Archive for April, 2011

Friday Photo Post: The Royal Wedding

Royal weddings happen once in a lifetime. From the flowers, the wedding dress, and the cake, everyone wants to know the special day’s details. They have become so popular that millions of people watch them on television and purchase memorabilia. Items made to commemorate the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton include dishware, a replica royal engagement ring, PEZ dispensers, and even a Catherine Middleton doll! With the excitement surrounding today’s royal wedding, the Friday photo post focuses on works of art in the collection that include couples and objects made for royalty.

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Amy Wolf
Coordinator of Gallery Teaching

Community Connection: Combining Two Passions

One of the great things about working with volunteers is the opportunity to meet people with a wide range of interests, experiences, and passions.  Last fall, I interviewed Deborah Harvey, one of our Go van Gogh volunteers.  I am pleased to introduce Jennifer McNabb, another Go van Gogh volunteer, who has managed to combine two of her passions through our outreach program.  
Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m British, and I’ve been in the U.S. for twenty years, in Dallas for nineteen years.  I’m a longtime visitor to the DMA.   When my work situation opened up seven years ago, I was looking for a way to volunteer in the arts.  I have a background in community arts from the 1980’s in England, when I helped set up and run a group studio for artists called Red Herring Studios.  We took over derelict buildings that were to be demolished, converted the buildings to studio spaces, and had an exhibition space too.  Red Herring put visual arts on the map in Brighton and has given birth to other fabulous organizations like Fabrica.  

Jennifer with her father and sister at Chesworth Studios in West Sussex, England.

What do you like most about Dallas?

I think what I like most about Dallas is the very vivid cultural life here.  We have great museums (the Nasher Sculpture Center, the DMA, The Crow Collection of Asian Art), and I love the way the Arts District has been developing with the AT&T Performing Arts Center and the expansion of Booker T. Washington High School.  I don’t come from a place where you have zoning; in London, these places are all in different parts. Also, I love the fact that Ft. Worth is just a few miles away with another bunch of fabulous museums. Although Dallas is a town that tends to be on the map business-wise, it is also on the map culturally.  I live in Oak Cliff, so it’s very easy to get to these places.

Tell us about your relationship with the DMA.

I started out by coming to your office and asking what I can do to volunteer with the DMA.  At the time, I couldn’t give the amount of time necessary for the docent program, but I did like the idea of the Go van Gogh program.  I have a background in teaching, and I thought it would be nice to get back into the classroom.  I like that the DMA has this type of in-reach and does such a good job at taking art into the classroom, getting kids excited about it, and hopefully encouraging teachers to take kids to the museum more.  Teaching is something I feel passionate about along with the visual arts – I come from a family of artists and I like the fact that I can go into the classroom and do all the fun stuff, and the kids love me for it. 

I’d been doing Go van Gogh for three or four years when a friend said to me one day, “You should come to this meeting about Resolana and get involved with this organization that provides programming for incarcerated women.”  I am also passionate about prison reform.  When I saw the creativity workshops they did, I thought yes, this combines two things I feel strongly about.  I got involved almost immediately.  After I had been to the jail a few times, I spoke with you and Amy about the possibility of the DMA doing something in partnership with Resolana.  I was looking for ways I could take the DMA into the jail, and you suggested trying some of the programs we teach in the schools. 

Jennifer leads the Arts of Mexico Go van Gogh program with Resolana participants.

What are the greatest benefits and challenges to presenting Resolana programs?

I was very aware I was teaching a different population, but in some respects they’re kind of similar.  Being in the jail frees them up, and they are very good about trying anything you suggest.  They don’t have self-editing about what is right and what is wrong in a class setting.  The women are willing to try most things; I don’t get the same resistance I might get from sixth-grade students.  The difference is, these are adults, and I didn’t want to make them feel I was doing baby stuff with them.  I had to adapt the programs because certain supplies are not allowed in the jail.  I also tried to get the discussion portion much more pitched toward their level.  I would not lead too much, and tried to give them space.  I am also in the Master of Liberal Studies program at SMU, and I took a class with Carmen Smith, who worked at the DMA for twelve years before working at the Meadows Museum.  I learned a number of techniques for talking about art with groups of people that museum educators use and started to use some of those techniques.  What I learned about in class went straight to the jail, and I saw a remarkable difference in the quality of the discussions. 

