Posts tagged ‘Newark Museum’

Life, Love, Death: The Ballantines at Home in Newark


To help mark the City of Newark’s 350th anniversary, the Newark Museum has launched a new story line into the “House & Home” installation of the Museum’s 1885 National Historic Landmark Ballantine House.

Life, Love, Death: The Ballantines offers, by means of interactive touch screens, a closer look at four aspects of the Ballantine house and its family. The Ballantines were in many ways very much like other wealthy families of America’s Gilded Age (1865–1915), and they experienced their own joys and sorrows as any family does.

In a city like Newark, the source of the wealth that built a house is always important. With the Ballantine House, the source was beer. From the time Peter Ballantine moved his young family to Newark in 1840 to the time his sons built their own houses on Washington Park, beer brewing had become a powerful force in American industry. Millions of factory workers across the nation—many of them German and Irish—drank beer as much for its nourishment as for its alcohol. The Ballantines, with access to plenty of fresh water and an immigrant labor force, became the most powerful brewers in Newark. A touch screen in the Dining Room looks at the beer industry in Newark.

ballantine-picnicThe house that Peter’s son, John, and John’s wife, Jeannette, built was the setting in which their children matured. In 1899 their daughter, Alice, was married in the house to a young Newark lawyer named Henry Young. A touch screen in the Reception Room explores Alice’s wedding and the social setting in which her marriage took place.

But not every story in the Ballantine House was happy. The two restored bedrooms upstairs tells a different kind of tale. Both John and Jeannette died in this house; John in 1895 and Jeannette in 1919. During this era, 82 percent of Americans died at home. Doctors visited the sick in their homes—especially if they were wealthy—and often the body was prepared for burial there. A touch screen in the Master Bedroom looks at death in America in more detail.

The one great tragedy in this house was the suicide of the Ballantines’ second son, Robert, in 1905. News of his death was reported in newspapers all over the United States, but the real reason behind it was never made public. A touch screen placed in Alice’s bedroom discusses Robert’s death and looks at the possibilities of what drove him to take his own life at the age of 35.

Ulysses Grant Dietz, Chief Curator and Curator of Decorative Arts

January 31, 2017 at 2:54 pm Leave a comment

The Newark Memorial Building

One hundred years ago, as the City of Newark concluded its 250th anniversary, it held an architectural contest for a “Newark Memorial Building” to house a public auditorium; meeting rooms for civic organizations; gallery space for its museum of art, science and industry; an art school; and a public university. The director of the museum at the time, John Cotton Dana, even called for “a roof garden” with “a restaurant with modest prices” as well as “public baths” in the basement. The Newark Evening News proposal a grand Italianate palace akin to the Free Public Library to which it would be joined by a bridge; it was to be built on the site at the corner of Washington Street, Broad Street and Orange Avenue (where the Rutgers Business School is currently located).


The City Planning Commission had different ideas. It purchased land on Broad Street between Camp Street and Pennington Street near Lincoln Park, and it invited well-known architects, like McKim, Mead & White; Cass Gilbert; John Russell Pope; and others to submit drawings and plans. McKim, Mead & White won the competition.


Soon thereafter, though, controversy erupted over the means by which the city acquired the site. It was suspected that some of the commissioners profited by the sale of the land. More importantly, however, Dana did not like the location, the size, the style or the purposes of the proposed building; it did not meet his definition of a “new museum.” Finally, the First World War intervened, and the project died quietly.

A new museum building had to wait until 1923 when Louis Bamberger, the department store magnate, agreed to construct a building on the former estate of Governor Marcus L. Ward. It was Bamberger who hired the architect, Jarvis Hunt from Chicago; appointed his facilities manager, Abraham Schindel, to oversee the project; paid the bills; and presented the building to the City for the use of the Newark Museum Association. The doors opened in March 1926.



Through the generosity of the Estate of Ellen Keely Hunniken – a fund established for the purchase of materials relating to Essex County – the Newark Museum’s Library and Archives acquired this year the 16 plates and the 3 pages of text descripting the competition for “the Newark Memorial Building” that were published in The American Architect in October 1916. This is a fitting acquisition for the celebration of Newark’s 350th anniversary.

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

January 4, 2017 at 10:44 am Leave a comment

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

Fresh Takes by Steven – “Our Generation Fit”

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 Logo

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.

            GenFit - Kinect & Workout Video

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.

GenFit - Phrase

– Steven – Marketing Intern

July 19, 2013 at 11:01 am 1 comment

Fresh Takes by Steven – “A Traditional Tale”

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.

