Archive for the 'Behind-the-Scenes' Category

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.

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. 

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.

The Sum of All Parts

The DMA’s conservation team works on a variety of projects throughout the year. DMA Associate Conservator Laura Hartman shared insights on one fascinating project in the Fall issue of the DMA Member magazine, Artifacts.

Flowers in a Vase with Two Doves (detail), François Lepage, 1816–20, oli on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Munger Fund, 2016.23.M

François Lepage, Flowers in a Vase with Two Doves (detail), 1816–20, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Munger Fund, 2016.23.M

In 1925, Dallas philanthropist Gertrude (Trudie) Terrell Munger endowed a fund for acquisitions to the Museum’s permanent collection. For over ninety years, the Munger Fund has been instrumental in the purchase of some of the DMA’s greatest treasures across its encyclopedic collection. These include Claude Monet’s The Seine at Lavacourt, Camille Pissarro’s Apple Picking at Eragny-sure-Epte, and the important old-master painting Basket of Flowers by Osias Beert the Elder. This spring, the Munger Fund acquired another world-class work: Flowers in a Vase with Two Doves, a beautifully preserved 19th-century painting by the Lyonnais artist François Lepage. The DMA’s conservation team examined it under the microscope to study the artist’s technique a bit closer.

Exquisite in its highly polished finish and attention to detail, Flowers in a Vase with Two Doves is meticulously painted and beautifully preserved, making its examination both enjoyable and an important opportunity to see a work of art as intended by the artist. Lepage has been described as a methodical and slow painter, and it has been suggested that it took him four years to complete this work. At first glance, the surface appears smooth and highly refined, but when observed under magnification each meticulous brushstroke becomes evident, revealing a surprisingly free and painterly technique.

Droplets of water, for example, are expertly applied to petals and leaves to create a convincing optical effect. These droplets, when observed under magnification, reveal a somewhat abbreviated painting approach.

Lepage also used his brush to quite literally add texture, heightening the illusion of tactile effects. Tiny details reveal the use of linear and directive brushstrokes in dialogue with such small highlights as the textured dots found along the butterfly’s wing and at the center of the chamomile flowers.

Microscopic examination of works of art often reveals important and interesting perspectives not immediately visible to the naked eye. This type of study allows conservators to better care for each work of art, giving a fundamental look into an artist’s working techniques.

—Laura Hartman is the Associate Conservator at the DMA.

 

Pumpkin Perfect

Our Education Department is always up for a creative challenge, so we celebrated today’s holiday by dressing up our pumpkins in their DMA finest for our annual Great Pumpkin Contest. Competition was fierce, but the winning, Linus-approved trophy was awarded to Emily and Jennifer, for their take on everyone’s favorite, somewhat creepy, DMA toddler, Dorothy. Check out all the terrific submissions below. Happy Halloween!

Sarah Coffey is the Education Coordinator at the DMA.

That’s a Wrap!

For thousands of years, cultures all around the world have practiced mummification to preserve departed loved ones and revered leaders along with objects that celebrated their life and prepared them for the afterlife. Check out these spook-tacular objects from the DMA’s collection related to mummification and join us on Saturday, October 29, at 2:00 p.m. for Mummies Unwrapped with DMA curators Dr. Anne Bromberg and Dr. Kimberly Jones.

Coffin of Horankh, c. 700 B.C.E., wood, gesso, paint, obsidian, calicite, and bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, 1994.184

Coffin of Horankh, Egypt, Thebes, c. 700 B.C.E., wood, gesso, paint, obsidian, calicite, and bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, 1994.184

For the ancient Egyptians, it was necessary to preserve the body so that the spirit could live on in the afterlife. Cartonnages, or coffins, were often highly personalized with a likeness of the owner and his or her name. Some include stories about the gods or even protection spells for specific parts of the owner’s body.

Canopic jars each held one of the mummified organs of a deceased person—the heart, lungs, intestines, and stomach. The four figures carved into the lids of the jars served as protectors for the organs inside. Since the heart was believed to be integral to the final judgment of a person’s soul, it was one of the most important organs to preserve.

Mantle with Condors, 300–100 B.C.E., camelid fiber, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., in memory of John O’Boyle, 1972.4.McD

Mantle with condors, Peru, South Coast, 300–100 B.C.E., camelid fiber, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., in memory of John O’Boyle, 1972.4.McD

This mantle was part of a funerary bundle from a Paracas burial. The deceased person, posed in a fetal position, would be wrapped in up to dozens of layers of handwoven garments embroidered with intricate designs—in this case condors with outspread wings.

Standing Female Figure, 1400–1540, silver, Dallas Museum of Art, collection of Andrew D. Christensen, gift of J.D. Christensen, 1983.633

Standing female figure, Peru, Inka (Inca), 1400–1540, silver, Dallas Museum of Art, collection of Andrew D. Christensen, gift of J. D. Christensen, 1983.633

This small figurine is similar to those used in an Inca sacrificial ritual known as capacocha. The preserved remains of young men and women who participated in capacocha rituals have been found in the Andean peaks clothed in fine textiles and accompanied by both human and animal figurines.

Jessie Frazier is the Manager of Adult Programming at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Untitled, But Not Insignificant

On your most recent visit, you might have noticed a new work of art in the Museum’s Concourse. Laura Owens’ whimsical piece Untitled (2004) was installed last week in honor of the artist’s recognition by TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art 2016 for her generous support of amfAR’s programs. TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art is an annual contemporary art auction held in the Richard Meier-designed Rachofsky House in Dallas, benefiting two organizations—the Dallas Museum of Art and amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research. Laura Owens will receive the amfAR Award of Excellence for Artistic Contributions to the Fight Against AIDS this Sunday during a brunch hosted by Cindy and Howard Rachofsky.

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Best known for her large-scale paintings, Laura Owens came on the scene in the 1990s, creating engaging multifaceted compositions that are simultaneously fun and technique driven. Born in 1970, she received a B.F.A. in 1992 from the Rhode Island School of Design, and she graduated with an M.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts in 1994. For the past two decades, Laura’s work has inspired others to think outside the confines of modern painting. The artist now resides and works in Los Angeles.

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

 


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