The Newark Museum @ 110 Part I: Dana on Libraries and Museums

In celebration of the 110th anniversary of the Newark Museum – and in celebration of the 130th anniversary of the Newark Public Library – the two institutions are collaborating on a joint exhibition entitled Promoting Books and Objects: Empowering Newarkers. It will be on view on the third floor of the Newark Public Library through August 31, 2019. Over the course of this exhibition, the Newark Museum will present a series of blogs highlighting some of its central themes. Today, we begin with a brief overview of John Cotton Dana’s tenure as the second director of the Newark Public Library and as the first director of the Newark Museum.

Ruzicka color

Rudolph Ruzicka, “The River Bank,” from Newark: A Series of Engravings on Wood by Rudolph Ruzicka, 1917

Dana once wrote: “A city should adorn itself. It should not only keep its streets neat and clean, supply itself with good water and construct ample sewers, set up beautiful parks, build plenty of attractive schools, and wear always that air, hospitable to learning, wisdom, and art, which has distinguished the world’s best cities; it should also take on certain material indications of culture and refinement, such as libraries and museums.”

NPL ca.1902

The Newark Public Library, ca.1902

Public libraries, in Dana’s opinion, were “a means for elevating and refining … tastes, for giving greater efficiency to every worker, for diffusing sound principles of social and political action, and for furnishing intellectual culture to all.” Museums were designed “to give pleasure, to make manners seem more important, to promote skill, to exalt handwork, and to increase the zest of life by adding to it new interests.” Both institutions were indispensable for an advanced industrial democracy because some people learned through books – hence, the need for libraries – and others learned through objects – hence, the need for museums.

TNM Exterior 1926 2909

The Newark Museum, ca.1926

At the Newark Public Library, Dana proceeded to develop ways to make information more accessible to all Newarkers. He purchased books for all citizens, including foreign language materials for immigrants, illustrated stories for children, and special books for the blind. He increased the borrowing period from two weeks to one month, established a system of interlibrary loans, developed a special color-coded filing system, and opened the first business library in the country in 1904. Dana assiduously advocated for new ways to make the Library more useful. He did so by printing bookplates, broadsides, booklists, and pamphlets, as well as by writing numerous articles in library periodicals and Newark newspapers.

JCD Bookplate

John Cotton Dana bookplate in Japanese style

In 1909 Dana founded the Newark Museum as a compliment to the Library’s educational mission. He mounted innovative exhibitions, built outstanding collections, and served the community through a variety of programs designed to meet the needs and interests of the public. “A good museum attracts, entertains, arouses curiosity, leads to questioning – and thus promotes learning,” Dana wrote, and a century later, the Newark Museum is still proud to be carrying on that tradition.

-William A. Peniston, Ph.D., Librarian/Archivist

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February 1, 2019 at 8:58 am Leave a comment

C. Suydam Cutting and East Africa

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The Newark Museum. Collection of C. Suydam Cutting. Gift of Mrs. C. Suydam Cutting 1988.
88.1140

Born into a wealthy New York family, Charles Suydam Cutting (1889-1972) graduated from the elite Groton School in 1908 and from Harvard University in 1912. He began his engineering career with M. W. Kellog Co. where he specialized in sales. During World War I and II, he served in the U.S. Army.

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The Newark Museum. Collection of C. Suydam Cutting. Gift of Mrs. C. Suydam Cutting 1988. 88.1052

An avid sportsman, Cutting became a champion of indoor tennis, both on the court and off. In 1925, he and his brother won the national doubles title. However, it was his interest in the natural sciences that led him to participate in a number of expeditions to Central Asia, East Africa, and the islands of the Indian and Pacific Oceans in the 1920s and 1930s. Under the sponsorship of several museums, especially the Field Museum of Natural History and the American Museum of Natural History, where he later served as a trustee, Cutting and his colleagues collected some remarkable examples of the flora and fauna of the lands that they visited. He also took countless photographs and made several motion pictures of some, but not all, of these travels. In a series of articles for Natural History between 1931 and 1941, he recorded his experiences, and later in 1940, he published his book, The Fire Ox and Other Years.

