Archive for the 'Exhibitions' 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.

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. 

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.

 

Headed to the Polls

Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost. —John Quincy Adams

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[Images: Lucie Stahl’s Mascot Face-Off (2016) and Defeat (2016) on view in Concentrations 60: Lucie Stahl. Both works © Lucie Stahl.]

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.

Whiskered Deities

Cats are invading the DMA beginning this Sunday, October 9, when the Museum opens the nationally touring exhibition Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt. The exhibition features 80 objects from the world-renowned Egyptian collection of the Brooklyn Museum depicting cats and lions in ancient Egyptian mythology, kingship, and everyday life (and a few dogs too).

Below is an interview with DMA curator and avid cat-lover Dr. Anne Bromberg that was first published in the DMA Member magazine Artifacts. Mark your calendars for a cat-tastic night on Friday, October 21, during a special Late Night celebrating all things cat and Egypt. Listen to the purrrfect soundtrack to understand why cats are the Furry Conquerors of Culture, and follow the DMA on Spotify.

What are you most excited to present in this exhibition?
The ancient Egyptians were superb artists. Or perhaps one should say they were wealthy enough that they could afford to pay artists generously. The other interesting aspect is that for the Egyptians, cats were very important as divinities, as well as fun and delightful in ordinary life. I’ve said this to practically everybody, but cats have the closest brains to primates, or us, monkeys!

Sphinx of King Sheshenq, c. 945–718 B.C.E., bronze, Brooklyn Museum. Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 33.586

Sphinx of King Sheshenq, Egypt, Third Intermediate Period, c. 945–718 B.C.E., bronze, Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 33.586

Many people associate the ancient Egyptians with death or funerary rituals.
That’s partly because tombs were substantially built, so they survived. It’s clear from tomb paintings that the homes of the ancient Egyptians were equally glamorous, but almost none of that has survived.

What did this glamorous life look like?
They had beautiful clothes and were well fed. Furnishings of the everyday, as well as ritual objects, were exquisitely made. I’m sure they had trashy junk (because everyone does) but the impression you have is that the objects people lived with were really beautiful. The Egyptians believed that after death you could live forever in the land of eternal life. Part of the appeal of all Egyptian art, and certainly of this show, is that you see art made by people who believed you could take it with you.

Cat's Head, 30 B.C.E. to 3rd century C.E., bronze, gold, Brooklyn Museum. Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 36.114

Cat’s Head, Egypt, Roman Period, 30 B.C.E.-3rd century C.E., bronze and gold, Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 36.114

It’s impressive that the ancient Egyptian civilization lasted so long.
They were isolated to some degree, and they had a foolproof source of food with the Nile River. They were also extremely literate. People who conquered Egypt knew they were taking over one of the most sophisticated cultures in their world, so they allowed that culture to continue. This many-thousand-year continuity of culture did not disappear until the coming of the Christians, who were opposed to traditional Egyptian religious ideas.

Does any part of that culture persist today?
Something that has continued unabated from prehistoric times and up until today is the passion for cats. It is still a very pro-cat civilization.

Figure of a Cat, 305 B.C.E.–1st century C.E., wood (sycamore fig), gilded gesso, bronze, copper, pigment, rock crystal, glass, Brooklyn Museum. Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund , 37.1945E

Figure of a Cat, Egypt, Ptolemaic Period-Roman Period, 305 B.C.E.–1st century C.E., wood (sycamore fig), gilded gesso, bronze,rock crystal, and glass, Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.1945E

Kimberly Daniell is the Senior Manager of Communications, Public Affairs, and Social Media Strategy at the DMA.


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