While ﬂoor plans, miniature models, and computer renderings are helpful visualization tools for planning a space that is still under construction, there’s nothing better than working with the objects themselves. For the Harvard Art Museums’ Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art, a group whose collection is largely comprised of three-dimensional objects, display case mock-ups have been a key tool in their installation planning. Full story
“The saying used to be: take it easy, you’re not building a museum. But this time we are.” That was the way Pete Caratelli put it when I asked him what was diﬀerent about the Harvard Art Museums building project. Caratelli, an electrician, manages the team responsible for installing all of the lights and audiovisual systems in the new facility. Full story
Not too long ago, Jeﬀ Steward set out to answer a question: How can data be visually rendered to reveal diﬀerent types of collections activity over time? Solving complexities like this one—or, as Jeﬀ describes it, “doing good things with interesting data”—is all in a day’s work when you head our Department of Digital Infrastructure and Emerging Technology. Full story
Before Maurice Wertheim (1886–1950) started collecting art, he had already established a successful investment ﬁrm, bought the ﬂailing magazine The Nation, founded the New York Theatre Guild, and pursued his love of chess.
When, at the age of 50, Wertheim turned his eye toward art, it is no surprise then that he approached it with as much zeal as he had his other interests. Fourteen years after his ﬁrst purchase—Picasso’s The Blind Man (1903)—Wertheim had amassed a stunning collection of impressionist and postimpressionist paintings, drawings, and sculpture. Among them were works by Cézanne, Degas, Matisse, Monet, Renoir, Seurat, and van Gogh. Full story
Louise Nevelson’s steel sculpture, Night Wall I (1972), had stood outside Harvard’s Pound Hall for 25 years, and it showed. Last year, Harvard Art Museums conservators decided it was time to repair the damage the outdoor elements had caused, and we are pleased to report that it returned to its home this past February. Full story
How do you curate a space that doesn’t exist yet?
Enlist Boston model maker Architectural Illusions to create three ﬂoors of gallery space in miniature, all to scale. Full story
In honor of the centenary of Joseph Pulitzer Jr.’s birth on May 13, 1913, we asked Marjorie B. Cohn, author of Classic Modern: The Art Worlds of Joseph Pulitzer Jr., to share a highlight of her ﬁndings. Full Story
Art Museum Day is coming up on Saturday, May 18, which means that over a hundred art museums nationwide will open their doors for free, including the Harvard Art Museums. Full story
On April 23, artist Doris Salcedo joined us for the ﬁnal installment of this season’s ArtisTalk series focusing on “Art in Public Space.” Full story
What do you see when you look at a work of art, and how do you get others to look deeply at objects in a museum? What materials are artworks made from and why were they used? Where do you stand when you are presenting a work of art?
Over this past academic year, Harvard College undergraduates have been exploring such questions in a training program for student guides at the Harvard Art Museums. Full story
On a Sunday evening, on May 3, 1953, Dylan Thomas stood in front of a teeming crowd at the Fogg Museum’s Norton Lecture Hall, reading from his unﬁnished play Under Milk Wood. Full story
Last month, over 300 Harvard College students packed into the Arthur M. Sackler Museum to celebrate graduating seniors, in an event organized by the Harvard Art Museums Undergraduate Connection (HAMUC). Full story
The Alaskan Yellow Cedar currently being installed on the Harvard Art Museums’ Prescott Street facade has made quite a journey from western Canada. Full story
Each spring, Arts First transforms Harvard University’s campus into a massive public arts festival, in which thousands of Harvard students participate in music, ﬁlm, dance, theater, and visual arts events. Full story
On April 3, the public ﬁlled the Sackler Museum lecture hall to hear installation artist Ann Hamilton discuss her recent works and performances. Full story
The Sumitomo Foundation in Tokyo recently gave us a second grant toward the restoration of two 15th-century Japanese handscrolls in our collection. Full story
French novelist Marcel Proust (1871–1922) often reﬂected on photography and the new ways it allowed us to see the world. Inspired by his writings, Harvard PhD candidate Akili Tommasino studied photographs from our collections and selected works that he felt resonated with the author’s ideas. Full story
Warmer days and budding blossoms are signaling spring’s arrival and, after months of blizzard after blizzard, we are welcoming it with open arms. Full story
We’re very excited to announce Melissa Moy’s appointment as the Alan J. Dworsky Associate Curator of Chinese Art. Full story
Norma Jean Calderwood, whose collection is showcased in the current exhibition In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, often said that in order to fully appreciate Islamic art one must approach it “with quite diﬀerent eyes.” In a recent gallery talk, visitors were prompted to do just that—to look closely and diﬀerently at objects to uncover themes and details that a casual viewer might overlook. Full story
We recently received a $5 million gift from the German Friends of the Busch-Reisinger Museum (Verein der Freunde des Busch-Reisinger Museum) to support one of three art study centers planned for our new facility. Full story
If you plan to head east on the Massachusetts Turnpike today, the Harvard Art Museums will be part your ride. Full story
We’re really excited about a recent addition to our website: a database of 3,000 photographic objects by photojournalist and combat photographer Gordon Ward Gahan. Full story
Those of you following the blog already know about the progress we’ve made on our renovation and expansion project: the steel and glass roof is complete and the building is weathertight. We are now in new phase of construction, focused on building out the interior.