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The Newark Museum. Collection of C. Suydam Cutting. Gift of Mrs. C. Suydam Cutting 1988. 88.1075

Through the generosity of John H. McFadden and his wife Lisa D. Kabnick in honor of his sister Mary McFadden, a great-niece of Mr. Cutting, who inherited his sense of adventure, the Newark Museum is pleased to announce the digitation of some of his photographic work relating to his trip to Ethiopia in 1926.

Sponsored by the Field Museum of Natural History and financed by the Chicago Daily News, this expedition included Jack Baum, the newspaper’s representative; Dr. Wilfred Hudson Osgood, the Field Museum’s curator of mammals, and his assistant, Alfred Bailey; the famous ornithologist and artist, Louis Agassiz Fuertes; and Mr. Cutting. Fuertes’ Album of Abyssinian Birds and Mammals, published in 1930, became one of the most important – and most beautiful – scientific treatises on ornithology and mammalogy in Eastern Africa.

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The Newark Museum. Collection of C. Suydam Cutting. Gift of Mrs. C. Suydam Cutting 1988. 88.1182

In Addis-Ababa, they secured the permission of the Regent, Ras Tafari Makonnen (later Emperor Haile Selassie), who entertained them in the royal palace. The southern journey took them to the Arussi plateau, “the home of the rare mountain nyala, the black bushbuck, and other rare game.” The northern journey led them to the Amharic plateau, “a complicated pattern of mountains and mile-deep canyons,” between which are “good rolling prairies.” Among the many specimens of mammals and birds that Cutting and his colleagues brought back to the United States was an alive baby dog-faced baboon, Tinnish, and three Gelada baboons, all destined for the Chicago Zoo.

Donated by his widow, Mary Pyne Filley Cutting, in 1988, these photographs document the experiences of Cutting and his colleagues. They include Galla men and women at work on the Arussi plateau, festive receptions by one of the local chieftain, Ras Hailu, in the Gojam province, scenery from the Amharic plateau and its mountains, and other aspects of life in eastern Africa in 1926.

— William A. Peniston, Ph.D., Librarian/Archivist

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Credit: C. Suydam Cutting, The Fire Ox and Other Years (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1940), p.348.

 

December 20, 2018 at 11:40 am Leave a comment

Meet Our Curators: William Coleman and Amy Hopwood

William L. Coleman, Ph.D. is Associate Curator of American Art.

What is your role here at the Museum? 

My focus is on the world-class colonial and nineteenth-century American collections, with a particular interest in landscape painting. In addition, I am assisting Curator of American Art Tricia Laughlin Bloom with the catalogue Arc of Abstraction and the overhaul of our modern and contemporary galleries. Day to day, I conduct research on both objects we already own and potential acquisitions that could fill gaps in the collection. In addition, I assist scholars and members of the public with inquiries about early American objects and represent the Newark Museum to the wider museum and academic communities

What makes your work at the Museum important?

This institution has one of the most important collections of early American art in the world. As a result, this part of the collection is the subject of frequent inquiries from a wide range of constituencies, including other institutions who hope to borrow our works for temporary exhibitions.

What projects are you working on currently and long-term?

My immediate priorities are to devote more attention to our still life and genre paintings, hugely important in their period but often overlooked here because the major landscape holdings demand so much attention. In the longer term, I am laying the groundwork for a variety of projects that relate to my piece of the collections, including an idea for a show on global art colony movements.

Where is your favorite place to have lunch in Newark?

La Cocina on New Street for delicious Cuban food.

Do you have a favorite collection piece? 

