Archive for the 'African Art' Category



Seldom Scene: Installing a Souvenir Tusk

This past weekend, Souvenir: A 19th-Century Carved Tusk from the Loango Coast of Africa opened in the Museum’s Concourse. Below are a few shots of the installation process.

Photography by Adam Gingrich, DMA Marketing Assistant

Remaking the Arts of Africa Gallery

My name is Edleeca Thompson and I am the curatorial research assistant for the Arts of Africa Reinstallation Project, sponsored by the Texas Fund for Curatorial Research. The research for the reinstallation project involves photographing gallery spaces and observing the use of technology and interactive media, as well as visitor responses, in order to ascertain the “best practices” in exhibition design for African art. I am also collecting information on educational programs, activities, and events that support a more innovative approach to the representation and interpretation of African art. This information will be used for the upcoming reinstallation of the DMA’s Arts of Africa gallery in the fall of 2013.

Since June 2011, Roslyn Walker, Senior Curator and The Margaret McDermott Curator of African Art, and I have visited twenty museums (together or separately) in the United States and Europe for this project. For me, the most impressive displays are at the Louvre (Paris), the Musée Rietberg (Zürich), the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum (Cologne), and the Museum Aan de Stroom (Antwerp).

Musée du Louvre, Porte des Lions, Paris, France

In Paris we toured the Pavillon des Sessions, where African art has been presented at the Louvre since 2000. The first picture shows the cool and serenely elegant African gallery at the Louvre. Although the Louvre is most known for its vast collection of masterpieces of Western art, the arts of Africa and Oceania have become increasingly popular with the general public. In response to public demand for more information on the objects, the museum added more labels and portable laminated information cards that visitors can take with them as they tour the galleries.

Museum Rietberg, Zurich, Switzerland

The Rietberg Museum also follows the tendency toward cool elegance, but with more color contrast in their restrained, yet intimately formal, spaces.

Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum, Cologne, Germany

The Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum carries spatial intimacy even further in an exhibit that explores the theme of death and the afterlife. The serene, contemplative environment, with its white walls, cushy flooring, featherlike ceiling, and soft, ambient music, evokes otherworldly experiences of the afterlife. The visitor approaches the gallery in stages before entering a large, veiled space. In order to view some of the objects, it is necessary to part the veil in front of the display case.

Museum aan de Stroom, Antwerp, Belgium

The Museum Aan de Stroom, which houses the ethnographic, maritime, folklife, and Antwerp history collections, by far exceeded all expectations regarding the use of technology. Here, the visitor is surrounded by multimedia devices.

Chicago Art Institute, Chicago, Illinois

The Art Institute of Chicago’s newly reinstalled gallery features a number of sculptures displayed in the round. The gallery also incorporates videos of ritual performances and still photographs of artists at work, as well as a historical timeline that parallels the cultural developments of both Europe and Africa.

Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California

The African collection at the Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University, was reinstalled in 2012 and includes objects ranging from pre-dynastic Egypt to the mid-20th century. Themes of body adornment, economics, and the afterlife are addressed through time and space.

All in all, being given this opportunity to travel and work with Dr. Walker has been a total blast! I’m excited for the DMA in anticipation of making the Arts of Africa exhibit more appealing and engaging for visitors for years to come.

Edleeca Thompson is Curatorial Research Assistant at the DMA.

Seldom Scene: A Tip of the Hat

African Headwear: Beyond Fashion opened yesterday and will be on view through January 1, 2012. The exhibition celebrates the artistry of African decorative design and initiates us into the world of fashion a few months before we host Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk. Below are a few images showing the preparation that went into creating the African Headwear exhibition.

Dining Among Masterpieces

Art and good food? We have both at the Dallas Museum of Art. The Cafe at the DMA offers a simple, yet elegant menu with a unique setting.  We are sharing the secret with you about what makes the food and experience in the Cafe so special, and who better to tell us than the head chef himself?

Chef Brian has been our Executive Chef at the Cafe since late September.  He discovered his love for cooking at the age of 5, and since then has been working in great kitchens throughout North Texas.  Now, he creates food to complement the various exhibitions at the Museum.  Here’s our “behind-the-scenes” interview with him:

Uncrated: What are some of the dishes you’ve created inspired by art at the DMA?

Chef Brian: “This is one of my favorite parts of my job – when we have new exhibitions.  I not only get to learn about the works of art being featured in the exhibition, but I get to research the cuisine from the region that they come from.

The Mourners exhibition by far has been the most thrilling for me as a Chef.  We were charged with putting on a dinner inspired by Michelin-starred chefs from Dijon, France.  With the African Masks exhibition, I got to really dive into some South African, Gambian, and Northern African cuisine, to create some of my newest favorite things– – South African Honey Cake with Abuelita Pudding and White Chocolate Anglaise.  I make this treat at home for myself!”

Uncrated: What was your favorite exhibition?

Chef Brian:J.M.W. Turner .  The masterpieces that were shown brought such wonderment to my eyes.  That’s the one thing I love about art:  No matter how old or new the work may be, you never know how it can affect you in a positive way and lift your spirits when they need lifting.”

Uncrated: How does your team prepare for Late Nights at the DMA?

Chef Brian: “I think that Late Nights at the Museum is one of the best attractions in Dallas.  We take a look at what programs and activities are going to happen that night at the museum, and try to plan accordingly with the theme and feel that the DMA is going for.  We keep it simple, so that food can be enjoyed by everyone, from the little artist to the art lovers.”

Uncrated: What’s the best thing about having lunch at the Cafe at the DMA?

Chef Brian: “When I go to a restaurant, I’m looking for an experience.  Well, what better place to sit down and have a bite to eat than the DMA?  Besides being surrounded by priceless works of art, the menu is very bistro and friendly to almost every type of eater.  For me, to eat great classic food with fresh products surrounded by incredibleart is a win-win for all.”

Check out the Cafe menu online.

Members Celebrate African Masks

Last Friday we posted to our blog that it takes several weeks to install an exhibition, and they are planned many months (if not years) in advance. Once the Museum’s membership department knows when exhibitions will open, we start scheduling our preview events.

This past weekend was busy; we hosted three previews! Over 1,000 DMA members took the opportunity to tour African Masks: The Art of Disguise before opening day.

In addition to greeting members at the exhibition and assisting them with the new smARTphone tour, we hosted the first Members Lounge at Late Nights. Some of you may remember that when the we presented the King Tut exhibition, DMA members were able to take a break from the crowds in a separate lounge area. We decided to bring the concept back during Late Nights. If you are a member and plan to visit during the September Late Night, stop by the Members Lounge at Late Nights for a snack and some additional fun. And please be sure to say hello!

Installing African Masks: The Art of Disguise

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Welcome to the debut of “Uncrated,” the Dallas Museum of Art’s new blog!

With the August 22 opening of African Masks: The Art of Disguise fast approaching, installation began the first week of August. Typically the installation of an exhibition takes about two weeks, but with the complex mounts, costumes, graphics and AV needs, this show will take a full three weeks to pull together. The exhibition will be on view in the same gallery previously occupied by The Lens of Impressionism: Photography and Painting Along the Normandy Coast, 1850-1874.  However, visitors will notice a significant difference in the look and feel from the previous show. Demo and construction began in June, drastically transforming the space into a large open gallery enveloped in warm oranges and yellows.


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