Behind Quiet Veils of the Blue Willow Red Weldon Sandlin, United States. Painted white earthenware, on a faux-painted wooden book, 2000. H: 26 in, W: 12 1/2 in, D: 10 1/2 in

Behind Quiet Veils of the Blue Willow
Red Weldon Sandlin, United States.
Painted white earthenware, on a faux-painted wooden book, 2000.
H: 26 in, W: 12 1/2 in, D: 10 1/2 in

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

July 11, 2013 at 1:55 pm 2 comments

Museum Musings by Amanda–“Exotic” Faraway Fantasy: Exploring the Teapot Collection

Hello readers of the Newark Museum blog! I’m Amanda, a summer intern at the museum. I’ll be posting here sometimes about my adventures around the galleries and all the fun stuff going on here over the next few months. I encourage you to respond to the polls that I will be posting along with my blogs–we love hearing what you have to say and your feedback helps us improve our game!

I felt a bit underdressed walking through the Teapot Collection today! Surrounded by the dozens of teapots of different shapes, sizes and colors made me feel as if I needed to be wearing a more suitable dress to wear to an afternoon tea. The almost-tangible pink taffeta dress that John Singleton Copley painted in Portrait of Mrs. Joseph Scott (hanging in the Early American Portrait Gallery) would be perfect, if only it were real. But perhaps the Ballantine ladies’ closets could be available for some scavenging and borrowing. Please, curator Ulysses?

Portrait of Mrs. Joseph Scott, by John Singleton Copley. 1765.

Portrait of Mrs. Joseph Scott, by John Singleton Copley. 1765.

The Trumpeter teapot (China, for the Dutch market; Porcelain, enamel, 1750-60) caught my attention because of the depicted musician’s bright yellow garb, his deeply expressive face, and by the fact that the musician is actively playing the instrument, not merely holding it. A teapot is often associated with inaction and relaxation, women and domesticity, and purity and natural beauty. This “exotic” teapot, in contrast, is actually the complete antithesis of these preconceived notions. By capturing the essence of what the consumer is not, this teapot might serve one of two purposes: it could be the mode for a fantastical escape from domesticity or a subtle affirmation of one’s superiority over the “exotic” other. The design itself resists the classic context of the teapot, namely of a party of parlor ladies gossiping about their dramatic domestic lives, by depicting a man as the main figure on the art, who is captured during his action of playing music, on a black background. Therefore this “exotic” teapot, could invoke either feelings of resentment at the strictures of a genteel life or feelings of amusement over the oddities of the unfamiliar depending on the consumer’s level of contentment and satisfaction with the domestic lifestyle.

Teapot from one of the "Trumpeter" services China, for the Dutch market,  1750-1760 Porcelain,  5 1/2 x 7 3/8 x 4 1/4 in. Gift of Herman A. E. Jaehne and Paul C. Jaehne, 1941   41.1999

Teapot from one of the “Trumpeter” services
China, for the Dutch market, 1750-1760
Porcelain, 5 1/2 x 7 3/8 x 4 1/4 in.
Gift of Herman A. E. Jaehne and Paul C. Jaehne, 1941 41.1999

Teapot from one of the "Trumpeter" services China, for the Dutch market,  1750-1760 Porcelain,  5 1/2 x 7 3/8 x 4 1/4 in. Gift of Herman A. E. Jaehne and Paul C. Jaehne, 1941   41.1999

Teapot from one of the “Trumpeter” services
China, for the Dutch market, 1750-1760
Porcelain, 5 1/2 x 7 3/8 x 4 1/4 in.
Gift of Herman A. E. Jaehne and Paul C. Jaehne, 1941 41.1999

The wonderful thing about any museum is its unique capability to act as a time machine (without a flux-capacitor, nonetheless!) and transport the visitor to different time periods and cultures. Simply by looking at the porcelain Trumpeter teapot I felt as if I were a Dutch lady indulging in an “exotic” fantasy of a faraway land filled with young, handsome musicians. I highly encourage everyone to come explore the Newark Museum’s wonderful and rich collection of Decorative Arts to indulge in their own fantasies. But remember…dress to impress!

June 25, 2013 at 2:32 pm Leave a comment

Books to Read in Celebration of Newark Museum’s Tibet Collection Centennial

Many years ago, John MacGregor wrote an excellent book on Westerners in Tibet. Entitled Tibet: A Chronicle of Exploration, it situates the various missionaries, trade representatives, military officers, and others in their very complicated religious, ethnic, social, economic, and political contexts. He begins with the Franciscans and the Jesuits of the 17th and 18th centuries, who fought one another for the honor of converting the Tibetans, but to no avail. The British in India in the late 18th century were intent upon opening up the Himalayas to trade, but they, too, were unsuccessful due to their misunderstanding of the relationships between the Tibetans, Nepalese, Mongolians, and Chinese.

Later, in the 19th century, they used military force to achieve their goals in the famous Younghusband Expedition of 1903. This expedition was conducted largely in response to the intrigues of the Russians and their Mongolian allies. Also in this century, the eccentric orientalist Thomas Manning and the charming priest Evariste-Regis Huc recorded their impressionistic observations of the Tibetans. In this book, MacGregor writes eloquently about all of these characters, and he does so with sophistication and understanding.

