Inspired by the Museum’s Collections, Visitors are Encouraged to Become Makers



Since its founding more than a century ago, the Newark Museum has been an institution of art, science and industry. These principles, guided by the philosophies of self-guided, hands-on and interactive learning have come together, once again, in the newly expanded MakerSPACE at the Newark Museum.

The facility inspires visitors to be artful, scientific and industrious in order to gain a greater appreciation and understanding of the objects on view in the Museum’s galleries.

Visitors of all ages are encouraged and guided in the making of art that is inspired by explorations of the Museum’s collections and by their own interests. By using low-cost everyday tools and materials — as well as state-of-the-art technology — participants can develop innovative designs and solutions for creative problems, scientific inquiries and design challenges.

MakerSPACE invites users to both play and discover. Equipment and supplies range from everyday castoffs, such as cardboard and plastic, to traditional art materials such as silk screens, pottery wheels and sewing machines, as well as the newest technology, including 3D-modeling software and printers and laser cutters. By utilizing rapid fabrication equipment and recyclables, visitors have the freedom to experiment, fail and try again. While the high-tech tools in the MakerSPACE are accessible, they are not essential for creating innovative designs and engaging works of art.

The artifacts in the science collections and the works of art in the Museum’s historic and cultural collections provide a unique environment and serve as inspiration for today’s makers. We invite visitors to explore and understand how things were traditionally made—and challenge them to find new ways to transform materials.

Museum educators facilitate the experience and guide makers through the creative process, leaving ample room for experimentation, concrete experiences, critical reflection and refinement of concepts and techniques. This maker-led process helps visitors connect more deeply with the Museum’s collections and cultivates critical observational skills, which will, hopefully, enable them to view the objects in the galleries with a greater understanding of the tools and techniques used, as well as the historical, political and social contexts in which the works were made.

Ryan Reedell, MakerSPACE Manager and producer of the Greater Newark Mini Maker Faire, held annually at the Museum. He is also a maker.

September 9, 2016 at 1:02 pm Leave a comment

On View ~ Newark Stories: Four Newarkers Who Made a Difference

As part of the City of Newark’s year-long celebration of the 350th anniversary of its founding, the Newark Museum, one of the oldest cultural anchors in the city, showcases four Newarkers who were key benefactors of this institution in a special exhibition. Each of these individuals brought to the Museum different interests and perspectives; and their collections—as well as their ideas—helped shape the Museum in the first half of the 20th century.


Xhosa artist, South Africa. Necklace, 1930s, Glass beads, agapanthus root, button. Gift of Lida Clanton Broner, 1947 47.94

Lida Clanton Broner was an African-American resident of Newark, who traveled to South Africa in 1938 with savings from a lifetime of work as a hair stylist and housekeeper. The trip was motivated by not only a sense of ancestral heritage but also by Broner’s involvement in the Council on African Affairs, an important anti colonialist organization based in New York City and led by Paul Robeson and W. E. B. Du Bois. During her nine months of travel, she circulated among South Africa’s black intellectual elite and lectured at schools and universities. She also assembled a collection of more than 100 works of pottery, beadwork, mission school crafts and other personal items, carefully noting where she acquired each object and who the makers were. In 1943 the Museum displayed her collection in what was possibly the first exhibition of South African art in an American museum. Broner subsequently donated much of her collection to the Newark Museum, a gift that has been augmented by her diary, photo albums and other mementos recently bequeathed by her grandsons.

Lida Clanton Broner’s story is remarkable and in many ways unprecedented, providing a unique window into black South Africa in the years leading up to apartheid and its connections to African- American political and social concerns of the time.

