classical idealism, and I’m certainly not alone in believing that the ancient Greeks would appreciate that classical, pure, and geometric vision of the beginning of the world.

Q: Do you personally collect art? What types of objects are you most drawn to?

AB: Primarily we’ve collected what I would call third-world contemporary art—things that at the time were being made wherever—New Guinea, India, South America, Mexico, etc.

Q: Why do you think it is important for people to study non-Western art?

AB: If you study non-Western art, you’ll learn what human beings create and why. If you stick only to your own civilization, you are much less likely to think about why these things are being made . . . or about a much more serious question to me, why do we call it art?

Q: Describe your current project, an installation of objects from the DMA’s collections focusing on the Silk Road.

AB: The Silk Road installation is something that has interested me for a long time. We do have a lot of artwork that really displays the meaning of the Silk Road, which tied Eurasia together for millennia. So I was delighted when I got a space where I could show the ties between the Mediterranean world and Asia.

The Silk Road is an ancient transcontinental network of trade routes that spread across Eurasia from the Mediterranean to China and Japan. The phenomenon of the Silk Road is constantly studied and has recently been featured in museum exhibitions around the world. The new installation, organized by Dr. Bromberg, addresses six themes related to the Silk Road, including the development of cities and trade, the importance of animals to early societies, and the spread of religions. The installation presents well-known DMA favorites, such as the Javanese Ganesha and the bust of a man from Palmyra, and new works from several local private collections. Opening this weekend, come see the new installation on Level 3 the next time you visit the DMA.

Ashley Bruckbauer is the McDermott Intern for Programs and Resources for Teachers at the Dallas Museum of Art and Madelyn Strubelt is the McDermott Curatorial Intern of Ancient and Asian Art at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Ask @MoRocca

Last week we asked you to tweet us your questions for Mo Rocca. We picked three at random and below are his answers. Mo Rocca will appear at the Charles W. Eisemann Center tonight at 7:30 p.m. as part of Arts & Letters Live’s 20th season. Purchase Mo Rocca tickets from the Eisemann Center online or call 972-744-4650. Don’t forget that university students, faculty, and staff receive a 40% discount off any price level by entering the code “student” at checkout.


@llkays What is your dream meal where, with whom (from any time or place), and what would you eat?

I’d like to eat Chinese food with Barbra Streisand. She used to work at a Chinese restaurant. Plus she’s Jewish. She could explain to me why Jewish people love Chinese foodin song.

@smallcapsitalic You make me laugh, so what makes YOU crack up?

Gene Wilder and Madeline Kahn in Young Frankenstein. The Marx Brothers and Margaret Dumont. David Sedaris.

@kimbaway What is your favorite type of art?

Modigliani. I like long necks.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,462 other followers

Twitter Updates

Flickr Photo Stream