Archive for the 'Museum Insight' Category

The Barrel Vault’s New Look

Haute couture heaven has arrived at the DMA, and it’s here for fashionistas to feast their eyes on throughout the summer. From the moment you enter Dior: From Paris to the World, there is no shortage of “wow” moments around every corner—luxurious vintage looks dating back to the 1940s, impeccably white toiles hanging high under a mirrored ceiling, a cathedral-like wall displaying dresses worn by iconic celebrities—all of which are made even more magnificent by the space in which they are presented.

If you’ve visited the Museum some months ago, you may remember the last presentation that was held in the Barrel Vault, An Enduring Legacy. From then to now, the space has completely transformed. See for yourself:

Installation photo of An Enduring Legacy: The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Collection of Impressionist and Modern Art
Installation photo of Dior: From Paris to the World, courtesy of James Florio

To gain some behind-the-scenes insights about the making of this exhibition, I asked Skye Malish-Olson, Exhibition Designer, and Jaclyn Le, Senior Graphic Designer, some questions about what it was like working on this show.

How does Dior compare to other DMA exhibitions you’ve worked on?
Skye: This was different from other exhibitions, where the whole team is DMA staff. In my role as designer, typically I work directly with representatives of each DMA department and with the curator to understand their vision in order to translate it to a physical exhibition presentation. In this case, designers from OMA (Office of Metropolitan Architecture) created the experience of the space in collaboration with Dior. OMA also designed the exhibition for the Denver Art Museum (DAM), the show’s previous venue, but they designed a very different experience for each institution because the architecture of the two museums is so different. One thing that was important was that visitors would move from one gallery to the next in a prescribed path, not the open-ended grid of galleries that our Barrel Vault and Quads typically provide. To create this pathway, while using the full height of the existing architecture, OMA totally changed the space with a full architectural intervention, re-imagining the physical possibilities of this gallery.

Jaclyn: I had to make sure that all environmental graphics and wayfinding were consistent throughout all locations of the exhibition. Dior is also different from other exhibitions I’ve worked on because I typically create the exhibition identity and environmental graphics for our exhibitions in collaboration with the curator and our internal team. In this case, I worked with Dior’s identity, OMA’s concept direction, and design assets from DAM, and many more stakeholders were involved in the approval of all the exhibition and interpretive graphics.

Were there any aspects of this exhibition that you worked on most?
Skye: I worked between OMA’s concept, our internal team, and external fabricators and contractors to help make this conceptual vision a physical reality. With our DMA team leading the planning process, it was a big challenge to pull this off with so many stakeholders in multiple locations. It was a truly ambitious design that required a lot of troubleshooting and multiple rounds of specifying materials.

Jaclyn: Following OMA’s concepts and some of the exhibition graphics from DAM, and working with our internal team, I was involved in all of the components of the exhibition environmental graphics and interpretation graphics. Everything from handling the Concourse mural of Christian Dior’s sketches, manipulating the façade design of Dior’s Atelier Design House to fit the arched entrance to our exhibition, and designing the headers for each gallery, the exhibition map, wayfinding, and labels and identification numbers. It took a lot of coordination between the various teams and vendors, and taking mock-ups of all the designs into the galleries to get a feel for how all the graphics would play in the space.

What was the biggest challenge in the exhibition graphic design or in transforming this space?
Skye: With all of the complex and impressive design elements, the biggest challenge actually turned out to be the lighting. Each piece needs to be properly lit from multiple angles, something that needed to be built in to the infrastructure, especially in places with high ceilings or in recessed areas.

Jaclyn: The biggest challenge was probably the Concourse mural of Christian Dior’s historic sketches. It was challenging because I was working with scans of his beautiful drawings, and I wanted to keep their organic quality when reproducing them as larger-than-life graphics. Our Concourse walls are long and angled, and I had to make sure that the layout of dresses fit nicely down the length of the Concourse.

Which is your favorite room or section of the show?
Jaclyn: I really love the Creative Director galleries. Each creative director had such a distinct vision and I enjoy seeing their inspirations, mood boards, sketches, and completed works all together and showcased in such a beautiful way.

Skye: My favorite space is the Office of Dreams. I love the simple, clean construction of the space, which mirrors the clean construction of the toiles. Seeing the handwork that designed these incredible garments in three dimensions creates such a direct connection to the artful process of their creation.

Images courtesy of James Florio

Any other hidden gems or interesting tidbits about this space?
Skye: The top 40 feet of mirror at the back of the Barrel Vault is actually a stretched mirror fabric that is incredibly lightweight.

Describe this space in three words.
Jaclyn: Innovative, magnificent, magical.
Skye: Transformed, complex, impressive.