This shift to the interior of the new facility has gotten us thinking about, well, what will happen inside the museums. Full story
Harvard Art Museums conservator Susan Costello recently completed restoration work on Virgin and Child in Majesty (“Seat of Divine Wisdom”), a French wooden sculpture from the 12th century. Full story
Congratulations to curator Mary McWilliams on the opening of In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art. Opening night festivities included a lecture by Oya Pancaroğlu, Associate Professor in the Department of History at Boğaziçi University in Turkey, on the history and cultural signiﬁcance of ceramic production in eastern Iran. Oya’s presentation, which was received by a packed auditorium, referenced her essay in the exhibition’s catalogue. Full story
Last month, Harvard Art Museums members enjoyed a Harvard Treasures Tour of the Culinary Collection at Radcliﬀe’s Schlesinger Library. Marylène Altieri, Curator of Books and Printed Materials at the library, discussed the origins and breadth of the collection, which focuses on the history of women in America, before taking guests on a guided tour of Siting Julia: A Julia Child Centenary Exhibition. Full story
After completing its run at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bernini: Sculpting in Clay recently traveled down south to the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. The exhibition, which displays 40 terracotta “sketches” and 30 drawings, illuminates the creative process behind the great baroque sculptor’s colossal marble and bronze works. The exhibition was co-curated by Anthony Sigel, Conservator of Objects and Sculpture at the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies at the Harvard Art Museums, and features 16 works from our collection that have never been loaned before. Full story
We can hardly wait for the opening of In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art. This special exhibition features important objects from the Persian cultural sphere, including ceramics, illustrated manuscripts, and lacquerware.
We went behind the scenes to capture the exhibition as it came together. See the exhibition develop from wood framework to colorful display in this time-lapse video. Full story
We’re pleased to report that our publication Instituting Reform: The Social Museum of Harvard University, 1903–1931 was chosen as one of photo-eye’s Best Books of 2012. Magazine contributors, artists, and curators and publishers of photography select the books on the list. Full story
On December 4, internationally acclaimed German artist Katharina Sieverding treated the public to an illustrated talk chronicling her career from the 1960s to the present. Full story
On November 4, guests ﬁlled the Harvard Faculty Club to hear curator and author Marjorie B. Cohn (known to us as Jerry) discuss her recently published biography of Joseph Pulitzer Jr. While Pulitzer is best known as editor and publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, he was also a discerning and passionate collector of art. With access to a wealth of ﬁles (“Joe never threw anything away”) and interviews with close acquaintances, she was able to produce a vivid portrait of the collector. Full story
We’d like to congratulate curator Susan Dackerman on receiving the 2012 Book Award from the International Fine Prints Dealers Association (IFPDA) for her publication, Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe. Presented at the IFPDA Print Fair on November 2, the award recognizes excellence in research, scholarship, and the discussion of new ideas in the ﬁeld of prints. Full story
See the installation of a monumental woodcut by Kerry James Marshall–and gain special appreciation for the hard work of our installers–in this time-lapse video. Full story
On Wednesday, October 3, a group of Harvard freshmen participated in a drawing workshop in the Sackler Museum. Led by Senior Museum Educator Corinne Zimmermann and organized in conjunction with the Freshman Dean’s Oﬃce, the workshop invited students to engage with works of art through drawing and discussion. Full story
This video of concert organist Martin Ellis playing two iconic movie theme songs on the pipe organ at the Sanﬁlippo Museum in Barrington, Illinois, is getting us in the mood for the return of our fall midday organ recital series at Adolphus Busch Hall. Full story
Kathleen Coleman, James Loeb Professor of the Classics, recently took a group of students from her Latin Epigraphy class on a ﬁeld trip to the picnic table behind the Sackler Museum to take part in a demonstration on how to make a “squeeze.” A squeeze is the process of using layers of wet paper to capture a negative impression of a carved inscription. Unlike a photograph, a squeeze can replicate the depth of carved letters, revealing details that may be diﬃcult to see on a ﬂat surface. Full Story