My current favorite is Albert Bierstadt’s intimate but virtuosic Sunshine and Shadow, now on view in gallery N115. This intimate work in oil on paper mounted on canvas is very different, both in its subject and scale, from those people might expect from the artist. His virtuosic handling of light in this beautiful little painting urges greater attention to the technique at work in his sweeping Western views, not just the big ideas that technique was used to convey.

Amy Hopwood, Associate Curator of Decorative Arts

What is your role at the museum?

For me, being a curator means developing, protecting, researching, exhibiting and promoting the Decorative Arts collections to the Newark Museum members, to the public and to students and scholars. Each day brings the possibility of a new inquiry; an offer of a donation; discussion with the Registrar’s department about cataloging, storing, conserving, lending or displaying the collection; or speaking with the Exhibitions and Education departments and docents about interpretation. All of these discussions give me opportunities to study the objects within the Decorative Arts collection, in order to know them better and build a foundation for all the other projects connected to the collection.

What is your background?

During college, I interned at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and created my own project to catalog and research historic clothing discovered in the Amherst College Theater Department’s costume collection. The 19th- and 20th-century clothing had been donated and used as theater costumes over the years.

What’s important to know about curating decorative arts?

I studied at the Winterthur Program in Delaware, where I learned how to handle and study objects and discovered what questions to ask about them: What do the materials, construction and decoration of an object reveal about the people and culture that made it? What was the original use and how might that have changed over time? Given these layers of meaning, what stories can the object describe to a museum visitor? I applied these questions as Curator for Costumes and Textiles at the San Diego Historical Society. I look forward to applying these ideas to the Decorative Arts collection here at the Newark Museum.

What makes your work at the Museum important?

I mentioned the Registrar’s department in the first question. We work together as a team for all the behind-the-scenes work to bring objects into the collection, store them safely, and exhibit them here or through loans to other museums. I see all of my work as part of a machine with lots of interconnected parts. I enjoy discussing projects with all of the curators so that we can intertwine objects and ideas across all of the collections. I also work with the Exhibition, Education, Publications & Marketing, and Members’ departments to insure that all of the exhibitions, docent tours, school tours and public programs integrate my curatorial research with the interpretive approaches used by the educators, docents and Junior Explorers.

What projects are you working on currently and long-term?

Currently I am developing two exhibitions based upon a collection of French couture jewelry and a collection of 1920s and 1930s art glass. Both exhibition will have their own theme, but I want to introduce the visitor to how the objects were made, what the materials and designs reveal about their makers and time, and provide a connection to the Newark Museum’s connections. The visitor might also see their own glass and jewelry in a new way.

Where is your favorite place to have lunch in Newark?

I have a special fondness for diners, so I’ll name Central Restaurant and The Deluxe Diner as my favorites

Do you have a favorite collection object?

This is a tough question as there are so many incredible choices. Even though it is not in the Decorative Arts collection, Gold Cakra Lamp by the Korean artist, Choe U-Ram (2014.1) is high on my list. I love the designs created by the moving parts, how it is influenced by the viewer’s motions, and the feeling of calm that the visual patterns and movement creates. With all of the interruptions and multitasking of today, I love to stand and look at this artwork, soaking up its beauty and peacefulness.

June 11, 2018 at 1:41 pm Leave a comment

Decolonizing the Museum, Part Two

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Wendy Red Star. Winter, 2006. From the series The Four Seasons. Archival pigment print on sunset fiber rag, 23 x 26 in. Gift of Loren G. Lipson, MD, 2016 2016.46.1.3. ©Wendy Red Star

In October 2017, Art in America devoted an entire issue to Native American art, and the Newark Museum was invited to contribute to this national conversation. Along with distinguished curators and leaders from museums throughout the United States and Canada, Tricia Laughlin Bloom, Ph. D., Newark’s Curator of American Art since 2015, was asked to discuss practices and policies for decolonizing museums. The full roundtable includes contributions by Wanda Nanibush (Art Gallery of Ontario), Karen Kramer (Peabody Essex Museum), Ben Garcia (San Diego Museum of Man), Lara M. Evans (Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe), as well as Bloom, and is recommended reading for all concerned with access and equity in museums. It can be read here.   Here’s the excerpted transcript of Tricia Bloom’s contribution:

