Museums - Winter 2012

NEW YORK, NY.- Attendance at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s acclaimed New Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia topped the one-million mark on January 18, 2013.

Metropolitan Museum, New York: "In the 14 months since their grand reopening on November 1, 2011, the galleries have attracted an average of 2,550 people per day. This number represents approximately 14% of the total attendance in the Metropolitan’s main building during the same time period.

Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, commented: “In its role as a global museum, the Met strives to present the very best examples of art from all cultures and all periods of history. From May 2003, the Museum worked on the reinstallation of its galleries for the art of the Islamic world, aware of the meaning and power of these collections in our modern world. Since these galleries reopened in their new configuration just over a year ago, we have been truly gratified by the exceptional interest that our visitors—both local and international—have taken in this newly conceived presentation of Islamic art.”

More than 1,200 works from the renowned collection of the Museum’s Department of Islamic Art—one of the most comprehensive gatherings of this material in the world—are on view in the completely renovated, expanded, and reinstalled suite of 15 galleries, a project that took eight years to complete. The organization of the galleries by geographical area emphasizes the rich diversity of the Islamic world, over a span of 1,300 years, by underscoring the many distinct cultures within the fold.

The new galleries are featured on the Museum’s website.

To celebrate the milestone moment, a catalogue of the collections was presented to the one-millionth visitor in the galleries by Sheila Canby, the Patti Cadby Birch Curator in Charge of the Department of Islamic Art, and Navina Najat Haidar, Curator and Coordinator of the new galleries. The ceremony took place in the Patti Cadby Birch Court, a space that was inspired by Moroccan late medieval design and built by artisans from Fez. Flowers were scattered in a fountain in the Court, and musicians played Arabic music. " Metmuseum.org
 
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 Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio: "The Columbus Museum of Art presented conceptual plans for its new wing to the City of Columbus Downtown Commission this morning. The addition of the wing, the third phase of the Museum’s Art Matters renovation and expansion project, will begin in late Spring of this year. The $37.6 million project encompasses major renovations to the Ross Wing and lobby area the Museum added in 1974 and the construction of a new wing. These changes will result in a unique meeting and special event complex, as well as new Gallery spaces to showcase the Museum’s permanent collection and expanded space for high-profile traveling exhibitions.

“This is a defining moment for the Museum,” said Nannette V. Maciejunes, CMA’s Executive Director. “Moving forward with this project allows us to fulfill our promise to the community of continuing to create great art experiences for everyone. The Museum’s growth is a reflection of our community’s vision for the arts and culture in Columbus and the priority each of our donors places on supporting a thriving arts community.”

Columbus-based architecture firm DesignGroup, has refined and will implement the master plan designed by the New York City firm of Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects for its new wing. The design team members have been led by award-winning architect Michael Bongiorno, a graduate of the prestigious Pratt Institute School of Architecture. Recognized for the talent, experience, and innovation applied to successful local and regional urban projects, Bongiorno specializes in the design of civic facilities, cultural destinations, and residential mixed-use communities. His recent projects include the Grange Insurance Audubon Center, the Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center of Worthington, the Columbus West Family Health Center, and Goodwill Columbus’ Headquarters.

The first phase of the capital portion of CMA’s Art Matters endowment and capital campaign was the renovation and repurposing of Beaton Hall. The building now houses 85 percent of the Museum staff, thereby expanding public space in the Museum. The project was completed in September, 2009, on time and on budget.

The second phase was the renovation of the Museum’s historic Broad Street building, now named the Elizabeth M. and Richard M. Ross Building, which was unveiled to the public January 1, 2011. The project, which was also completed on time and on budget, included: the transformation Derby Court by raising the floor to improve accessibility, installing a luminous skylight, and improving acoustics; reimagining the entire first floor as a Center for Creativity; renovating, installing new seating, and improving acoustics in the auditorium; and performing upgrades to make the building more accessible for all visitors.

In June, 2012, the Columbus Museum of Art, in partnership with the City of Columbus and Columbus Recreation and Parks, opened its new West Garden. The garden, designed by MSI Design, an award-winning planning, urban design, landscape architecture and entertainment design firm with offices in Ohio, Florida and California, is a gateway entry experience to the Museum and includes an ADA accessible walkway from the street to the entrance. The garden will provide a safe drop-off point for school and group tours and will be the sole ADA accessible entrance to the Museum during the renovation of the Museum’s 1970s addition and construction of its new wing. The garden is free and accessible to the general public during regular Museum hours." Artdaily.org 
 
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Art museum purists often rebel when electronic equipment is installed in galleries or various other didactic materila covers the walls. But it is here and the Cleveland Museum with its new building installation is looking to the future. The art experience can be enhanced but museum leaders must have the sensitivity to find that balance where the toys don't obscure the art. Many institutions are failing and most patrons don't even know they are being short-changed.
 