What is capturing your time and attention at the moment?

I’m always reading something fascinating, but work right now is capturing a lot time and attention.  We now have a pod in the jail dedicated to women interested in attending Resolana classes – they all live together.  It means we have doubled the number of women we see every week, so I’m trying to increase our number of volunteers as quickly as I can.  I am also trying to develop a program to train volunteers, using Go van Gogh as a model.  The Meadows Museum has donated their studio for training sessions. That takes up a lot of my time.

My other big passion is learning. I get to take classes in all kinds of things in the Liberal Studies program. I’m knee-deep in anthropology at the moment, and I’m writing a paper about systems of value in the U.S. and in the western world in general, and how that compares to other value systems when looking at works of art.

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

Fit for a Prince (and His Future Princess)

Millions of people around the world will watch as Prince William marries Catherine Middleton on Friday in Westminster Abbey, but only 1,900 lucky guests received invitations to attend the service, including members of the British Royal Family, religious leaders from the Church of England and other faiths, and international dignitaries. Did you receive that coveted gilded invitation from the Queen and need something special to wear to the wedding of the century? Let the DMA’s collections offer some wardrobe inspiration . . .

Etruscan, Pair of bauletto earrings, 6th century B.C., gold, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. James H. Clark

No Royal Wedding outfit would be complete without glittering jewelry, and these ancient Etruscan earrings (from the 6th century B.C.) would complement a smart spring suit or frock. Known as bauletto (or “little bag”) for their cylindrical shape, these earrings originally would have been suspended on hooks. Each earring is decorated with an elaborate floral motif, created by fine gold filigree wire and tiny gold globules.

Yotoco period, Headdress ornament with heads flanked by crested crocodiles, c. A.D. 1-700 (?), gold, Dallas Museum of Art, The Nora and John Wise Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jake L. Hamon, the Eugene McDermott Family, Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, and Mr. and Mrs. John D. Murchison

This extravagant headdress would have been only one component of ceremonial regalia worn by men in the Calima region of Colombia about 2,000 years ago. Imagine the gleaming image of a wedding guest outfitted from head to toe in gold – including ear ornaments, pectorals, bracelets, and anklets. This ornament probably would have been attached to a cloth headdress, like a turban, and its gold dangles produced a soft ringing as the wearer moved.

Charles Willson Peale, “Rachel Leeds Kerr”, 1790, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Pauline Allen Gill Foundation

Both Catherine Middleton and her future grandmother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II, are well known for their shared taste in glamorous hats (compare their recent looks and vote on your favorite here). Whether the bride will wear a hat, tiara, or flowers on her wedding day remains a secret, but we can surely expect a parade of fanciful millinery from the guests at Westminster Abbey. This elaborate hat must have been a favorite of Mrs. Rachel Leeds Kerr, as she wore it when sitting for her portrait by leading American artist Charles Willson Peale in 1790. Wearing this sumptuous topper would signify Mrs. Kerr’s wealth, fashionable taste, and high social status—just as a fabulous hat does today.

Abraham Portal, Huntingdon wine cistern, 1761-1762, silver, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Patricia D. Beck

Guests to the Royal Wedding have more to think about than clothes, jewelry, and accessories; a wedding gift for William and Catherine is an equally important consideration. Silver serving pieces are often cherished wedding gifts for any bride and groom, but buying for royal couples demands something truly special, such as the monumental Huntingdon wine cistern. In fact, this magnificent piece was used to hold ice and chill wine in the home of Frances Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon, who was appointed to the cabinet of the King of England in the late 18th century. Weighing more than eighty pounds (empty!), it would be the perfect centerpiece at any royal party. If we could, we would fill it with bottles of champagne to toast William and Catherine on their wedding day.


