Archive for the 'Behind-the-Scenes' Category

Moore on the Move

Photos showing the North Entrance of the museum prior to the start of renovation efforts.

The North Entrance of the Museum prior to the start of renovation efforts.

Henry Moore’s Two Piece Reclining Figure, No. 3 has greeted visitors at the Museum’s North Entrance for many years. Last week, Moore’s sculpture moved to a new home on the south side of the building, where it will welcome visitors into the Sculpture Garden. The move involved a lot of planning, and many precautions were in place to move the 2,200-pound bronze sculpture. Follow the sculpture’s journey below:

Museum Murder Solved!

Tonight we completed our fourth annual Museum Murder Mystery Game. This year, Victory was found dead just before Late Night began. Visitors searched the galleries for the body and integrated the suspects to determine who did it, with what object, and in which gallery. Below is the news report from their findings.

Museum Murder Solved!
Isabelle Lemonnier Confesses

Edouard Manet, Portrait of Isabelle Lemonnier with a Muff, c. 1879, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated, 1978.1

Edouard Manet, Portrait of Isabelle Lemonnier with a Muff, c. 1879, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated, 1978.1

 17 JULY – Chaos has reigned for the past few hours here at the Dallas Museum of Art. Following the violent death of Victory, a prominent (and notoriously annoying) member of the collection, staff and visitors conducted an intensive inquiry. Lily Davenport, summer intern and chief investigator, explained that “we interviewed every artwork under suspicion for Victory’s murder, and checked on almost all of the potential weapons on display in the Museum.” In the end, one of those suspects broke down and confessed, under close questioning regarding the timing of her walk home.

Isabelle Lemonnier admitted to strangling Victory with an Etruscan composite necklace in the Indonesian Art Gallery. An unrepentant Isabelle reportedly remarked during her interrogation, “It was easy. I let everyone think I had taken Lady in a Red Hat up to her portrait, when really I just circled around to the third floor, by way of the Barrel Vault. The necklace looked as though it would fit in my muff, so I took it out of its case in the Ancient Mediterranean Gallery and went up to the Indonesian section to wait for Victory. I got her from behind as she came through the door—I doubt she ever even saw me.”

When this reporter asked about her motive, Isabelle cited Victory’s “disruptive and obnoxious” behavior and her own longstanding envy of the other artwork’s vocal self-confidence. Said the killer, “She always acted like she was so much better than me, than all of us. And the self-promotion never really let up. So it was just the icing on the cake when she interrupted Buddha’s meditation session to ask about dealing with envious friends. I knew she was talking about me, and it made me so angry!”

Museum staff did not comment on Isabelle’s eventual fate, as artwork-on-artwork violence is comparatively rare, and little judicial precedent exists. “It’s much more common for human visitors to pose a threat to the art,” said an investigator from the curatorial department who wishes to remain nameless. “I don’t even know where to begin writing this incident report.”


Lily Davenport is the Summer Intern for Adult Programming at the DMA

CosPlaying at the DMA


This week, teens have been experimenting and creating through group and solo challenges during our Urban Armor: Cosplay Challenge Camp. Each challenge allows this group to learn new concepts and construction techniques to use in their final costume design which they showcased this afternoon in the Museum galleries. Inspired by last year’s Zombie Camp, this year’s group was visited daily by experts from various professions that they may want to pursue like film and fashion. One of the returning campers from last year, a student at Booker T. Washington, said “this (the Urban Armor camp) is the only camp that I sign up for every year because it’s so awesome. I love it.”

So if you’re in the DMA galleries this afternoon, don’t be surprised if you run into a superhero or two.


After Hours

Have you ever wondered what museum curators do to relax and unwind at the end of their day? For Olivier Meslay, the DMA’s Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs, one of his favorite things is to look through online versions of auction house and gallery catalogs. What seems like a bit of a “busman’s holiday” worked to our advantage a few months ago.

