Category Archives: Academic institutions

Global Guides at Penn Museum

“Refugees Connect Their Personal Stories with a Museum’s Ancient Artifacts”

“The Global Guides program at the Penn Museum hires recent refugees from the Middle East to give personalized tours. The leader of my tour was Moumena Saradar, a refugee from Syria who has lived in Philadelphia for two years.”

By Olivia Jia for Hyperallergic, 2/20/2019

Read the above article to see how one museum is connecting with refugees from the Middle East by hiring them to teach visitors about their culture, both ancient and contemporary.

Global Guides tour at Penn Museum, Moumena Saradar showcases similarities between her grandfather’s family business and the artifacts from Tepe Gawra (all photos by Olivia Jia for Hyperallergic)

We do this here! Students curate exhibits!

From the New York Times, March 15, 2017.

On College Campuses, a New Role for Students: Museum Curator, b

Students from ARTH 317: Laboratory in Museum Studies, are curating an exhibition on the work of Margaret Sutton (1905-90), New York artist and 1926 graduate of Mary Washington. Opening is April 19, 2017.

Conservators in the spotlight

A new trend in art conservation has conservators working in public places…not in the conservation lab, but in galleries where the public may watch. Is this good for the art? “The public” aren’t wearing lab coats, nor are they always in small groups (more people = more humidity = more damage to works of art). One could also ask, Is it good for the public? Chemicals are (sometimes) involved in conservation. Here is an article from The New York Times that provides interesting background.

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 12.45.03 PM

Showtime at the Musée d’Orsay: Watching Varnish Dry

Saving Art from ISIS

Maxwell Anderson, former director of the Dallas Museum of Art and former chair of the Association of Art Museum Directors’ Task Force on Archaeological Materials and Ancient Art, writes persuasively here of AAMD’s decision to establish a system for protecting art in times of war, terrorism, or natural disaster. Called the “Protocols for Safe Havens for Works of Cultural Significance from Countries in Crisis,” the protocols offer a structure for American museums to “shelter works of art at risk.”  According to Anderson, “The protocols are a major first step. They mean that, for the first time, American museums are taking an active role in protecting cultural heritage under threat from Islamic State.”

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 2.45.08 PM

Maxwell Anderson, “How to Save Art from Islamic State,” Wall Street Journal, October 20, 2015.

Your professors — Just what is the point?

I hope everyone who comes across this post will read this article and comment.

What is your relationship to your professors? Do you want to talk about course content? Are you interested in your classes? What BIG questions about life do you have that you think college should/could address? Did you come to college with BIG questions?

“What’s the point of a professor?” New York Times, May 9, 2015.

The article is by Mark Bauerlein, an English professor at Emory, a senior editor at First Things and the author, most recently, of “The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30).”

Dutch museum in search of owners of art

The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, a museum of modern and contemporary art, is hosting an extraordinary exhibit of works from its own collection. However, the question is, does the museum really own the works? During the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands (from May 1940), the director of the Stedelijk accepted works of art for safe-keeping from Jewish owners. This exhibit, “The Stedelijk Museum on the Second World War,”

Matisse, "Odalisque," ca. 1920, currently at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

Matisse, “Odalisque,” ca. 1920, currently at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

includes facsimiles of provenance records from that period with the hope that original owners may be identified. This article by Mary M. Lane from the online Wall Street Journal (2/27/15) includes photographs of the bunker in the dunes of Castricum, a Dutch seaside town, where many artworks were stored during WWII.

The normally camouflaged door that accessed the bunker that Stedelijk Museum curator Willem Sandberg commissioned for Holland after he visited Spain in 1938 and saw the cultural destruction evident during the Spanish Civil War. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.

The normally camouflaged door that accessed the bunker that Stedelijk Museum curator Willem Sandberg commissioned for Holland after he visited Spain in 1938 and saw the cultural destruction evident during the Spanish Civil War. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.

This link to the museum’s site has several short videos.



How much is Detroit’s art worth?

The city of Detroit is bankrupt. The Detroit Institute of Arts has a collection worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The art at the DIA belongs to the city and has long made Detroit a destination — people visit the city to see the art. Should the city be allowed to sell this collection?

Read what Christie’s has to say about what this collection might get if sold.

A link to the DIA’s website.

And a quick link that takes you to museum’s permanent collection.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s The Wedding Dance, ca. 1566, is in their collection. Go to this link, roll over the image, and look at the detail!


British paintings, a resource

The Your Paintings website is a joint initiative between the BBC, the Public Catalogue Foundation (a not-for-profit organisation) and over 3,000 participating collections from across the United Kingdom.

Your Paintings is the result of the PCF’s ten-year project to digitize the UK’s entire national collection of oil paintings. 80% of these paintings are typically in store whilst the vast majority had not been photographed before this project. These artworks are now free to view and on the BBC’s website.

A few years ago the BBC made a three minute film about the project that you might enjoy watching. This is the link:

This is the only website anywhere in the world illustrating a nation’s entire painting collection. There are over 210,000 oil paintings in the UK’s national collection. These publicly owned oil paintings are held in institutions ranging from museums large and small to universities, town halls, hospitals and even fire stations. In total there are works by 36,000 artists on the site ranging from the world famous to the completely obscure. Your Paintings provides a major source of organized material for research into art history, British and international history, genealogy and topography.