Mark your calendars: Saturday, September 29, 2012 is Smithsonian magazine’s eighth annual Museum Day Live! Full story
On November 12, 2008, commuters in several cities around the United States were greeted with the shocking headline “IRAQ WAR ENDS” on the front page of the New York Times…or so it seemed. Full story
In May 2013, our neighbors at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts will celebrate the big 5-0 for their Le Corbusier-designed building, the one and only in North America. But with a campus buzzing with new and returning students, who wants to wait eight months to get the party started? Cue circa 1963, an exhibition of iconic works from the early to mid-1960s that paint a picture (no pun intended) of the contemporary art scene in the building’s beginning years. Full story
Though oﬃcially a day recognizing the contributions and achievements of American workers, most people spend Labor Day celebrating the contributions of summer getaways to our sanity and the achievements of the American grill master. Full story
Last Tuesday evening, the Harvard Art Museums welcomed an energetic group of incoming Harvard freshmen to the Sackler Museum galleries. The group of about 75 students were given the opportunity to explore the collections as part of the Freshman Arts Program (or FAP, as they proudly exclaim when rallying the troops), a week-long program of activities led by Director Dana Knox introducing incoming freshmen to the artistic community at Harvard. Full story
We recently acquired a rare collection of over 380 printer’s proof photographs through a partial gift from artists Gary Schneider and John Erdman. Schneider and Erdman collected the photographs for over three decades through Schneider/Erdman Inc., a photo printing ad ﬁnishing studio they formed in New York in 1981 to ﬁnance their lives as artists. Full story
Last Saturday, Jennifer Quick, a PhD candidate in Harvard’s Department of History of Art and Architecture—and former Agnes Mongan Curatorial Intern at the Harvard Art Museums—gave a gallery talk on the silkscreen print Usuyuki (Japanese for “a little snow”) from our current exhibition Jasper Johns / In Press: The Crosshatch Works and the Logic of Print. Full story
Conservators in the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies are hard at work preparing objects for their big debut in our new building. Take a look at these photos of a 1794 portrait of George Washington by Charles Willson Peale being cleaned and restored by Kate Smith, Projects Conservator in the Paintings Lab. Full story
London is not the only place where Olympic strength and agility is being ﬂaunted. Yesterday, we were delightfully amused to see our Twitter feed ﬂooding with messages from museums across the country boasting their most competition-ready art and artists for the Museum Olympics. Unfortunately, our athlete couldn’t compete because he wouldn’t get out of bed. We highly recommend searching #MuseumOlympics for endless entertainment. (Yes, the conversation is still going.) Full story
The steel superstructure at our 32 Quincy site was completed in June, preparing the way for installation of our steel-and-glass roof system, a hallmark of the Renzo Piano design. The roof will be installed by the German ﬁrm Josef Gartner GmbH, a world-renowned manufacturer of curtain walls. They have already begun installing the clips and supports for the glass panels. Full story
Since we launched our redesigned website back in May 2009, we’ve been collecting data on visitors’ activity, including how many pages you visit, how long you hang around, and what you’re searching for. (Hope this doesn’t creep you out.) We use this giant pool of information to inform decisions about how to make our site better. But it’s not always just business. This information is also fun to look at, not only for practical work applications, but for getting to know our visitors a little better.
So what did we discover? That you like looking at art. Big surprise, right? Our Collection Search tool is by far the most visited section of our site. Here are the top ﬁve most viewed objects in our collection. Full story
We’re delighted by all of the great press we’ve been getting for our exhibition Jasper Johns / In Press: The Crosshatch Works and the Logic of Print. Thank you to the reviewers who shared the story of our show, from inception as an undergraduate seminar to culmination as a full-ﬂedged museum exhibition, and perfectly captured the themes of the exhibition, while oﬀering insights of their own. Full story
Here you will ﬁnd news, happenings, and occasional musings from the Harvard Art Museums. Visit us often to see new content each week.
You may have noticed that this is one of a number of enhancements we’ve made to our site. Some are small (we refreshed the design). Others you can’t even see (we converted to Drupal). One enhancement we’re really excited about is our improved collection search tool. Full story