UAG

  • Bronze rooster base with bending
    Bronze rooster base with bending
     

    Student Journal: Spotlight on Conservation

    Spotlight on Conservation

    Patricia Smith, 7 November 2017

    Conservation is often an essential part of museum and gallery work that is often overlooked by the casual visitor. Our Museum Studies Exhibition Seminar had its own conservation tasks to complete, which included creating condition reports for the items generously loaned by the Nationality Rooms Office and University Library System (ULS) archives. Condition reports can take many forms, depending on the type of object and the goal of the report. For our purposes, these reports serve as an intake record to document any damages that may occur in the various stages of transport and exhibition. The Documentation team was in charge of completing these reports. The following images detail some aspects of the objects that a conservator in a museum or a gallery might be asked to address.

    One of our key loans is a bronze rooster. This sculpture exhibits some physical damage, particularly around the base (Fig. 1). Notice the warping and bending. The physical damage does not necessarily devalue the object; damage and markings are part of its history and can reveal information such as provenance and production.

    In addition to physical damage in this case, there is also chemical damage. The green patina on this bronze sculpture of a Benin Queen Mother is a classic example of a chemical process called oxidation (Fig. 2). Bronze is an alloy that is primarily made of copper, and copper is a metal that is highly susceptible to oxidization. This means it reacts with oxygen molecules in the environment to form various copper oxides, which are usually harmless to the object and sometimes even desired because of the color. These oxides then continue to react to combine with elements such as sulfur and carbon. The Statue of Liberty, for example, is actually covered in an oxidized copper patina. It was once a warm brown. However, if the copper begins to combine with chlorides present in the environment, it will form copper chlorides, which can lead to a dangerous form of deterioration called “bronze disease.” At some point after our exhibition concludes, the Benin Bronze Queen Mother should be checked to ensure that the oxidation process at work here is not causing damage to the sculpture itself.

    Besides three-dimensional objects, conservators also work with paper objects like books and archival documents. The Archives & Special Collections Center of Hillman Library loaned several fragile documents for our exhibition, including an architectural design for the English Room (Fig. 3). Like the Benin

    Bronze discussed above, many of these documents display signs of physical damage. In the case of the English Room drawings, we took photographs to show that the creasing and tearing evident here is old damage, and did not occur during the course of our exhibition.

    Categories: 
    • Undergraduate Work
    • Spaces
    • UAG
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    Student Journal: Seeing it all come together

    Seeing it all come together

    Xander Schempf, 24 October and 6 November 2017

     

     

    October 24

     

    As a class, we are currently in the stages right before the show really starts to pick up, or at least that’s how I’ve perceived it. Coming from the Installation group, it feels like planning can only go so far, and that once we get into the gallery to begin set up, things will come together and solutions to problems we didn’t know existed will be found. After multiple drafts with constant revisions and tweaks from fellow installation members, professors, and other classmates, we as a group have a pretty solid grasp on how things will be displayed.  The original plan of having Visual Knowledge in the front gallery, Identity in the rotunda, and Ritual in the hallway is intact (with just a few deviations). Within a week our installation group went from tentative guesses on locations to a well thought out layout of the upcoming exhibition. Next comes the physical installing of the objects, which is what I’m most looking forward to. Weeks of planning and scrapped ideas have led to this, so I hope for the best of luck!

     

     

    November 6

     

    Just a few days before the show opens, and the exhibition has truly come together. I've learned a lot about how a museum might operate from the de-installation of the previous show and the installation of ours. I learned many installation techniques such as proper lighting, display methods, handling of objects, and many more that I hope to bring to careers in my future. After it’s all installed, all that’s left to be done is to just let it happen. That's what I’m most excited about, just knowing that it’s installed and anyone can come and visit. 

    Categories: 
    • Undergraduate Work
    • Spaces
    • UAG
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    Student Journal: What is Ruyi?

    What is Ruyi?

    Wendi Yu, 7 November 2017

     

    When you look at the vitrine that is filled with a set of ceremonial keys from the Nationality Rooms, an ornate key with gold accents will catch your eyes. Made for the Chinese Room, this ceremonial key is designed as a Ruyi (scepter), with a curved shape and a head fashioned like a cloud. But do you know what a Ruyi is, and what it represents in traditional Chinese culture?