CLEVELAND, OH.- On January 21, 2013, the Cleveland Museum of Art opens Gallery One, a unique, interactive gallery that blends art, technology and interpretation to inspire visitors to explore the museum’s renowned collections. This revolutionary space features the largest multi-touch screen in the United States, which displays images of over 3,500 objects from the museum’s world-renowned permanent collection. This 40-foot Collection Wall allows visitors to shape their own tours of the museum and to discover the full breadth of the collections on view throughout the museum’s galleries.

Throughout the space, original works of art and digital interactives engage visitors in new ways, putting curiosity, imagination and creativity at the heart of their museum experience. Innovative user-interface design and cutting-edge hardware developed exclusively for Gallery One break new ground in art museum interpretation, design and technology.

“Gallery One offers an unparalleled experience for visitors of all ages,” said David Franklin, Sarah S. and Alexander M. Cutler Director. “The space connects art and people, art and ideas, and people with people. We’re thrilled to share this new space with the Northeast Ohio community, for both first-time and repeat visitors, and we are especially proud to lead the way internationally in using technology to enhance and customize the art museum experience.”

Visitors to Gallery One will discover new ways of interpreting the museum’s distinguished collection through a variety of hands-on and technology-based activities. Works of art from the permanent collection on view in the gallery, include masterpieces by Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, Viktor Schreckengost, Giovanni Panini and Chuck Close. Games encourage visitors to see themselves in the collection, matching their faces to works of art or striking the poses of sculptures. In addition, touchscreen interactives and the museum’s new ArtLens iPad application allow visitors to explore how works of art were made, where they came from and why they were produced. At every turn, technology is used to bring visitors back to works of art and to open multiple perspectives on the collection.

“It’s very important to us that visitors interact with real objects, rather than digital reproductions,” said David Franklin. “We want visitors to look closely at original art works and to make personal connections to what they are seeing.”

“Technology is a vital tool for supporting visitor engagement with the collection,” adds C. Griffith Mann, Deputy Director and Chief Curator. “Putting the art experience first required an unprecedented partnership between the museum’s curatorial, design, education and technology staff.”

Comprised of three major areas, Gallery One offers something for visitors of all ages and levels of comfort with art. Studio Play is a bright and colorful space that offers the museum’s youngest visitors and their families a chance to play and learn about art. Highlights of this portion of Gallery One include: Line and Shape, a multi-touch, microtile wall on which visitors can draw lines that are matched to works of art in the collection; a shadow-puppet theater where silhouettes of objects can be used as “actors” in plays; mobile- and sculpture-building stations where visitors can create their own interpretations of modern sculptures by Calder and Lipchitz; and a sorting and matching game featuring works from the permanent collection. This space is designed to encourage visitors of all ages to become active participants in their museum experience.

In the main gallery space, visitors have an opportunity to learn about the collection and to develop ways of looking at art that are both fun and educational. The gallery is comprised of fourteen themed groups of works from the museum’s collection, six of which have “lens” stations. The “lens” stations comprise 46” multi-touch screens that offer additional contextual information and dynamic, interactive activities that allow visitors to create experiences and share them with others through links to social media. Another unique feature of the space is the Beacon, an introductory, dynamic screen that displays real-time results of visitors’ activities in the space, such as favorite objects, tours and activities.

One of the most unique and innovative aspects of Gallery One is the Collection Wall, a 40-foot, interactive, microtile wall featuring works of art from the permanent collection that rotates by theme and type, such as time period, materials and techniques, as well as curated views of the collection.

“The Collection Wall is a fulcrum between Gallery One and the permanent collection galleries,” said Caroline Goeser, Director of Education and Interpretation. “It displays the collection in a way that is constantly changing and evolving. You have a chance to see it differently depending on the perspective or theme that’s shown.”

The largest multi-touch screen in the United States, the Collection Wall utilizes innovative technology to allow visitors to browse these works of art on the Wall, facilitating discovery and dialogue with other visitors. The Collection Wall can also serve as an orientation experience, allowing visitors to download existing tours or curate their own tours to take out into the galleries on iPads. The Collection Wall, as well as the other interactive in the gallery, illustrates the museum’s long-term investment in technology to enhance visitor access to factual and interpretative information about the permanent collection.

“The Collection Wall powerfully demonstrates how cutting-edge technology can inspire our visitors to engage with our collection in playful and original ways never before seen on this scale,” said Jane Alexander, Director of Information Management and Technology Services. “This space, unique among art museums internationally, will help make the Cleveland Museum of Art a destination museum.”