Lisa Kays is Manager of Adult Programming at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Seldom Scene: Fancy Dancing

On Saturday we welcomed hundreds of visitors to our Art of the American Indians Family Celebration, a day of fun activities, performances featuring the Oklahoma Fancy Dancers, art, tours, and a special sneak peek of the exhibition Art of the American Indians: The Thaw Collection. Below are a few pictures from the day. Join us on Friday, May 20, to celebrate this exhibition during Late Night.

Photos by Chad Redmon, Photographer at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Gustav Stickley and Frank Lloyd Wright in Dallas

Last Monday, our theme for docent training was “a morning of architecture in Dallas.”  I invited Katherine Seale, director of Preservation Dallas, to speak with the docents about the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement in Dallas. 
As director of Preservation Dallas, Katherine has firsthand knowledge of all the historic homes in Dallas. The Arts and Crafts movement hit Dallas later than on the East and West coasts, but there are many excellent examples of Stickley-esque Craftsman homes in East Dallas. 
Katherine spoke about Swiss Avenue and the Munger Place neighborhood, both of which I was familiar with already.  To me, the most fascinating part of Katherine’s presentation was about a neighborhood in Oak Cliff called Winnetka Heights.  Winnetka Heights is, according to Katherine, the most Arts and Crafts neighborhood in Dallas.  Craftsman bungalows–one-story homes made of wood with low-pitched roofs and exposed joinings– line the streets of this neighborhood.  I’m already planning a weekend outing to view these homes.
Following Katherine’s presentation, architect Ann Abernathy spoke about Frank Lloyd Wright in Dallas.  Yes, the DMA currently has an exhibition of his prints: Line and Form: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Wasmuth Portfolio.  But did you know that Wright was the architect for the Kalita Humphreys Theater?  

Frank Lloyd Wright's Kalita Humphreys Theater

Ann is the perfect person to speak about Frank Lloyd Wright, because she was the project lead for the renovation of Wright’s Oak Park home and studio.  She has also been named the project lead for the renovation of the Kalita Humphreys Theater.  This gives her the unique distinction of having worked on projects that were created at the beginning and end of Wright’s career.

The plan for the Kalita Humphreys Theater came from a 1914 theater plan that was designed by Wright but never built.  When he was asked to design a building for the Dallas Theater Center, Wright agreed, but only if he could use his 1914 plan.  What many people may not know is that the Kalita is one of the last buildings constructed by Wright–he began work on it in 1955 when he was eighty-eight years old, and it was completed after his death in 1959.

As anyone who has visited the Kalita Humphreys Theater knows, it is situated on a hillside over Turtle Creek.  The building is constructed from reinforced concrete, and is considered to have wonderful acoustics.  This comes from Wright’s own interest in the science and theory of acoustics.  The theater also features a revolving stage.  My favorite element of the theater is how the audience wraps around the stage.  Every performance at the theater feels like an intimate gathering.

Katherine and Ann’s presentations have opened my eyes to a new way of looking at buildings in Dallas.  I encourage you to spend Mother’s Day weekend at the DMA to learn more about Wright and Stickley.  Examine the drawings in Line and Form: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Wasmuth Portfolio and spend time marvelling at the beauty of Craftsman designs during the closing weekend of Gustav Stickley and the American Arts and Crafts Movement.

Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent Programs and Gallery Teaching

Artfully Green

Reduce, reuse, and recycle. As Earth Day rolls around, we’re reminded of our impact on the environment. But what are we doing at the Dallas Museum of Art to be green? Uncrated went on a search to find out.

Each year, over half a million visitors step through the Museum’s doors, and our large building is 500,000 square feet, taking up two city blocks in downtown Dallas. Our global collections span over 24,000 works of art, and we produce an average of eighteen exhibitions each year. We have an underground parking garage, a cafe, a store, and over two hundred employees.