    The Chinese term Ruyi is a compound of Ru “as; like” and Yi “wish; desire”, which had been used as early as the former Han Dynasty (206 BC – 24 AD). The Hanshu biography first recorded that Ruyi means “as you wish” in a quotation of scholar Jing Fang (77-37 BCE). There are two basic theories of the origin of the Ruyi. One is that Ruyi originated from Sanskrit Anuruddha, “a ceremonial scepter” used by Buddhist monks in India, who later brought it to China. The other is that the Ruyi was invented as a back scratcher because it had an apparent ability to reach parts of the human body that there normally impossible to reach.

    During its historical evolution, however, Ruyi became luxurious symbols of political power in the Qing dynasty (1644-1912 AD). A Ruyi was regularly used in imperial ceremonies, and they were awarded as gifts to and from the Emperor. Because of its elegant style, the Ruyi was also popular among the literati class.

    A Ruyi could be made from various materials, including jade, ivory, metal, coral, wood, lacquer, crystal, and precious gems. Craftsmen fashioned the head of each Ruyi as cloud, fist, flower, Lingzhi mushroom, or a bat, which all symbolize power and good fortune. Since the design of the Chinese Room in the Cathedral of Learning was inspired by the Forbidden City, which was the Emperor’s palace for more than 600 years, the shape of Ruyi was used as a model for its ceremonial key to represent the dynastic history of China. The Chinese characters "Ruyi" were also incised on its head, making the appearance of the key as an important motif of Chinese culture unmistakable.

    Categories: 
    • Undergraduate Work
    • UAG
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    Weekly Update For Exhibition for HAA 1020

           This past week, going into this week has been dedicated to finishing up the installation at the gallery. Everyone is working hard to finish mounting wall texts as well as setting up all the display cases and move in the last of the objects in the different galleries. Each team is finalizing their areas of the gallery, each team has different challenges in presenting the objects for the show. Some groups work with vitrines and display cases, while others work with manikins and wall mounted objects.                                                                                                                                           The class has also finished installing the Avinoff watercolor gallery while installing a few student were able to learn in detail about the effects of lighting on watercolor paintings as well as how to handle the artwork. One of the main challenges with displaying such delicate artwork is the effect light has on the paint. Students were given a device that measures light intensity. this device is used in knowing what range of intensity is safe for objects and artwork to be shown in. 

    Categories: 
    • Undergraduate Work
    • Spaces
    • UAG
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    Student Journal: Labels and Posters and Postcards, Oh My!

    Labels and Posters and Postcards, Oh My!

    Darien Pepple, 24 October 2017

     

    In the past week, we have taken a few significant steps in our exhibition production process. First, everyone created labels for the items that they have chosen to focus on within their planning group. The three planning groups, known as “visual knowledge,” “ritual and sacred spaces,” and “identity,” were designated to reflect three of the research Constellations of the Department of History of Art and Architecture and have been used to organize the exhibition into three main sections in the University Art Gallery. We are now completing our final edits on these labels before they are given to the publications working group for final review. As a member of the publications group, I will be proofreading the labels that have been submitted to ensure that no grammar or spelling errors make their way into our exhibition space. I am looking forward to reading everyone’s labels and learning more about the amazing objects that will be on display.

     

    An exciting decision was also made this past week, as the class voted for a poster design that will serve as the central advertisement for our exhibition around campus. Members of the publications group created three final submissions after the initial drafts were discussed in class. The chosen design exemplifies the diversity of the Nationality Rooms and presents just a few of the meaningful objects that will be displayed in our exhibition. The next step in this aspect of the preparation was the incorporation of this design into the format of a postcard. In the publications group, we have come up with a number of postcard design drafts, and these will be finalized later this week. It is amazing to see our exhibition concept and goals come to life through these visuals, and I cannot wait to see them once they have been printed.

     

    It has been wonderful to notice how far the different working and planning groups have come through the products that we are beginning to see. Last week, we were able to walk through the gallery space and discuss where specific objects should be displayed. It is exciting to see everything come together for the show, and in just a few short weeks, it will be open to the public!