Cover to Audap & Mirabaud’s catalog for 21 November 2014 auction

Cover of Audap & Mirabaud’s catalog for November 21, 2014, auction

It all started on a stormy night early last November when he clicked on the website for the Parisian auction house Audap & Mirabaud. On their homepage was the lovely self-portrait by Paul Claude-Michel Carpentier (1787-1877), a lesser-known French painter, sculptor, and engraver who had exhibited at the Salon between 1817 and 1838.

The painting that caught Olivier’s attention is signed and dated 1833, and Carpentier exhibited it at the Salon the following year. For some time, the DMA had been seeking to purchase a large-scale 19th-century Salon portrait, and this one fit the bill. It was to be auctioned in Paris on November 21, and, as it happened, Olivier would be in France on the day of the sale, but not in Paris. Luckily, he had plans to be in the glorious city a few days beforehand and found an occasion to examine the painting.

Paul Claude-Michel Carpentier, Self-portrait of the artist and his family in his studio, 1833, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O'Hara Fund, 2014.38.FA

Paul Claude-Michel Carpentier, Self-portrait of the artist and his family in his studio, 1833, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund, 2014.38.FA

It was as impressive as he had hoped, and so he registered to bid. The only remaining problem was that at the precise time of the sale he was to be at a conference in a city four hours away. About mid-morning on November 21, he discreetly slipped out of his meeting for a few minutes to bid by telephone on the artwork. To our great fortune, he was the high bidder. All of his maneuverings were worthwhile.

When he returned to Paris a few days later, to his great surprise, he learned from an agent with Audap & Mirabaud that a small, fully realized preliminary drawing of the portrait had become available. He bought it on the spot.

(left) Study for “Self-Portrait of the Artist and his Family in his Studio,” c. 1833, pencil on paper, private collection (right) Paul Claude-Michel Carpentier, Self-portrait of the artist and his family in his studio, 1833, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O'Hara Fund, 2014.38.FA

(left) Study for Self-portrait of the artist and his family in his studio, c. 1833, pencil on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Olivier Meslay, 2015.20.FA; (right) Paul Claude-Michel Carpentier, Self-portrait of the artist and his family in his studio, 1833, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund, 2014.38.FA

Having the opportunity to place a highly detailed drawing next to the executed painting is quite rare. It provides us with the chance to delve into the artist’s creative process and study any last-minute compositional changes made between the two works. In this case, we learn that in the completed painting, Carpentier rearranged the sculptures in the background, while in the foreground he added the yellow and red paisley shawl draped over the back of the chair on which his daughter,r wearing a blue dress, rests her arm.

Another exciting aspect of these purchases is that it presented us with an opportunity to learn about Carpentier’s life. One of the most immediate revelations happened shortly after the painting arrived at the DMA. Much to our surprise, we discovered a small slip of paper affixed to the back of the frame. On the very old sheet were handwritten details (in French, of course) about Carpentier; his wife, Adèle; and daughter Clémence.


Slip of paper affixed to upper rail of the back of the frame with details of the artist’s immediate family and descendants.

As our research about Carpentier progressed, we unearthed some very intriguing discoveries. While he was quite active in the Society des Beaux-Arts, advocating for various artistic mutual aid societies, he was also an accomplished theoretician and technician of encaustic painting. The ancient process of adding pigment to melted beeswax, which dates back to antiquity, fascinated Carpentier throughout his lifetime and culminated in his authoring a detailed treatise about the technique that artists still consult today.

Notes en cire

Cover of Notes sur la peinture: a la cire cautérisée procédé encaustique by Paul Carpentier

Most interestingly, we discovered that one of his closest friends was Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (1787-1851), the French artist and photographer recognized for inventing the eponymous process of photography. As a testament to their mutual admiration, Carpentier made a painting and bust of his good friend, but more importantly, in 1855 he wrote a monograph about Daguerre that to this day remains the single greatest firsthand contemporary account on the birth of photography.

Knowing more about Carpentier, and turning back to his self-portrait, we see that in it he brought together people and things that held an important place in his life. While we discovered valuable information about the painting and artist, we also learned that we all gain when our Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs relaxes at the end of a busy day by surfing the Web. Visit the newly conserved painting in the DMA’s Level 2 European Art Galleries, included in free general admission, today!