With this large footprint, we were excited to find out about some long-standing practices and a few new ones that the DMA is using to reduce its impact on the environment:

  • Three years ago, The City of Dallas and the DMA retrofitted the building’s entire energy management systems in order enhance energy efficiency. Efforts included replacing our boiler and chillers, adding eco-friendly light bulbs, low flow toilets and water fixtures throughout the museum. As a result, utility consumption has been reduced over 50%.
  •  The Museum has a water management system throughout the building. It is a smart system with rain sensors for our hardscape and landscaping.
  •  We added healthier, more drought-tolerant trees along the Museum bordering St. Paul Street.
  •  All chemicals and cleaning agents used at the DMA are eco-friendly.
  •  DMA employees are offered a discount to ride the DART system to work. There is a bicycle rack located on Ross Avenue Plaza.
  •  When layouts of our galleries are changed for new exhibitions, we reuse studs and building materials. All crates and art packing materials are reused and/or recycled.
  •  The DMA participates in a recycling program with the City of Dallas. The profits the City makes are sent into the general fund for City programs such as Park and Recreation projects and Fire Department equipment.
  •  All copy paper used at the Museum has a minimum of 30% post-consumer waste content.
  •  All of the printed materials produced by our Creative Services team are printed on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper, using an FSC-certified paper distributor, and 95% of the commercial printing (100% local) that the Museum does uses an FSC-certified printer.
  •  The admission tags that visitors receive when they visit the DMA are collected and reused. Look for boxes at the Visitor Services Desk to recycle your tag when leaving.
  •  The Museum Store features products from many local artists and craftsman and also has a wide variety of eco-friendly products.
  • Our cafe uses compostable or biodegradable disposable containers and recycles all plastic, glass bottles, paper, cardboard, wine corks, and cooking oils. This summer, we will begin working with a food composting company.
  •  The cafe menu consists of locally purchased organic produce, sourcing through local vendors within a two hundred-mile radius. Soon, the cafe will implement new infused water stations and glass-bottled waters, phasing out plastic-bottled water.

The DMA is working with the U.S. Green Building Council to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for these efforts. We hope to have our designation by August 2011.

For a selection of works on view at the Museum that incorporate recycled materials, visit our sister blog, We Art Family, for their Earth Day post. And for eco-friendly activities, emerging green technology, and thought-provoking ways to think, work, and live green in Dallas, join us today and tomorrow in the downtown Dallas Arts District for the free Earth Day Dallas Festival (the DMA will have FREE admission on Saturday, April 23, 2011!). To reduce your carbon footprint, ride DART to Pearl Station and walk to the Arts District.

Happy EARTH Day!

Mandy Engleman is the Director of Creative Services at the Dallas Museum of Art

Trade before Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Have you ever wondered how goods and services, such as spices, fabrics, and art, traveled from one part of the world to another before the use of planes, trains, and automobiles?  The Silk Road provides a great insight for understanding early trading among different countries. It is the most well-known trading route of ancient Chinese civilization that was used during the first millennium B.C.E through the middle of the second millennium C.E under the Han Dynasty. The Silk Road was a transcontinental network of land and sea trade routes that spread across Eurasia from the Mediterranean to China and Japan. Domesticated horses and cattle as well as marine vessels were used as transportation to carry such goods and services along these routes.

Dr. Anne Bromberg, The Cecil and Ida Green Curator of Ancient and Asian Art, organized The Silk Road, an installation which illustrates how this great route of trading developed.  This exhibition also describes the spread of religions from India to Central Asia during this time. One of the greatest benefits of the Silk Road that Dr. Bromberg wanted to emphasize was the spread of agriculture. Animals not only provided transportation, but they also provided food and a mechanism for cultivating crops.


 Oxen and Cart, 2000-1800 B.C., Bronze
Dallas Museum of Art, Irvin L. and Meryl P. Levy Endowment Fund

A great deal of Near Eastern art similar to the Oxen and Cart traveled along the Silk Road. The Proto-Hittites were devoted to animals, which were vital to hunting and farming. Objects such as the Oxen and Cart were perhaps used as an offering to be left in a shrine, sacred caches or tomb. In addition,  the Oxen and Cart symbolizes the distinct moment when domesticated horses or cattle were first used as powered transportation on land.

The Silk Road provides a great opportunity to discuss with students the benefits and consequences of trading among different cultures. I’ve added a list of books and websites that will help you introduce the Silk Road to your students. These books and more can be found at the Dallas Public Library or the Museum’s Mayer Library.