    Categories: 
    • Undergraduate Work
    • Spaces
    • UAG
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    Student Journal: Friendship across nationalities, Stories behind dolls

    Friendship across nationalities: Stories behind dolls

    Tianni Wang, 25 October 2017

     

    It is widely known that traditional handmade Japanese dolls are great choices as souvenirs for foreign tourists. They formed an important part of traditional Japanese culture for much of the nation’s recorded history. What many people do not know, however, is that dolls actually played an important role in the diplomatic relationship between Japan and the United States in the 1920s.

     

    At that time, the world was full of international anxiety because of World War I. Discrimination was increasing and successive immigration laws were passed. Finally, with the passing of the US Immigration Act of 1924, the Japanese found themselves entirely prohibited from immigrating to the United States. Into this bleak picture stepped Dr. Sidney Gulick and the United Federation of Churches of Christ in America. They initiated the Doll Messengers of Goodwill project which collected over 12,000 dolls with blue eyes from children across the United States. They sent those dolls to Japan, hoping to ease the tension between the two countries. The dolls were given a grand welcome in Japan, and were distributed to schools throughout the country. To return the courtesies, 58 dolls were painstakingly made by the doll-making masters in Japan and sent to cities across the United States. Among them was “Miss Kochi,” who was installed in her new home at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. Dr. Andrey Avinoff, director of the museum at that time, wrote a thank you letter to Mr. Oshima, the governor of Kochi prefecture. His letter reiterated the goodwill message Miss Kochi had brought with her: “…this presentation by the children of your province manifests the cordial spirit existing between Japan and the United States…”

     

    More than 60 years later in 1993, a group of 50 Japanese people from Kochi prefecture came to Pittsburgh to visit Miss Kochi and raise funds for the Japanese Nationality Room. With their contributions and the efforts of many other people, the Japanese Nationality Room was dedicated in 1999. From then on, dolls became an important part in the Room’s collection. Currently, a doll dressed in an elegant kimono is on display in the Japanese Nationality Room. A set of Japanese Kokeshi dolls will also be displayed in the coming exhibition, Narratives of The Nationality Rooms: Immigration and Identity in Pittsburgh, as well as an edition of Carnegie Magazine that highlights Miss Kochi. The show also features watercolor paintings by Avinoff, whose depictions of the Nationality Rooms reflects a deep interest in the kinds of international collaboration that made the Rooms possible, and have become a focus of the UAG exhibition.

    Categories: 
    • Undergraduate Work
    • Spaces
    • UAG
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    Student Journal: New Experiences

    New Experiences

    Emily Campbell, 3 November 2017

     

    Having never put an exhibition together, this experience allowed me to think about gallery spaces in a way I hadn’t before. Specifically, I realized that the way that art and art objects are arranged in a room is done in a very specific way and with purpose. We had to think in terms of not just how objects and artifacts would fit spatially in a room together, but; also if the story they were telling made sense.

    Each of the rooms in the University Art Gallery has been given a theme, with the Rotunda focused on Identity, the Hallway used for Sacred Space, and the Front Gallery dealing with Conflict and Cohesion. My favorite part of this seminar is not just seeing all of the beautiful and unique artifacts that were chosen by my peers but, getting to work with people in a way that I haven’t before. During the planning of the exhibition and the actual working as a team to put it together, we have become this tight-knit family. Everyone is working towards the same goal to make this exhibition a success and we’ve all helped each other out in the process. For instance, even though we are all put into groups and are tasked with different things, if I get done with something I jump over to another part of the gallery and see if anyone from a different team needs help, and vice versa. Of course, our professor Shirin Fozi and curator Isabelle Chartier have been there every step of the way to help guide us but, that being said, they’ve given us a lot of free rein. Giving us this independence and letting us make big decisions while still approving everything that happens and making suggestions along the way has helped me and my peers tremendously.

    Working in art galleries is my career goal once I graduate. This process has not only taught me how to work in a team better; it has also helped me learn about the whole process of putting an exhibition together and all the hard work that goes into it. I already feel more confident that this is something I can do in the future and I know my teammates are appreciative of the experience as well. I hope everyone enjoys seeing the exhibition as much as we enjoyed creating it!

    Categories: 
    • Undergraduate Work
    • Spaces
    • UAG
    • Front Gallery
    • Front Gallery
    • Rotonda
    • Hallway
    • Avinoff WaterColors
    • Documentation group setting up for interviews
    • Interview
    • Second Interview
    • Interview with Michael Walter
    Front Gallery
    The class discusses where the timeline will be as well as objects.
     

