The Monuments Men, directed by George Clooney and starting Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, and others, tells the story of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program, an Allied group charged with the task of saving art objects and other cultural items looted by the Nazis during World War II. The group consisted of soldiers who had experiences in museums and other cultural institutions as curators, registrars, and educators. One of the Newark Museum’s own staff members was a member of this important elite group.
Francis W. Bilodeau was a young graduate of Bowdoin College in his native Maine when he joined the staff of the Newark Museum in 1938. Initially assigned to the Lending Department (later the Education Loan Collection), he was soon transferred to the Registrars’ Department where he was in charge of the care and preservation of American paintings and sculptures. In 1940-41 he took of year off to study art history at Yale University, and in 1942 he was drafted into the U.S. Army.
During the war, Bilodeau served as Staff Sergeant with the Combat Engineer Battalion of the 8th Division, in which role he saw active duty in Normandy. Immediately after the war, he was assigned to the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program and posted to the Marburg Collecting Point, which was one of three centers in the American zone of occupied Germany. His group was responsible for conserving artwork damaged during the war and returning it to its rightful owners. As director of the Marburg Collecting Point and later the Wiesbaden Collecting Point, he was instrumental in arranging a series of exhibitions displaying these masterpieces to a population that had been deprived of art for most of the war. These exhibitions were some of the first to be presented in post-war Germany, and some of them even traveled to the United States. One of his most unusual accomplishments was his oversight of the reburial of the bodies of Frederick the Great; his father Frederick Wilhelm, the “soldier king;” and Field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg, the World War I hero, and his wife.
After his service in the military government, Bilodeau returned to the States to finish his graduate studies at Yale University and to start a doctoral program at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. In 1951 he returned to the Newark Museum as the curator of the American art collection, but in 1952 he left to become the Education Supervisor at the New-York Historical Society. In his long career in the museum field, he also served as an administrator at the John Herron Art Museum in Indianapolis (now the Indianspolis Museum of Art); the Sheldon Swope Art Gallery in Terre Haute, Indiana; the R. W. Norton Art Gallery in Shreveport, Louisiana; and other cultural organizations.
In 1998 the Federal Republic of Germany honored Mr. Bilodeau for his “remarkable and successful efforts to save valuable works of art” by “protecting German property and works of art and preventing the perpetration of new wrongs.” “Your distinguished, indeed, exemplary service in this post remains unforgotten,” wrote the German Foreign Minister.
- William A. Peniston, PhD., Librarian/Archivist
The Newark Museum’s latest acquisition is a large-scale bronze sculpture of a meditative figure with head resting in hands. Look carefully and you see that the figure is composed entirely from the forms of women’s shoes. The knees and thighs are composed from a pair of clogs, the feet are Mary Janes, and several high heels, some folded over, form the head. Ordinary objects of everyday dress are revealed in new ways.
For decades, artist Willie Cole has creatively transformed used shoes and other found objects — including blow dryers, bicycle parts and ironing boards — into imaginative works of art. Sole Sitter is an enlarged version of a sculpture by Cole assembled from actual shoes. The title is a play on words: “sole” evokes both the everyday (worn shoe bottoms) as well as the exceptional, while its homophone “soul” connotes spiritual essence.
The work’s form and dark patina also reflect the influence of African sculpture, which the artist was introduced to as a child growing up in Newark and visiting the Newark Museum. When I first saw this sculpture — in a photograph the artist took shortly after the work was cast in a foundry in Georgia — I immediately saw resemblances to works of art from central Africa. While Cole doesn’t base his sculptures on a specific African tradition or aesthetic, he surrounds himself with images of African art which filter into his subconsious and re-emerge in his work. “I’m exploring the ‘African’ aesthetic in general,” Cole says, “and re-presenting it in a neo-pop art idiom.”
Sole Sitter is on view in the South Wing rotunda, just up the stairs from the museum’s entrance. You can see examples of African art, a source of inspiration for Willie Cole , in the African galleries on the second floor . Another work by the artist is currently on view in the exhibition Papyraceous, in the American art galleries, on the second floor of the Museum’s North Wing.