Stories From The Silk Road by Cherry Gilchrist and Nilesh Mistry
The Silk Route: 7,000 Miles of History by John S. Major and Stephen Fieser
Mapping the Silk Road and Beyond by Kenneth Nebenzahl
Adventures on the Ancient Silk Road by Priscilla Galloway and Dawn Hunter
Silk Road: Monks, Warriors & Merchants by Luce Boulnois and Helen Loveday

the Silk Road project:

Silk Road Seattle:

Karen A. Colbert
Teaching Programs Intern

Designing Stickley

Hello, everyone! DMA resident exhibition designer Jessica Harden here to give you a short and sweet behind-the-scenes snapshot of where some of our inspiration for exhibition design comes from. The Gustav Stickley exhibition was fun to work on because I had lots of great resources, including original photographs and The Craftsman catalogues, which Stickley published with drawings of many of his architectural and interior designs and finishes . . .

as well as records of popular colors of the time. We chose paint colors for the exhibition based on the Sherwin-Williams Arts & Crafts palette. BTW, drawing up plans for the exhibition is also part of my job . . .

as is producing construction drawings.

But back to inspiration and resources—this is a photograph of a model dining room created to show Stickley’s furniture in 1903.

. . . and this is our gallery at the DMA that we designed and built to replicate the original.

In fact, if you look around the Gustav Stickley exhibition galleries, you might notice a number of details that were inspired by Stickley’s original designs. Here, we were inspired by how Stickley used interior cut-outs to define spaces and create interesting thresholds to transition from one room to the next.

We also took inspiration from Stickley’s use of simple trim work on walls to help us define spaces and create a more residential environment for the exhibition. This included using a cap rail to imply a lower ceiling height in our 14-foot-high exhibition galleries.

And just to have a little fun, we took a few chances to let visitors discover glimpses of upcoming galleries and objects along the way.

Even some of the smallest details of the exhibition were inspired by Stickley. Here you can see that the mount for this lamp was modeled after drawings from Stickley interiors and was fabricated by our extremely talented preparators and carpentry staff. They even made new heads for the screws to match the originals!

Gustav Stickley and the American Arts & Crafts Movement is on view at the Dallas Museum of Art until May 8, when it will travel to San Diego to open on June 18.

Jessica Harden is Exhibition Design Coordinator at the Dallas Museum of Art.

20/20 at the DMA

We have reached 20,000 fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter! To thank every one of you we are offering 20% off adult general admission and 20% off new memberships*  from 11:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 21, 2011. Just tell the Visitor Services Desk, or visit the Membership desk on Level 1, that you follow the DMA on Facebook or Twitter to get your 20% discount.

* not available with any other offer

First grade's smartest artists

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Last month, four volunteers and I piled into the Go van Gogh van and drove south of downtown to Rosemont Primary, a DISD PK-2 school in Oak Cliff.

While Rosemont Primary is just one of the many campuses we visit with the Go van Gogh outreach program, we have a special relationship with their first grade teachers.  Each year, we visit the first grade at Rosemont, presenting multiple programs in all eight classrooms and getting to know the students during our many visits.  Through the years, the first graders at Rosemont have played a larger role in the Go van Gogh program than they might realize; Go van Gogh staff often takes newly-developed curricula into their classrooms.  We test questions, gauge response during activities, and (most importantly) make sure that we’ve packaged an experience that’s fun, engaging, and relevant for the students.  Go van Gogh staff is grateful to our first grade friends at Rosemont for the smart observations, unexpected answers, and funny moments that have helped us refine curricula, ensuring that our programs are solid.

Needless to say, we were pretty excited to return to Rosemont last month with the Me & My World programMe & My World introduces first graders to people and places in art through stories and clues.  The program features four artworks, and our conversations range from talking about families while looking at Mary Cassatt’s Sleepy Baby to thinking about heroes while looking at our Greek Gold Wreath.  Students create an art activity inspired by another artwork in the program, Fernand Leger’s The Divers, drawing a picture on transparency film with a Sharpie, and layering it on top of a bright collage of shapes.

Photos from our fun morning at Rosemont, featuring the little artists and their creations, are above.


Amy Copeland
Coordinator of Go van Gogh Outreach


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