Museums tell stories. The older and more diverse a museum’s collection, the fuller the stories it can tell—but only if the collection is used wisely. As purveyors of culture, museums always risk falling into patterns—telling familiar stories, one-sided stories. It is not enough to collect with a broad and democratic mission, as the Newark Museum has done for more than one hundred years. Rich holdings of Native American art—or the art of any non-hegemonic group—do not benefit anyone if the works remain in storage. It is critical to find ways to put objects into thoughtful contexts. The vitality of the objects, which come to life when placed within a larger visual exchange, and the attention of the visitors, who grow weary of the same tired scripts, depend on it.

In 2016 the Newark Museum relocated its Native American collection from a tuck-away space to a central gallery on the ground floor, at the intersection of the Decorative Arts, Asian Art, and American Art galleries, steering our visitors toward the new conversations we want to have about the Museum’s global collections. Titled “Native Artists of North America,” this long-term installation presents a selection of rarely exhibited historical objects, which have been taken from storage, studied, treated, and reinterpreted. They are arranged with ample space and light, allowing visitors to get up close to the materials, and reflect the experience of six different curators, including five leading indigenous artists and scholars from around the country. “Native Artists” becomes, in effect, the way into Seeing America, Newark’s recently reconceived display of American art, featuring Indigenous art—historical, modern, and contemporary—installed through the chronological narrative.

While the basic story of Seeing America may look familiar, the museum has intentionally made the aesthetic equivalent of large demographic shifts in these galleries over the past two years. The reconfigured long-term exhibition integrates works of Latin American, African American, and Indigenous art—largely pulled from storage—into the overall history of American art. The ongoing challenge is to continue to build the collection in underrepresented areas and to make the acquired works part of the public stories we tell.

The Newark Museum is organizing a solo exhibition featuring new work by Portland-based artist Wendy Red Star, (Apsáalooke) Crow; Opening February, 2019.

 

December 12, 2017 at 11:59 am Leave a comment

Decolonizing the Museum, Part One

Kay WalkingStick. Me and My Neon Box

Kay WalkingStick. Me and My Neon Box, 1971. Acrylic on canvas, 54 x 60 in. Newark Museum purchase, 2017. ©Kay WalkingStick

In honor of Native American Heritage Honth we’re highlighting a new acquisition, a major early work by Kay WalkingStick, Me and My Neon Box, 1971. An enrolled member of the Cherokee nation, throughout her long and celebrated career WalkingStick has advocated that Native American art is American art. Newark’s collecting has followed this integrative model from the beginning, and so we continue in the 21st century. This vibrant, large-scale painting—the 4th work by WalkingStick to enter the collection—will be a highlight of our expanded Pop Art gallery, opening in February 2019, part of a comprehensive reinstallation of the Seeing America galleries funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.

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Kay WalkingStick, circa 1971. ©Kay WalkingStick

Me and My Neon Box celebrates the feminine subject as powerful and erotically charged. Both playful and political, this work feels as relevant now as it did when it was painted at the birth of the feminist movement some 50 years ago.  Using her own naked body as a model WalkingStick painted contours and shadows in a hard-edge style that pops and glows with a saturated candy colored palette. It’s worth noting that in modern art in general—and especially in Pop Art—representations of women painted by women were rare and radical enough that WalkingStick experienced censorship in her efforts to show these works in the 1970s.

Me and My Neon Box is currently traveling in the retrospective Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist.  The final stop for this nationally touring exhibition will be the Montclair Art Museum February 3-June 18, 2018.