25.1163 (2)

John Sloan. Picture Shop Window, 1907. Oil on canvas, 32 x 25 Gift of Mrs. Felix Fuld, 1925. 25.1163

Caroline Bamberger Fuld was the sister of Louis Bamberger, and a co-founder of Newark’s L. Bamberger & Company, one of America’s most famous department stores. She was also the wife of Louis Meyer Frank, and later Felix Fuld, both partners in the hugely successful store. Mrs. Fuld served on the Newark Museum’s Board of Trustees from 1929 until her death in 1944. She was an important supporter of Jewish charities as well as a fervent patron of the Museum, her numerous gifts supporting the young institution’s desire to acquire the work of living American artists with numerous gifts. In 1924, anticipating the completion of the Museum’s new building (funded by her brother), Fuld donated $10,000 for the purchase of works by living American artists. After her husband’s death in 1929, She established a memorial endowment that has funded the acquisition of hundreds of works.

Caroline Bamberger Fuld’s support of the Museum’s modern art acquisitions followed the Museum’s founding commitment to the “art of today,” supporting living American artists at a time when most museums in the United States were focused on acquiring European Old Master paintings.

49.482 View 1

Meiping Vase with Five Horses and Willow Tree, China, Kangxi period (1661–1722). Porcelain, underglaze cobalt blue and copper-red, 18 ½ x 9 in. Gift of Mary Vanderpool Pennington, 1949. Howard W. Hayes Collection. 49.482

A dynamic Yale-educated attorney, Howard W. Hayes was a celebrated litigator, Newark judge and New Jersey Assistant District Attorney in the late 19th century. But it was as a patent lawyer that he attained an international reputation, becoming the personal counsel for Thomas Alva Edison’s massive manufacturing enterprises. Maintaining offices in
both New York and London, Hayes built an international reputation as a patent lawyer and was celebrated for his ability to navigate the complex legal issues surrounding technology patents during the industrial expansion of the Gilded Age. Hayes was a passionate art collector and had a particular love of Asian works in porcelain and bronze. For a collector like Hayes, Chinese porcelains and bronzes were as much works of art as paintings and sculptures. By the time of his untimely death at the age of 45 in 1903, Hayes had amassed a fine collection, which was given to the City of Newark. Because Hayes died before the Newark Museum was founded, his collection was for many years on deposit at the New Jersey Historical Society in Newark. By the 1940s it was clear that the collection didn’t fit the society’s mission, and the city, in collaboration with Hayes’ widow, Mary Vanderpoel Hayes Pennington, ultimately decided that the collection should be transferred to the Newark Museum, where it became a gift in 1949.

The gift of the Howard W. Hayes Collection amplified the important holdings of Asian art that began with the Museum’s founding in 1909, adding individual masterworks as fine as any in the country.


Eliza Godfrey, London, Basket, 1743. Silver. Gift of W. Clark Symington, 1959. 59.106

W. Clark Symington was a Newark industrialist and a longtime trustee of the Newark Museum during the 1940s and 1950s. A graduate of Yale, with business interests in New England as well as in Newark, Symington traveled extensively and collected objects specifically for the Newark Museum’s growing decorative arts collection. One of his passions was English silver. Unlike other American collectors of his generation, Symington was not interested in noble provenance. Influenced by the Newark Museum’s focus on art in the design and production of everyday objects, Symington paid particular attention to the way silver objects were made, how they expressed the artistic skill of their makers and how they were used in a domestic setting.

Symington’s gifts were displayed in the Museum’s 1953 exhibition An Introduction to Silver, which was organized by Decorative Arts Curator Margaret White as the first in a series of projects known as “dictionary exhibitions.” They were intended to explain the design, making and use of a wide array of household objects for the general public. After his death, Symington’s widow created an acquisition fund in her husband’s memory, which has made possible the purchase of many important additions to the collection over the past 50 years.

As the City of Newark celebrates this important historic milestone, all Newarkers—indeed all New Jerseyans—can be proud of the Museum’s vast collections showcasing artistic endeavors from every part of the globe. Thanks to people like these four Newarkers, the Museum now has one of the largest art collections among American’s museums and is internationally known for the treasures in its care. Every one of us continues to benefit from the generosity of hundreds of individuals over the course of the Museum’s 107-year history.