In concert with the opening of Gallery One, the museum has also created ArtLens, a multi-dimensional app for iPads. Utilizing image recognition software, visitors can scan two-dimensional objects in Gallery One and throughout the museum’s galleries to access up to 9 hours of additional multimedia content, including audio tour segments, videos and additional contextual information. Indoor triangulation-location technology also allows visitors to orient themselves in the galleries and find works of art with additional interpretive content throughout their visit.

Additionally, visitors will have an opportunity to dock their iPad, or one borrowed from the museum, at the Collection Wall. Visitors who use the Collection Wall to browse the collection can save their favorites to their iPad. These saved objects can then be combined into a customized tour, so visitors can direct their exploration of the collections on view in the museum’s permanent collection galleries. Curated tours by the museum’s director and staff as well as other visitors can also be found on the app.

“ArtLens allows the visitor to take the experience of Gallery One out in to the other areas of the museum,” said Caroline Goeser. “It brings in many voices and traditions from different cultures, as well as giving visitors a chance to see demonstrations of art making techniques by local artists. The content is layered so visitors can choose what interests them and discover new ways of looking at and interpreting the object. Their experience is guided by their own sense of curiosity and discovery.”

The museum partnered with several other companies to complete the project, including Local Projects (media design and development), Gallagher and Associates (design and development), Zenith (AV Integration), Piction (CMS/DAM development), Earprint Productions (app content development), and Navizon (way-finding).
 
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LONDON.- "The British Museum has acquired a digital copy of the Trust for African Rock Art (TARA) photographic archive to ensure that this important collection is preserved and made widely available, thanks to generous support from the Arcadia Fund. The 25,000 digital photographs of rock art sites from across Africa will be catalogued and made accessible through the British Museum’s online collection catalogue, drawing on documentation from TARA staff and archaeological and anthropological research. The Museum will digitise its own African pictorial collection of 19th and 20th century photographs alongside the TARA images to support the integration of this archive.

The Museum’s African pictorial collection contains nearly 15,000 photographs that range from negatives, gel photos, glass plates, prints, and most recently, digital photographs. These are used for research, exhibitions, training, community outreach, museum partnership programmes and publications. Pictures in this collection are from throughout the African continent and embody the early stages of the medium up to the present day. Subjects include daily life, art, portraiture, official government photographs, natural landscapes and pictures from pre-colonial, colonial and independent Africa. The collection also holds film, video and audio recordings from various time periods and regions.

The TARA collection will be presented through the British Museum’s Collection Online and will form one of the most complete searchable databases on African rock art worldwide. Africa’s rock painting tradition is believed to date back at least 50,000 years while abstract engravings in the Cape, South Africa have been dated to 77,000 years of age.

Today only a handful of isolated cultures still engage in rock art and a few sites are still used for rituals, such as fertility and rainmaking, showing that it is still a living form of expression. TARA’s work over the last 30 years has created one of the best and most extensive photographic surveys of African rock art. Highlights from this collection include images of sites across the Fezzan of Southwest Libya, with dates ranging from 10,000 BC to 100 AD. These include sites in the Messak Sattafet as well as in the Acacus Mountains, (part of the Tadrart-Acacus trans-frontier UNESCO World Heritage site) and depict a wide range of subjects, such as hippopotami, men in chariots and hunting scenes. There is a survey of South African sites showing the different styles and subject matters of the Khoi, San and other groups from thousands of years ago to the recent past day. The collection also includes engravings and graffiti by European settlers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In east Africa, the TARA archive contains geometric paintings and engravings by Twa forager-hunters as well as paintings of livestock, shields and clan markings made by Maasai and Samburu pastoralists in rock shelters. In addition to these depictions there are images of rock gongs, rocks with natural resonance once used for communication and divination.

As rock art can be susceptible to destruction by natural and man-made events, and, in most cases, is fairly inaccessible geographically, this project will allow a greater access to rock art images and research for both academic and general audiences. By integrating these images with existing African collections, the British Museum is able to offer new insights into the techniques and tools used, the subjects represented and the people that made them.

The project will take five years and involve research by Museum staff and on-going collaboration with TARA, as well as involving African communities. Through the incorporation of this collection into the British Museum’s online database, people across the world will be able to both use and contribute to the archive and its documentation. Partnership between TARA and the Museum will help preserve and disseminate this important collection and establish it as a major academic resource. By combining a wide range of research from the Museum, TARA’s international network and colleagues in Africa, the archive will capture and preserve knowledge about rock art for future generations. " Artdail.org