– Tricia Laughlin Bloom, Curator of American Art

 

November 29, 2017 at 10:21 am Leave a comment

Cutting Films: Earth Dog Year Celebrated with Presentation of Short Films

2018 is the Earth Dog Year in the Tibetan astronomical calendar. February 16th, the beginning of the new moon, marks the first day of the new year. Happy New Year!

To celebrate this occasion, the Newark Museum is pleased to present once again five short films that are excerpts of footage shot by C. Suydam Cutting, a wealthy sportsman, naturalist, and adventurer, who traveled to Tibet in the Iron Horse Year (1930), the Wood Pig Year (1935), and the Fire Ox Year (1937). On his numerous expeditions, mostly sponsored by prominent museums in the United States, Cutting and his colleagues collected remarkable examples of the flora and fauna. He also took countless photographs and made several motion pictures of some, but not all, of these travels.

 

BoyDrumming

Boy drumming: 17:32 (Yunnan and Szechuan)

Musical Arts of Asia celebrates music through the images of men and women singing, dancing, and playing musical instruments. Together, they reveal the disparate, dynamic, and melodic traditions of the peoples of Tibet and of the Szechuan and Yunnan Provinces of China. Many of the images come from receptions given in honor of Mr. Cutting and his party at the King’s palace in Muli (now Sichuan Province) (1928), the Panchen Lama’s monastery and palace in Shigatse (1935), or the Prime Minister’s house in Lhasa (1935). This short film also includes images of a funeral procession in Tali Fu in Yunnan Province (1928). It accompanies an installation of 25 works – prints, paintings, ivories, lacquer objects, and musical instruments – from China, Japan, Korea, India, Nepal, and Tibet, currently on display in the Newark Museum’s Asian Galleries.

WomenatWell

Women at the well: 38:30 (To Lhasa and Shigatse)

The Forbidden Cities of Tibet highlights the sights that Cutting and his entourage found in Gyantse, Shigatse, and Lhasa. To quote Cutting, “these fantastic cities slumbering in medieval tranquility,” with “a landscape well-nigh unrivalled for grandeur,” were inhabited by “one of the most attractive people on earth.” Marketplaces and monasteries, humble homes and grand residences are all showcased.

Nomad and Tent

Nomad in front of tent with mountain in background: 50:28 (To Lhasa and Shigatse)

Villagers, Farmers, and Nomads emphasizes the “unique” agriculture that Cutting noted on his first trip to Tibet in 1930. On the southern steppes of the Tibetan plateau, Cutting observed that many products were used not for human consumption but rather for the horses, cows, and yaks (who in turn supported the human population). Another significant group of Tibetans, however, were herders who “wander here and there across the windy plateau, leading their hardy nomadic lives.” Cutting stated, “Tibet is remarkably fortunate in its good health, its lack of overpopulation, and its ample and regular food supply.”

Boat on river

Boat on the Brahmaputra: 23:02 (To Lhasa and Shigatse)

In 1928 Cutting traveled with a group through Burma to Bhamo, “the last British outpost of civilization,” and then over the mountains to Yunnan Province, “a landscape of wide rolling valleys, circled by gaunt mountain ranges.” There he encountered several of what he exoticized as The Mystery Rivers of Asia. “The five great ‘mystery rivers’ of Tibet,” Cutting wrote, “tried to find their way southward through the Himalayas to the sea. The Irrawaddy, the Mekong, the Brahmaputra, and the Salween succeeded, but the frustrated Yangtze, flowing southward in orderly fashion like the others, found its path blocked… so there was nothing for it to do but go back northward in another channel.” In this short film, Cutting captured the adventure of crossing these rivers using a variety of vessels.

Cutting Map 2

From C. Suydam Cutting, The Fire Ox and Other Years (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1940, 1947).

Since its introduction in the 7th century, Buddhism has played a major role in the artistic, cultural, social, and political life of the Tibetan people. In this short film, Buddhism in Tibet, Cutting photographed practitioners (lamas, monks, artists, men, women, and children) as well as places (chortens, monasteries, temples) associated with Tibetan Buddhism. Prayer wheels, wind-horse flags, and prayer beads are all portrayed, although Cutting primarily focused on people.