This article originally appeared in Dana magazine, an exclusive benefit for Museum members. For additional information or to become a member, visit

August 29, 2016 at 11:03 am Leave a comment

Curator’s Musings ~ Modern Heroics: 75 Years of African-American Expressionism at the Newark Museum

Building on the Museum’s historic role as a leader in collecting and exhibiting art by African-American artists, Modern Heroics: 75 Years of African-American Expressionism at the Newark Museum features 34 works of painting and sculpture by leading modern and contemporary artists. Using the permanent collection to trace a period of time—from the 1940s to the present—the exhibition is comprised almost entirely of selections from the Museum’s permanent collection of American Art. Some highlights of Modern Heroics include large-scale paintings by Norman Lewis, Purvis Young, Emma Amos, Bob Thompson and Mickalene Thomas, among others; and sculptural works by Chakaia Booker, Thornton Dial, Kenseth Armstead and Kevin Sampson.


Beauford Delaney, The Burning Bush, 1941. Oil on paperboard, 20 ¾ x 24 ¾ in. Purchase by exchange, 1988. Gift of Emilie Coles from the J. Ackerman Coles Collection, Mrs. Lewis Ballantyne and the Bequest of Louis Bamberger 88.225 © Estate of Beauford Delaney, courtesy of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire, Court-Appointed Administrator.

The Newark Museum is known for its very early and sustained support of African-American art and folk and self-taught art; Modern Heroics draws from both of these notable collections. Mythical and universal subject matter, the bold use of color, expressive brushwork and a direct engagement with materials are some of the themes that Modern Heroics explores. Approximately half of the works on display—several of which are exhibited for the first time—have been created by self-taught artists. Combining works from the permanent collection with those by living artists who may not be represented at the Museum allows us to bring new perspectives to the permanent collection. This process of exhibiting and collecting in tandem has allowed the Newark Museum to grow from a collection of a single work by an African- American artist in 1929—Ossawa Tanner’s The Good Shepherd, (1922)—to a collection that today numbers more than 360 objects.

In 1931 Newark hosted an exhibition dedicated to African-American art for the first time —a group exhibition organized by the Harmon Foundation, one of the earliest supporters of African-American art. From 1944 onward, the Museum has organized numerous original group shows of African-American art, an exhibition program that serves to showcase Newark’s rich holdings and to bring new artists into the growing collection. Modern Heroics traces a lineage of expressionist strategies from Beauford Delaney’s small, vigorously painted The Burning Bush (1941) to Mickalene Thomas’s monumental collage painting Landscape with Camouflage (2012). Delaney’s work refers to the Old Testament passage in which God appears to Moses as a burning bush. The artist conveys the divinity and the drama of the story by depicting the sky, the bush and the surrounding landscape united in a surging, multilayered abstract form. Similarly, a number of other paintings in the exhibition combine conceptual and narrative approaches, relying on expressive distortions of the human form to set a mood. For instance, in Purvis Young’s description of the street life of his Miami neighborhood, the artist conveys emotion through the expressive gestures of his abstracted figures.

Norman Lewis

Norman Lewis, Carnival, 1957. Oil on canvas, 39 x 58 ¼ in. Bequest of Irene Wheeler, 2004 2004.38.1 © Estate of Norman W. Lewis; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY.

Many of the other artists represented in Modern Heroics have strong connections with Newark and with the Museum. In fact, several were either born in Newark or live and work here, including Chakaia Booker, Dmitri Wright, Kevin Sampson, Gladys Grauer and Shoshanna Weinburger. Beauford Delaney—whose 1943 gift of the drawing Portrait of a Man helped to build the collection—and Norman Lewis are two of the older generation of artists who have historical connections to the Newark Museum. In 1944 and 1971, Lewis lent several of his paintings for exhibitions at the Museum. In 2004 a group of works by Lewis entered the Museum’s permanent collection through the bequest of Irene Wheeler, two of which are on view in Modern Heroics, including the large-scale oil painting Carnival (1957).