    Weekly Update For Exhibition for HAA 1020

           It was a very busy week last week for the class! This past week was spent in the gallery discussing and finalizing the installation. We also walked around the gallery while the installation team discussed where they would be placing objects and asking for feedback. While in the gallery we discussed wall texts and where they would be placed on the walls. There was much debate on certain aspects of the Exhibition, this pertained too certain objects and where they would be placed and how their placement would affect the flow of the show. One aspect of the show that was discussed that is very important is that of the placement of the monitor that would be on during the show. We wanted to make sure the monitor and what will be playing on it, would not cause people to group up in front of it and cause congestion in the gallery. What room the monitor would be in was finally decided by the end of class with everyone agreeing on it being in the same gallery as the Avinoff watercolors.  

           Last week the Documentation group began filming for what would be on the monitor during the show. They set up shop in the French Room in the Cathedral of learning and interviewed tour guides of the Nationality Rooms as well as Trainees. They also were also to get an in-depth interview with Michael Walter, the tour coordinator of the Nationality Rooms here at Pitt! The interview gave further insight into certain aspects of the Rooms and some challenges he has faced while tour coordinator of the Nationality Rooms. 

          As we come closer and closer to the Gallery opening the working groups are in full gear creating and finalizing wall texts as well as tombstone texts for each and every object that is in the Show. While learning how to create these wall texted we faced the issue of making sure we did not write to much or too little, but just the right amount of text on the labels. This is an ongoing challenge each group faces in creating these texts as well as making sure each member of the group gets their opinion heard. Wall texts play a key role in a gallery and can be just as important as an object in the show, both the object and the text must match to make an effective message and one understood by the gallery visitor. It's our job to make sure this is done and the wall texts can be understood by everyone regardless of age and education, this show is for everyone!

    Categories: 
    • Undergraduate Work
    • Spaces
    • UAG
    • African Heritage Room Ceremonial Key
    • class goes to the Frick Library to see Avinoff water colors
    • Possible Posters
    African Heritage Room Ceremonial Key

    This is a close up of the ceremonial key given to the committee after the Dedication ceremony.

     

    2017 HAA 1020 Museum Studies Exhibition Seminar!

    Hello and welcome to HAA 1020 Exhibition Seminar of 2017 blog!

     

                  This blog is the place to find out all the information and highlights from the classes progress thus so far in the Exhibition. This year’s theme is centered around the Nationality Rooms here at the Cathedral of Learning. The Exhibition theme is The Narrative of the Nationality Rooms: Immigration and Identity in Pittsburgh.  To tackle this theme the class has been split up into different working groups that have their own goals in mind that correlate to the main theme. The working groups are identity, visual knowledge and sacred spaces. Each group has been working diligently in the past few weeks to gather information and research at the archives as well as the Special Collections in the Hillman.

                  In the past week the class has started the second phase of the exhibition, from the research phase to now instillation and getting the gallery ready. We all have now joined additional groups that have different jobs for getting the show ready in the gallery in Frick Fine Arts. Again, we were split up into three different groups to achieve this task. The groups are instillation, documentation and publication. We have made great steps in finalizing certain parts of the show, that being the poster, postcard and the catering, which we all know is the tastiest part of this whole thing!

                  This blog will be updated two to three times a week, one post will be an overall update on the Exhibition and the class.  The other posts will be submitted by students in the class and will discuss something interesting or highlight achievements they themselves have done or want to convey in deeper detail for all to read!

    Categories: 
    • Undergraduate Work
    • Spaces
    • UAG
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    Museum Exhibition Seminar presents Paradoxes of Play!

    Finally, after much hard work, deliberation, investigation, and play ourselves, the Museum Studies Exhibition Seminar class is proud to present our final exhibition, Paradoxes of Play: Conrete and Conceptualist Proposals from Brazil and Beyond! Here are a few pictures from our opening reception this past Friday. Come out and experience it for yourself at the UAG from now until December 9, Monday-Friday 10am-4pm. Also, check back with the blog within the next few weeks to see pictures and hear stories of how the seminar students worked together to install this exhibition.

    Categories: 
    • Undergraduate Work
    • UAG

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