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Archive for the ‘Museum Ethics’ Category

The New Britain Museum of American Art by Architect, Ann Beha

The New Britain Museum of American Art by Architect, Ann Beha

What is the role of the architecture of a museum? Are museums just about the interior display of art, or do they reveal currents in architecture? Walking through a museum, I can assume that their priorities are to display art well and provide a space that creates an aesthetic, educational experience for the visitor, while at the same time embody civic values and the idea of a socially engaged museum. Museums alarm many art world insiders when there is a move toward the spectacularization of the museum at the expense of traditional commitments to high art. Art critic Christopher Knight said, “when the museum itself becomes the event…art gets lost in the shuffle and the true purpose of the museum is betrayed.” However, critics champion museum architecture by architects such as Renzo Piano that allows total focus on the art. (more…)

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This post comes to us from Jan Czepiel, Curatorial Volunteer.

Barbara Belgrade Spargo in front of John Sloan’s Girl Undressing
(Stockings), 1927, during the opening reception of Facets of Modernity

The motivations and beginnings of private art collections are as unique as the collectors themselves. Collectors may work from a shoestring budget or from seemingly infinite resources. Some collections grow in value while others, as fine as they are, do not. Some collectors may build a collection purely for the love of art and others for investment. Yet somewhere within almost all art collectors is the appreciation for artistic expression. Who are some of these collectors? What effects do their collectors have on museums and the art community as a whole?

Historically, we can recall many illustrious art collectors – from Catherine the Great to Solomon R. Guggenheim and Gertrude and Leo Stein – as most of the world’s art museums have in fact grown out of private collections formed by royalty or the elite. Yet, one does not have to look far back in history or solely toward the upper echelons of society to find individuals who describe themselves as “impassioned collectors.”

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Gentleman with Negro Attendant, ca. 1785-88. Ralph Earl (1751-1801). Oil on Canvas. New Britain Museum of American Art. Harriet Russell Stanley Fund, 1948.06.

Upon a quick glance, the newest addition to the Colonial Gallery at the New BritainMuseum of American Art has left some visitors panic-stricken – an understandable  reaction considering the fact that the painting has two large holes cut out of it. But do not worry, the NBMAA has not been vandalized, in fact, the holes are meant to be there. The work, Jaavon and the Unknown Gentleman, was recently commissioned by the Museum from New Haven artist Titus Kaphar as part of an new project of pairing contemporary art with older works from the permanent collection. The purpose of this project, Appropriation and Inspiration, is to highlight the ways in which historical awareness has shaped the practice of many contemporary artists.  Appropriation and Inspiration is not yet a full-fledged exhibition, but rather a budding initiative that will develop into a museum-wide installation in the near future.

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One of Efremoff’s artworks

Efremoff is on the forefront of New Media art. He obtained his MFA from the University of Connecticut, and has exhibited all over the United States and abroad in counties including Italy, Germany, and South Korea.

Working in this “new media” is, of course,  new and constantly in flux. New Media was pioneered in the 1960s, and modern technology has opened the door to endless possibilities. The very definition of “art” comes into question with these new parameters because of the plastic nature of the medium. (more…)

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Bryson Burroughs (1869-1934) worked as a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for 28 years in the early 20th century. During his time at the Met, he was responsible for their massive increase in American art holdings, in addition to numerous other achievements including the first acquisition for a public collection of a work by Paul Cezanne (1839-1906). Burroughs’ curatorial decisions and influences were prominent in the advancement of the art market in the early 20th century. Interestingly, his ideas also had a major impact on the NBMAA’s decision to collect solely American art, with a focus on contemporary work.

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It is no surprise that museums are utilizing social media as yet another avenue to reach out to their audiences. In fact, if you are reading this blog post, then you are using social media to connect with the New Britain Museum of American Art in a digital way! These 21st century types of connections are quickly becoming major trends within the museum world. With technology constantly reinventing itself, it is almost certain that the continual  redefinition and evolution of “social media” will be occur over the next decade. (more…)

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How much does the physical setting in which works of art are presented matter? Works put in contest of their original physical setting (such as churches and homes) can change the perception of the objects, as context endows certain values.

In the same way that a temple can plays a key role in the interpretation of the art within, the museum organizes the visitor’s experience, and the guest engages in an activity much like a ritual. The objects in the museum become its voice and face, and the decorative elements form a logical whole as an iconographic program that clarifies purpose. Although the museum is a ceremonial monument, the conventional art historian may ignore the meaning the work acquires in the museum, insisting on the viewer’s own experience of the art shaped by the artist’s intention. (more…)

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