Another book  to read:
Martin Brauen from the University of Zurich has assembled a remarkable team of contributors to examine the visual history of the Dalai Lamas. Each Dalai Lama is described in detail, usually with a full chapter devoted to his live and thought by a leading scholar. Additional essays cover the tradition of Tibetan reincarnation, the iconography of the Dalai Lamas, their protective deities, and the relationship between the Panchen Lamas and the Dalai Lamas. It is introduced by an interview between the editor and the 14th Dalai Lama. Profusely illustrated, it is a stunning book entitled The Dalai Lamas: A Visual History published in 2005.

To learn more about the Tibet Collection Centennial, visit
William Peniston, Ph.D. is the Librarian at the Newark Museum.

May 24, 2011 at 5:32 pm Leave a comment

The Making of a Sand Mandala

Avalokiteshvara, or Chenrezig as he is known in Tibetan, is the Buddhist deity who personifies the ideal of compassion. He can be portrayed in several different forms, two of the most popular being as a white deity with either four arms or 1000 arms; the extra arms symbolize his ability to help many beings simultaneously.

The Mandala can be described as being the residence of the respective deities and their retinues. The sand Mandala of Avalokiteshvara was originated from the tantric teachings of Lord Buddha Shakyamuni. Although depicted on a flat surface, the Mandala is actually three-dimensional, being a “divine mansion” at the center of which resides Avalokiteshvara, surrounded by the deities of his entourage.

 Every aspect of the Mandala has meaning: nothing is arbitrary or superfluous. The four outer walls of the mansion are in five transparent layers, colored as white, yellow, red, green, and blue, representing faith, effort, memory, meditation, and wisdom (these five colors also represent the five dankinis).

The four doorways, one in the center of each of the four walls, represent the Four Immeasurable Thoughts: love, compassion, joy, and equanimity and there are decorated with precious jewels. The lotus flower in the center of the Mandala represent the lotus family, one of the Buddha families that correspond to the five psychophysical components of a human being, and which purify specific impure states of mind; the Lotus family purifies passion into discriminating awareness. The white thousand arms, thousand-eyed Avalokiteshvara is standing in the center of the lotus flower, on a white moon disk.

 In the four directions are seated his retinue seated on white full moon disks. The deities arise from the unity of; the wisdom of emptiness and great bliss of the principle deity Avalokiteshvara. Seated on the eastern red petal is the purified aspect of Hatred in the form of a blue deity Akshobhya, on the southern yellow petal is the purified aspect of Misery in the form of a yellow deity Ratnasambhava and likewise, the purified part of Ignorance & Jealousy are represented by the white deity Vairochana at the western and the green deity Amogasiddhi at the northern petal respectively. The central deity Avaloketishvara represents the freedom from attachment.

The four colors in the four directions are the emanated light rays of the four deity retinues. The lotus itself symbolizes the mind of renunciation. To protect the residence from negative conditions, it is surrounded by a Vajra fence, which also symbolizes the continuous teaching of the Vajrayana (Tantric Teaching) by lord Avalokiteshvara. In the outermost part, it is circled with burning flames that radiate with intense light and are not only for protection but also to burn away or to get red of delusion and the darknesses of the ignorance.

In general, the Mandala shows a method of bringing peace and harmony in our world, through genuine practices of the mind of Great Compassion, the Wisdom of Emptiness, and the meditations of Mandala with their respective deities. We can generate the respective qualities as mentioned and thereby bring about a positive change in this world of ours.

For a practitioner who meditateson the Tantra of Avalokiteshvara, one would familiarize oneself with every detail of the Mandala and the deities within it, engaging in repeated exercises based upon visualizing the pure beings and pure environment which symbolized one’s own being and environment in purified, sublime form. Such exercises, carried out within the basic Buddhist framework of developing wisdom and compassion, bring about a profound transformation of the psyche. Just to glimpse the Mandala, however, will create a positive impression on the mind-stream of the observer, who for a moment is in touch with the profound potential for perfect Enlightenment, which exists within the mind of all beings.

 At the end of ritual ceremony, the Mandala will be systematically dismantled and the sand powder of the Mandala will be poured into a river or a sea to remind the impermanence of the world. In fact, it serves to enrich the soil and the mineral resources and to eliminate the untimely death, diseases, famine etc.

 In conclusion, we dedicate the merits generate in the preparation of this Mandala together with its rituals for the world peace and true happiness of all the sentient beings. May peace prevail on the Earth!!

The information about the sand mandala is provided by the monks of Drepung Gomang Monastery.

The Drepung Gomang monks will be at the Newark Museum creating this sand mandala until Thursday, May 12, 12 pm to 4 pm.  The procession and dispersal of the sand into the Passaic River will be on Sunday, May 15 at 3 pm. To learn more about the Newark Museum Tibet Collection Centennial visit,

May 10, 2011 at 6:35 pm 1 comment

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