Sponsorship

These five short films are drawn from many hours of footage that have been preserved digitally through the generosity of John H. McFadden and his wife Lisa D. Kabnick in honor of his sister Mary McFadden, a great-niece of Mr. Cutting who inherited his sense of adventure. The original films were donated in 1988 by Mr. Cutting’s widow, Mary Pyne Filley Cutting, a Trustee of the Newark Museum. They document Cutting’s expedition to Yunnan and Szechuan in 1928, the Cutting-Vernay expedition to Lhasa and Shigatse in 1935, and Cutting’s two other trips to Tibet in 1930 and 1937.

— William A. Peniston, Ph.D., Librarian/Archivist

July 7, 2017 at 2:52 pm Leave a comment

Docent’s Choice: The Arch of Titus

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The Newark Museum was awarded a Bank of America Art Conservation Project grant for the conservation of George Peter Alexander Healy, Frederic Edwin Church and Jervis McEntee’s The Arch of Titus.

As you approach The Arch of Titus, think of a painting by committee.

This treasured piece, completed in 1871, was conceived and produced by three American artists living in Rome. George Peter Alexander Healy, who came to be known as the painter of Presidents (more of his portraits have hung in the White House than any other artist), settled in Rome in 1866 where he later encountered fellow artists Frederick E. Church – a student of Hudson River’s School Thomas Cole – and noted landscape artist Jervis McEntee – himself a one-time student of Frederick Church. All three of them had settled in the city in search of aesthetic enlightenment. Together, following an idea of Healy’s, they joined forces in painting The Arch of Titus. Healy painted the figures, including the American icon Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his daughter Edith; Church painted the Arch; and McEntee painted the Colosseum.

This monumental collaborative painting, a rarity in American art circles of the day, was the result of Longfellow having commissioned Healy to paint a portrait of himself and his daughter Edith when they all happened to be in Rome at the same time. In the right-hand corner, we can see Church seated with pencil and pad sketching the landscape; Healy beaming over Church’s shoulder; and McEntee facing the viewer while gesturing towards Church’s hands. Longfellow and his daughter appear under the Arch.

The Arch of Titus, built between 81 and 96 A.D. to commemorate the sack of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 A.D., served as a scenic reminder of the large colony of American artists and writers, as well as wealthy American tourists, expatriates and art collectors, who flocked to the ancient capital of civilization for inspiration. In the aftermath of the Civil War, as America began to build factories, dig canals and construct railroads, artists as well as collectors saw the country evolving from an agrarian to an industrial economic society. American artists began to highlight landscapes as idyllic settings and American collectors began to prefer nostalgic art representing simpler and more certain times. With the growth of the middle class, as travel became easily accessible, the Arch and the Colosseum as well as other historic sites, became favorite landmarks to photograph, sketch, draw, or paint. They were all often used as backgrounds for portraits, another popular genre in 19th century American art. Consequently, The Arch of Titus is a “curious” historical American memorandum, as it commemorates the presence of American tourists and the body of work that visiting American artists produced in the “Eternal City” in the later decades of the 19th century.

George Peter Alexander Healy, a portrait artist born in Boston, was living in Europe having alternated residence between America and Europe, and in 1866 he moved with his family to Rome where he collaborated with Church and McEntee. It has been written that the sitters in Healy’s paintings evoke a sense of calmness, which can be seen in The Arch of Titus.

Unlike many of the artists of that period, Church did not study abroad. His father arranged for him to study with landscape artist Thomas Cole. However, after the loss of his wife and two children, he started a new life. Travelling to Jordan and Palestine, he ended his journey in Rome, where, day-to-day, he drew upon his memories and sketches to contribute to The Arch of Titus and other paintings.