—Tricia Laughlin Bloom, Ph.D., Curator of American Art
This article originally appeared in Dana magazine, an exclusive benefit for Museum members. For additional information or to become a member, visit


Mickalene Thomas, Landscape with Camouflage, 2012. Rhinestones, acrylic, oil and enamel on wood panel, 108 x 144 in. Purchase 2012 Helen McMahon Brady Cutting Fund 2012.22 © Mickalene Thomas and the Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Saturday, October 15, 2016, (9:30 am–3 pm)
Modern Heroics: Revisiting African-American Art at the Newark Museum

This one-day symposium will bring together scholars of African- American art and artists from the exhibition. Speakers will include Lowery Stokes Sims, Curator Emerita, Museum of Arts and Design, and Leslie King-Hammond, Graduate Dean Emeritus and Founding Director of the Center for Race and Culture at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Hrag Varntanian, Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic will moderate a panel discussion featuring artists from the exhibition. For more information, visit


August 15, 2016 at 8:55 am Leave a comment

Curator’s Choice : Prayer Cloths

The decoration on these two spectacular prayer cloths is made with a combination of hand-painted and print-block dye methods, popularly called qalamkari (from the Arabic meaning “pen-drawn”). Although they closely resemble each other, they were made over a thousand miles apart—one in Qajar ruled Iran the other in Mughal ruled India. There are both obvious and subtle differences between them. The most obvious is that the central gateway is empty in the Indian example but filled with flowers in the Qajar example. More subtle differences range from the style of the hand-drawing to the different color palates. Together they demonstrate impressive continuities across vast distances with charming distinctions that cement them in a specific time and place.

One reason they are so similar is because of their intended function. The gateway at their centers is also an architectural feature called a mihrab in Arabic. A mihrab is a prayer niche placed within mosques to indicate qibla, the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca, the center towards which Muslims turn to pray. The top crenellations adorn a formal entry gate to the gardens of paradise, reinforced by the floral patterns (cypress trees and carnations) around the edges and in the center field. Prayer cloths like these may be used as prayer rugs (upon which the devout pray) or wall hangings (to mark qibla in a home) or even to decorate a physical niche in a mosque.

The Newark Museum is fortunate to hold in its’ collections two Indian and three Iranian examples of this beautiful textile art, one from each region will be featured in the special exhibition Wondrous Worlds: Art & Islam through Time & Place opening February 12, 2016.

– Katherine Anne Paul, Curator, Arts of Asia, Newark Museum

Prayer Cloth with Mihrab, Gate and Floral Motifs 
India, Mughal Period (1526—1857)
Hand-painted and block printed cotton
Newark Museum Gift of Dr. Louis C. West, 1967  67.415
Prayer Cloth with Mihrab, Gate and Floral Motifs 
Iran, Qajar Period (1789—1925)
Hand-painted and block printed cotton
Newark Museum Gift of Dr. Louis C. West, 1967  67.417

February 9, 2016 at 3:07 pm Leave a comment

Always Something New Out of Africa

Zak Ove image

There’s a lot happening behind the scenes as we plan for our 2017 reinstallation of the arts of Global Africa collection in the Museum’s flagship gallery on the first floor. But in the meantime, there are new works to see in the current galleries on the second floor, including recent acquisitions.

The most dramatic addition is a new gallery dedicated to video art, featuring A Land So Far (2010) by artist Zak Ové, which was acquired by the Museum last year. Based on contemporary celebrations of Carnival in Trinidad, Ové combines footage in mirrored frames to create a kaleidoscopic landscape of intertwining masqueraders. The video begins with daytime parades of masked characters dancing through the streets of the city of Port of Spain, accompanied by the sounds of drumming. It then shifts to the nighttime performances in the hills of Paramin where battling “blue devils” – performers with bodies covered in indigo blue dye – spout streams from lit cans of aerosol, ending with an explosion of flames in the sky.