Martha MacLeod is the Assistant to the Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs and Curatorial Administrative Assistant for the European and American Art Department at the DMA.

Weaving in the Andes

For thousands of years, artists in the Andean region of South America have been weaving beautiful and complex textiles—an extremely labor intensive process as well as an important form of artistic expression. Beyond serving as protection from the arduous cold of the highlands and the intense sun of the Andean coast, textiles played important roles in ritual, political, and social life and functioned as a marker of social identity for both the living and the dead. Because it took so much time and effort to produce a textile, wearing a highly decorative tunic, for example, conveyed the wearer’s social prestige. Today, we are surrounded by textiles—from the upholstery of our living room sofas to our clothes and bed sheets. But most of today’s textiles were created in mass and for the masses.


One of the goals of Inca: Conquests of the Andes—on view until November 15, 2015—is to emphasize that each of the textiles in the exhibition was laboriously and thoughtfully created by hand. So, we designed a space within its galleries to illustrate the step-by-step process of making a textile, from the shearing of a camelid for natural hair or the picking of raw cotton, to the many specific ways that fibers can be woven together to produce a textile.

We were thrilled to collaborate on this project with University of North Texas professor Lesli Robertson and the awesome students in her class Topics in Fiber: Community, Culture, and Art. To kick it off, the class visited the DMA’s textile storage and examined fragments representing a variety of weaving techniques for inspiration. Then, they returned to campus and got busy creating enlarged samples of the weaving techniques, using extra strong and thick cording and string so that visitors can touch and feel the nuanced differences between the various techniques. The students experimented with natural dyes like indigo and cochineal (a parasitic insect) to produce bright colors, mirroring the Andean artists in the exhibition. They also produced a backstrap loom—a small, portable loom popular in the Andes that is attached around the weaver’s back and anchored to a tree or other high post. Be sure to check out the students’ photodocumentation of their project on Instagram. They tagged all of their photos and video with #IncaConquestUNT.



Better yet, visit the Inca exhibition and explore the sample wall to learn about the intricate weaving processes used by the artists represented in the exhibition. When you enter, grab a Weaving Techniques guide from the holder. The colorful round icons on labels indicate the predominant weaving technique used for that artwork. Look for differences in the techniques in the artwork galleries, but try to feel the difference in the Weaving in the Andes space.



Andrea Severin Goins is the Interpretation Manager at the DMA.





A Soft Touch


This evening, in advance of our special DMA Arts & Letters Live event with Rebecca Alexander, who will discuss her memoir about losing her vision and hearing due to a rare genetic disease, we will host our first Touch Tour for adults in the Museum’s Sculpture Garden. Last summer, the DMA hosted a similar tour for a group of children with visual impairment; you can explore photos from the event below and learn more about the history here.

Tonight, artist John Bramblitt will lead participants to three works of art and then discuss his process as an artist who happens to be blind. The all-inclusive tour for those attending the Arts & Letters Live event (those with full vision will be given blindfolds for the tour) begins at 6:15 p.m. Visit for additional information about tonight’s program and to purchase tickets.

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

Off to Art Camp

The end of the school year marks the beginning of the DMA’s summer camp program, where each week campers make friends while exploring works of art in the collection and making their own art in the C3 studios. Yesterday we welcomed a fun and energetic group for our first two Summer Art Camps of 2015: New World Kids and Paint, Print, and Pattern.


On the first day of New World Kids, campers got to work with plants . . . and get their hands dirty while doing so!

It was a fun day, and the campers were excited to show their families the plants and other activities they had worked on.

Some of the campers were, admittedly, a little excited to see their families at pick-up…
Although all our camps are fully booked, if you would like to see a list of the types of summer camps we offer, for ages ranging from 4 to 19, visit our website,

Josh Rose is the Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs at the DMA.

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

Join 1,164 other followers

Twitter Updates

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Flickr Photo Stream

More Photos

Join Us on Facebook


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,164 other followers