Jervis McEntee, a student of Church, was born in Rondout, New York and educated in the tradition of the Hudson River School started by Church’s mentor, Thomas Cole. He traveled through Europe in 1869, the same year that Church visited Rome. Known for his diaries, which he kept from the early 1870s until his death in1891, McEntee depicted the day-to-day lives of his fellow artists, as well as the evolution of the 19th century’s art world.

The Arch of Titus speaks of the personal friendships between these three artists, as it celebrates and memorializes the camaraderie of American artists in Italy in the 19th century. As one stands before this treasure and meets the figures of Longfellow, his daughter and the three artists, we can feel like tourists from a bygone era on a walking tour, looking at the Arch and perhaps wondering about the reliefs on the walls, which are not clearly defined in the painting. Age has made many of the reliefs carved on the archway walls difficult to figure out, and hard to recognize what they describe and what stories they tell.

There are two scenes from triumphs that Titus celebrated. One of these, when he sacked the Great Temple at Jerusalem while fighting the Judean war, shows the loot including the golden table and silver trumpets; another shows the seven-branched candlestick (menorah) all taken back and deposited in his father’s (Vespasian) Temple of Peace. It is noted that the Arch was completed after his death and his figure appears riding heaven-ward on the back of an eagle. A Roman of that period would understand the stories behind the reliefs, and for us, it gives a sense of history. One relief shows captives carrying the Judean spoils back to Rome. Nero had sent Titus and others to crush the rebellion. In A.D. 70 Jerusalem fell; the Temple was burned; and the Judean state collapsed.

This painting invites a visitor to stand before it, noting its size, the figures, how they connect, and the choice of subject – and perhaps to opine about the subject.

And so, along with a heartfelt fatherly tableau of 19th century America’s beloved poet strolling with his daughter, we glean a bit of history and a bit of the lives of three master painters who, as chance would have it, came together, with Healy at the helm, to create this composite panoramic scene.

– Eleanor Barbash Berman, Volunteer Docent

Buckskin coat photoBank of America Art Conservation Project

Thanks to a generous grant from the Bank of America Art Conservation Project, the Museum is restoring a recently rediscovered and rare embroidered deerskin coat attributed to the Cherokee. This beautiful coat expands the scope of the Museum’s Native American clothing collection. After restoration, school groups, scholars and Museum visitors can enjoy seeing it up close. The coat will be ready for display in 2018 in the exhibition Native Artists of North America, the new permanent galleries highlighting Native American Art and part of the Museum’s newly reinterpreted Seeing America galleries.

Also restored through this grant is the 1871 painting The Arch of Titus, which has been part of the Museum’s American art collection since 1926. Recently completed and returned to the Museum’s Seeing America galleries, the large-scale work by George Peter Alexander, Frederic Edwin Church and Jervis McEntee will be on loan this fall to the Detroit Institute of Arts for its exhibition Frederic Church: To Jerusalem and Back.

The Museum began to collect Native American Art in 1910, and the collection includes holdings of Southwestern, Northwestern and Plains material from the 19th and 20th centuries. The embroidered frock coat is one of only about a dozen coats of this kind presently known in museum collections. Date estimates for this coat range from the late 18th to mid-19th century, which is fairly early among Native American artworks and clothing in museum collections. The conservation work consists of cleaning the entire coat, humidification to reduce the deerskin’s brittleness, seam repair, embroidery attachment and repositioning of the belt.

A few closely related coats are attributed to the Shawnee and Delaware and provide insight into indigenous arts of the Southeast and Oklahoma, which are poorly understood yet historically important, given the extreme cultural and material losses caused by the Indian Removal Act of 1830.

“Close study of the Newark Museum’s coat through the opportunity of conservation will yield many details of fabrication, materials and design, and add tremendous insight to the understanding of this group of objects,” said Adriana Greci Green, lead curator of Native Artists of North America.

 

June 2, 2017 at 10:46 am Leave a comment

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