Exploring the Arts: The Museum. New Series Quarterlies
Between 1949 and 1983, the Newark Museum published, usually four times a year, short articles on the fine arts, the decorative arts and the natural sciences. Known originally as The Museum. New Series, it was later renamed The Newark Museum Quarterly in the 1970s. Each issue was devoted to a specific aspect of the various collections within the Museum, thus allowing the curator (or the guest writer) to explore in detail the diverse topics that are represented in those collections. In some cases, these pamphlets remain the most thorough review of those topics or collecti
In the fine arts, for example, Curator Edith Bishop wrote about “Three Early New England Portraits” and “Newark Portraits,” both in 1949, focusing on paintings by Joseph Badger, John Singleton Copley, Ralph Earl, Rembrandt Peale and Oliver Tarbell Eddy. In 1965, Curator William Gerdts recruited Samuel A. Roberson to help him write an entire issue devoted to The Greek Slave by Hiram Powers, which they entitled “… so undressed, yet so refined …”
Quarterlies in the decorative arts ranged from “Bridal Gowns” and “Costumes from 1790 to 1837” to European and American ceramics, silver and glass. Curator Ulysses Dietz wrote one of the last quarterlies, entitled “Century of Revivals,” which examined “Nineteenth-Century American Furniture in the Newark Museum.”
Birds and insects; shells and fossils; minerals, crystals and gems; all received their due by the natural science curators who were in charge of those collections. Emphasizing the relationship between the Museum’s science collections to the State’s physical environment, they also explored “Life on Harbor Buoys,” “Embattled Marshlands” and “The Pequannock Watershed.”
The Newark Museum’s collections are global in scope, including “Japanese Prints” (both traditional and contemporary), “Japanese Sculpture and Painting,” “Japanese Netsuke and Ojima,” as well as “Textiles and Costumes of India” and “Temple Sculpture from India.” In both the 1950s and the 1960s, the African art collection was reviewed by a curator and a renowned expert in the field. Curator Edward Hunter Ross highlighted “American Indian Material” in 1958 and the “Arts of the Pacific” in 1963. “Latin American Antiquities” was the subject of one quarterly, and “Southwest Easel Painting” was the subject of another.
In 1951, the Newark Museum acquired the Eugene Schaefer Collection of Classical Antiquities, and the curator at the time, Elsbeth Dusenbury, wrote about its amazing ancient glass collection, as well as its “Greek Vases, Jewelry, Terracotta and Other Objects.” Her successor, Susan Auth, studied the Museum’s “Coptic Art” in 1978.
Among the more unusual quarterlies were: “Make Believe and Whimsy: European and American Dolls,” “What’s a Hat?” and “Carpenter and Blacksmith: The Pioneer Builders of America,” all written by Margaret E. White, the decorative arts curator at that time. The librarian Barbara Lipton wrote on “Newark Long Ago,” examining 19th-century photographs in the Museum’s collection, as well as “Whaling Days in New Jersey.” For the 70th anniversary of the Newark Museum, one quarterly examined the life and work of John Cotton Dana and another celebrated his lasting influence on the institution that he helped to create.
These Newark Museum Quarterlies (originally entitled The Museum. New Series) are now available on-line as PDFs. They are all cataloged as well in Newark Public Library’s on-line catalog, which hosts the Museum’s Library’s collection. Researchers may search by author, title or subject. Please check out the complete run by series titles under both Museum. New Series. and Newark Museum Quarterly at http://tinyurl.com/l7aflkg or http://tinyurl.com/m6kqhzy.
– William A. Peniston, Ph.D.. Librarian
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