- Christa Clarke, Ph.D., Senior Curator, Arts of Global Africa
Museum Musings by Amanda
The role of a teacher is vital to any child’s learning. They help kids focus their critical reading skills with questions like: Who? What? Where? Why? How? The Dynamic Earth and emPowered exhibits answer all of these questions with ease and comfort while enhancing the learning experience with fun technology. From the Natural Selection finch racing game to the wild tornado simulator, visitors can engage with technology that is designed to help them focus on the educational aspects of the exhibit while having fun. There is a sound satellite that kids can rotate to find the sound of the animals, and there are sustainable energy wheels and throttles that engage visitors of all ages. By engaging the visitor with cool technology, this exhibit becomes a great hands-on learning tool for teachers, parents and kids. After visiting this exhibit and using with the interactives, kids will probably be more interested in finishing their science homework! All of a sudden, Darwin’s theory doesn’t seem so hypothetical and antiquated; by giving a taste of the real life implications and allowing kids to have a go at it, their interest is heightened and the subjects that once were lackluster come to life through the creative space and engaging stations.
Walking through the exhibits, I found myself remembering the science textbooks of my earlier school years. The covers of these textbooks were always eye-catching with colorful illustrations like rainforest frogs, bolts of lightening or the solar system. While these books were always entertaining the class with vivid illustrations and photographs between the lengthy paragraphs of dry information, these science textbooks were also always thick and heavy. The exhibits Dynamic Earth and emPowered, with engaging play stations and artistry much like the textbooks are a great place to go visit as your child’s science class learns about animal habitats, the food chain, energy and sustainability, and earth’s minerals and materials. Exploring the e is an engaging and seamless adventure through the different chapters of the science textbook. I came out understanding more about different topics and had fun using the cool technology that makes the exhibit modern and integrated, and fun and hands-on!
Museum Musings by Amanda
The theme this week at Camp Newark Museum is ‘Make a Sustainable Future.’ You might think that learning about hydroelectricity, solar, wind and geothermal power would be soporific to the indefatigable campers (don’t you wish they sold Little Kid Energy instead of 5-Hour Energy?—it would last a whole day!). But as I watched from outside the classroom of the 5 and 6 year olds, waiting to take pictures, the kids were fully attentive and eager to engage as the high school aged science Explorers explained to them the multitude of uses and importance of reusable energy sources. The reason for the campers’ full attention is the structure of each day at camp. A well oiled machine, Camp Newark Museum has been around for years serving families in the surrounding area, from Newark to Springfield. The staff is committed to making each day rewarding and fun for the campers at the same time keeping the kids safe and healthy.
A camper at Camp Newark Museum has a busy schedule every day. Special activities range from Art to Science, from Music and Movement to Maker Corp, and from Planetarium play to free time in the garden. The older groups even take weekly trips to the local Glassroots and come home with unique glass art that they have made themselves. The art projects made in class are based on pieces in the Newark Museum’s expansive art collection. The Camp Exhibition of Week One focused on the Chinese New Year. Each class created dragons to celebrate the holiday. Chinese culture is important to the museum because of the large Chinese art collection at the museum. If you visited the galleries that week you probably would have seen the camp classes walking through the Chinese collection looking for inspiration for their dragons.
Testimonials on the Newark Museum website speak for themselves. One parent wrote “It was our first summer camp experience—fun and educational at the same time…What a treasure in NJ! Thank you for such a positive experience.” Stop by the museum for a visit to the galleries and consider sending your child to have fun and learn at the same time at Camp Newark Museum! The Newark Museum proves to be a wonderful camp environment for kids ages 3 to 13! Send your child for one week-long session or sign up for the last three. The themes for the next three weeks are: July 29-August 2, Wild Weather; August 5-9, Space Rover; August 12-16, What Bugs You. Call 973.596.6637 or email campnewarkmuseum@newarkmuseum,org for more information.
Museum Musings by Amanda
This past Thursday I was inspired at Jazz in the Garden. Really, I’m more into pop music and light rock. I love Maroon 5 and Gavin DeGraw; but, Ulysses Owens Jr. and the quartet of musicians on stage were actually quite delightful despite the temperature reaching nearly 100 degrees. In the shade of the garden at the Newark Museum, I felt very relaxed listening to ‘Yellow Bird’, a song which captivated the audience with its changing rhythm. Right before the piece, the drummer, Mr. Owens Jr., introduced the piece by telling the audience to imagine themselves on a paradise island. I did. I felt the cool ocean breeze and the condensation dripping down my hand; a hand that I imagined was holding a strawberry margarita (non-alcoholic, of course; and it was probably just sweat). The melody was light, relaxing and calming. I soon forgot the stresses of everyday—cooking for company for the weekend, cleaning the house in preparation, and my least favorite chore…laundry. But, the jazz was soothing and allowed me to eat my lunch in peace. Even as I write this, I am listening to the Jazz Pandora station I recently created, based on the trumpeter Tatum Greenblatt. I’m looking forward to making a Jazz mix CD for my car. My grandfather would be so proud.