More new acquisitions are on view in Present Tense, our gallery devoted to the Museum’s collection of contemporary arts of global Africa. The tight rectangular geometry of Serge Nitegeka’s abstract painting Fragile Cargo XV, Studio Study V (2015) captures the shapes and sharp lines of shipping crates, seemingly commonplace objects used in human trafficking, economics, and movement. They are a metaphor for physical and psychological displacement, which he himself experienced when his family fled from their home in Burundi to Rwanda due to a civil war and then migrated again because of genocide.  Personal history is also mined in a group of photographs by Amalia Ramanankirahina from her 2013 series Portraits de Famille (Family Portraits). These haunting images digitally manipulate family photographs from colonial-era Madagascar, shrouding their faces in a symbolic gesture to traditional Malagasy cultural practices. These works are joined by earlier acquisitions of paintings, including Wosene Worke Kosrof’s Berkeley III (2003) and Sokey Edorh’s Les Gendarmes d’Afrique (1996-2006).

Featured elsewhere in the gallery are recent gifts to the collection. A factory print textile collected in Monrovia, Liberia circa 1969 celebrates the impact of “swinging sixties” fashion on the continent. This work is part of a larger donation of 25 factory print textiles, an important addition to our internationally known collection of African textiles. It complements one of the first textiles collected by the museum, an exceptional example of weaving by a Dyula artist from Côte d’Ivoire acquired by Newark Museum founder John Cotton Dana in 1928, now on view as well. At the entrance to the galleries, you’ll also see another gift to the collection: a group of puppets representing the diversity of characters in Sogo bò, a puppet tradition performed in south-central Mali. Sogo bò – translated as “the animals come forth” – is inspired by the everyday world and examines the human condition, often in a humorous way, through performances organized and performed by young men in youth associations.

These changes in the galleries represent the work of the entire department, which includes Curatorial Fellow Kimberli Gant and Research Associate Roger Arnold.

Christa Clarke, Ph.D., Senior Curator, Arts of Global Africa


January 14, 2016 at 2:20 pm Leave a comment

Recent Acquisition: Untitled, 1953 by Norman Lewis

Norman Lewis Untitled 1953

Norman Lewis, Untitled, 1953. Oil and gold metallic paint on linen, 49 ½ x 71 in. Collection of the Newark Museum. ©Estate of Norman W. Lewis, Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

The Newark Museum’s collection of African-American art is one of the most distinguished in the country, with works by a diverse range of  artists dating from the early 19th through the 21st century. An exciting new acquisition by Norman Lewis (1900-1979) brings another important African-American artist—and a major painting by an Abstract Expressionist — into the Museum’s collections.  The Newark Museum recently acquired Untitled, 1953 from Michael Rosenfeld Gallery in New York. Untitled, 1953 measures approximately 4 x 7 feet; the medium is oil and gold metallic paint on linen. This painting is remarkable both for its scale and for its bold abstract composition, featuring Lewis’s calligraphic brushwork in a series of sweeping vertical forms. Untitled, 1953 was previously in the collection of the Norman Lewis Estate and is now on view for the first time ever in the exhibition Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

Norman Lewis is central to both the development of modern abstract art and to African-American art. Born and raised in Harlem, his life and work form a bridge between the art of the Harlem Renaissance, the Abstract Expressionists and activist art of the 1960s. Lewis also has a strong history of being shown at the Newark Museum, having participated in the exhibitions American Negro Art in 1944 and Black Artists: Two Generations in 1971, all works lent by the artist. Untitled, 1953 is not the first work by Lewis to enter Newark’s permanent collection. In 2004 the Museum received a gift of a painting and several works on paper by Lewis as part of the Bequest of Irene Wheeler — all in need of conservation which has kept them hidden in storage. Conservation treatment is currently planned for the painting Carnival, 1957 and an untitled drawing by Lewis (both part of the Wheeler bequest), and both will be included in an upcoming special exhibition in 2016.

Tricia Laughlin Bloom, Curator of American Art

November 20, 2015 at 9:33 am Leave a comment

Happy Birthday, Mr. Dana!

Portrait of John Cotton Dana by Ercole Cartotto, pencil drawing on paper, 28 ¼ “ x 21 7/8 “, Collection of the Newark Museum, Purchase 1935 Thomas L. Raymond Bequest Fund, 35.205.