July 17th, the day preceding last week’s Jazz concert, marked the calendar as one month exactly since my start date as an intern at the Newark Museum. In just one month, I’ve grown more passionate about different types of art—the mediums on which they’re produced, the genre, the color palettes, the sound—and also realized that I want to work in an environment dedicated to cultivating others’ passions and curiosities. I really owe the museum big-time for the exposure it’s given me as my time here becomes noticeably shorter–without which I would be stressed, uninterested in expanding my musical horizons, and bored of the same 50 tracks that constantly play when I listen to my iPod. Z100, bite the dust; I’ve got a new station to listen to…88.3 Jazz FM.
From our morning rituals to our time at work, each moment of our day is filled with routine. Because of the fast paced world we live in, we try to shave off a few seconds from everything we do in order to meet deadlines and find time to sleep!. All of these influences can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle. Not getting enough exercise, eating junk food and fattening fast food, and having incredible amounts of stress in our lives keep us from fulfilling one of the most common New Year’s resolutions — losing weight. We fail at this resolution because we have a very limited amount of time everyday, not because we don’t try or because we don’t have enough drive.
Generation Fit is an exciting cornerstone exhibition at the Newark Museum that parents and children alike can use to create a better lifestyle; for two years it has been inviting visitors to make better choices. The use of interactive stations that include bicycle-based games, the Microsoft Xbox Kinect game system, and the Power Plate, which uses technology originally developed for astronauts, creates an atmosphere that encourages everyone to participate while disguising exercise with fun.
The enjoyment is non-stop when using the Xbox Kinect game system. The idea of dancing to lose weight grabs the attention of adults who enter the exhibit and enchants the children who just want to dance and play games. The use of the Xbox Kinect system, Zumba Fitness game and Just Dance game series provides an assortment of tunes and difficulty levels for all to groove to. However, the fun and exercise experienced by anyone who enters this exhibit isn’t the sole purpose for attending. Along with these games and activities there are stations that teach us how to better maintain our fashionable figures. Featuring friendly illustrations, this exhibit will enlighten and motivate everyone who steps inside to learn, play and —more importantly —exercise.
- Steven – Marketing Intern
Hi there! I’m Steven and I am currently interning here at the Newark Museum. I will be here throughout the summer giving you my take on the different works of art, as well as a peek into some great events and happenings.
There are times I wish that I was born in a different time period. The allure of wielding a katana while wearing samurai armor; of the battlefields and warring eras along with the glory that came from an honorable life in Japan long ago; the simple and romanticized life of the samurai has always captured my attention. That being said, I find everything inspired by those time periods is worth experiencing. The teapot Behind Quiet Veils of the Blue Willow, created in 2000 by artist Red Weldon Sandlin, incorporates a story of star-crossed lovers — an idea that we’ve all heard about — that originated in the 1700s by Josiah Spode in order to market his mass-produced imitation tableware by illustrating traditional Chinese customs. Romanticized views of ancient Chinese legends, such as the story of Spode, grabbed the attention of Westerners and created a market for blue and white porcelain especially in the 19th and 20th centuries. Sandlin uses this story to not only incorporate Chinese customs, but also to instill the notion that change is inevitable.
The illustrations on this teapot come from the above-mentioned story, the story of the Blue Willow. The star-crossed lovers being from different social classes were not allowed to be together, so they hid. Their secret meetings under a willow tree kept them alive and more importantly, near each other. As they saw no end to their forced separation, they did something that is more common today — they eloped, in order to live together happily. This act of defiance was the beginning of change for the couple. Followed by more change the couple achieved what they always wanted, eternity together. They received this gift from their gods by being turned into doves and allowed eternal lives at their willow tree.
- Steven – Marketing Intern