Portrait of John Cotton Dana by Ercole Cartotto, pencil drawing on paper, 28 ¼ “ x 21 7/8 “, Collection of the Newark Museum, Purchase 1935 Thomas L. Raymond Bequest Fund, 35.205.

The founding director of the Newark Museum, John Cotton Dana, was born on this date, August 19, in 1856 in Woodstock, Vermont. Educated at Dartmouth College, he moved out west in 1880 and became a miner, a surveyor, a rancher, a lawyer, a journalist, a Unitarian minister (at least for one month), and eventually, at the age of 33, the librarian at the Denver Public Library. About his youth, he once wrote: “As I look back on the ten years that followed graduation…, [I see myself as] a mere child. Only a child could be as irrationally ambitious, as credulous, and as uncomprehending of daily life as I was then… Perhaps nearly all boys have a juvenile period like mine as they approach manhood…”

As a librarian, Dana found his vocation at a thinker, a cultural critic, and an educator, and he devoted the rest of his life to this profession. In his opinion, a good library “supplies the public with recreational reading…; [it provides] books on every profession, art, or handicraft…; [it] helps in social and political education – in training citizens…; [it promotes] culture… [which he defined as] the diffusion of good reading among people in giving tone and character to their intellectual life; [it] is the ever-ready helper of the school-teacher; [and it] aids the work of reading circles and other home-culture organizations…”

Later, following a series of exhibitions in the fine arts, the decorative arts, and the natural sciences at the Newark Public Library, where he was the director from 1902 to 1929, Dana founded the Newark Museum in 1909 as a complement to this educational mission. “A good museum attracts, entertains, arouses curiosity, leads to questionings, – and thus promotes learning.” “The Newark Museum of the future,” he declared, “will make and use collections useful to our manufacturers, housewives, students, importers, and dealers…” Furthermore, “Tomorrow, objects of art will be bought 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…”

The George T. Rockwell Collection of Japanese Art Objects, the founding collection for the Newark Museum, 1908. Collection of the Newark Museum Archives.

The George T. Rockwell Collection of Japanese Art Objects, the founding collection for the Newark Museum, 1908. Collection of the Newark Museum Archives.

Under his tenure, the Newark Museum acquired the George T. Rockwell Collection of Japanese Art Objects (1909); the Edward N. Crane Memorial Collection of Tibetan Art Objects, a group of objects assembled by Dr. Albert L. Shelton (1911); Dr. William S. Disbrow’s natural science specimens (1922); and several paintings and sculptures by living American artists purchased by Mrs. Felix Fuld for the opening of the new museum building (1926). Among the remarkable exhibitions that Dana organized were: Modern German Applied Arts (1912), the first industrial arts exhibition in the United States, an exhibition that traveled to five other cities; two exhibition featuring the work of Childe Hassam (1911) and Max Weber (1913), the first solo exhibitions devoted to contemporary American artists; New Jersey Clay Products (1915), New Jersey Textiles (1916), and Nothing Takes the Place of Leather (1926), three exhibitions highlighting the work of local industries; China: The Land and the People (1923) and Primitive African Art (1928), two exhibitions that expanded the geographic scope of the Museum; and Inexpensive Articles of Good Design (1928 and 1929), about which Dana famously declared, “Beauty has no relation to price, rarity, or age.”

We are proud of the solid foundation that John Cotton Dana firmly established all of those years ago, and we continue to strive to be “a leader in connecting objects and ideas to the needs and wishes of its constituencies” in order “to educate, inspire, and transform individuals of all ages.”

– William A. Peniston, Ph.D.. Librarian

Mr. Dana posing for a portrait bust by the sculptress Gerta Rica, 1928. Collection of the Newark Museum Archives.

Mr. Dana posing for a portrait bust by the sculptress Gerta Rica, 1928. Collection of the Newark Museum Archives.

August 17, 2015 at 10:16 am Leave a comment

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