Visitors can be dazzled by Dior: From Paris to the World at the DMA now through September 1. Timed tickets are required for all visitors and must be purchased or reserved in advance. Check out our FAQ page for more information, and we hope you enjoy the show!

Hayley Caldwell is the Copy and Content Marketing Writer at the DMA.

C3 Summer Intern Recap: Abigail

Hi, my name is Abigail Hofbauer– intern, chocolate lab puppy aficionado, sushi-lover, and new Dallasite. I’m currently in graduate school at Baylor University for my Masters of Arts in Museum Studies, having just completed my Bachelor’s (also at Baylor!) in History.

This summer, I had the chance to intern with the Center for Creative Connections at the DMA. I worked on many things over the summer: daily C3 upkeep, interactions with volunteers, and the newest Visiting Artist Project. Lisa Huffaker’s Sound re:Vision opened my eyes to the hard work behind the scenes of all interactive art installations. It was fun to create zines and to have part ownership of such an interesting piece in the Museum.

As the C3 Summer Intern, my specific project was to observe and evaluate the visitor experience of the Pop-up Art Spot inspired by the Keir Collection of Islamic Art. Through surveys, personal interactions, and simple observations, visitors provided some detailed feedback about what they want in a “pop-up experience” at a museum. Our goal was to make sure visitors were spending time with the art collections, making connections with the art and others in their group, and having fun in the Museum! If the results of my observations are any indicator, I’d say that we reached our goal.

Most of the visitors came in groups – both families and adults. Almost all of these groups spent time in the Keir Collection of Islamic Art either before, during, or after their activity. It was important to confirm this and show the Pop-up Art Spot was making a connection between the art and visitors. The majority of the visitors who participated in the Pop-up Art Spot activities were also adults, rather than children. This was a great piece of information to glean, as it shows how diverse yet simple activities appeal to all ages. Teens and adults above age 45 are some audiences to focus on in future activities.

The coloring and shape search activities were very popular, but the cross-cultural connection postcard activity really touched the hearts of our visitors. Some responses were so heartfelt and interesting! In the surveys taken, visitors indicated that they felt connected, proud, inspired, and excited to spend time with art. Many also indicated that there was a larger social impact of the activities on their visit: some learned about shapes, colors, patterns, or other visitors! We had 73 activities filled out and 183 participants throughout the month of July.

Here are three of my favorite responses from the postcard activity:

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Overall, this project was so fulfilling! I got firsthand knowledge of the visitors at the DMA. I also got to work closely with some amazing volunteers and see how they help educational programs shine. But most important of all, I used skills I learned from classes and previous experience to improve museum programming. This internship has allowed me to be part of so many experiences at the DMA and learn from the amazing Education team. It’s been an honor and I couldn’t have been happier to be here for the summer!

Abigail Hofbauer
Center for Creative Connections Intern

The Student Becomes the Master

Summer art camp interns play many roles during their time at the DMA: teaching assistant, museum navigator, problem solver, carpool coordinator, bathroom trip taker, funny face maker, and–most importantly–friend to all campers! This year, we added three exciting new roles to their list: researcher, lesson writer, and teacher. For the first time, in teams and under the supervision of DMA staff, our 2017 summer art camp interns researched, wrote, and taught their very own summer camps.

These interns had six weeks to plan their camps, collecting ideas and teaching tricks from other camps and teachers they worked with along the way. We provided them with basic themes to start from, but from that point on their camps were entirely their own, from the works of art they focused on to the projects they made in the studio. They taught techniques, guided campers in looking and talking about art, and–like every good teacher–improvised when things didn’t go according to plan.

Without further ado, allow me to introduce our two teaching teams: Team Sense-sational Art and Team Portrait Party!

Team Sense-sational Art: Sharidyn Barnes, Jenna Buckley, and Mary Judge

Team Sense-sational Art was tasked with planning a camp all about art and the five senses for a group of children ages 6-8. They divided and conquered, each taking on one or two senses and planning a day around it. Sharidyn found she had a knack for getting into the why and how of art-making, Jenna dazzled with her knowledge of art history and fun facts about the collection, and Mary ignited campers’ imaginations with dramatic storytelling and gallery exploration.

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Team Portrait Party: Madeline Bumpass and Paige Alexander

Team Portrait Party planned a camp focused on portraits throughout the ages, from Roman busts to modern-day selfies, for a group of girls ages 9-12. Madeline and Paige worked together on each of the days, taking turns leading conversations in the galleries and getting elbows-deep in clay, paint, and fabric in the studio. It was a week of singing (lots of Disney and Taylor Swift), masterpiece-making, joke-cracking, and serious fun.

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Now that their camps are done and their internships have concluded, Jenna, Mary, Sharidyn, Madeline, and Paige are wrapping up their summer vacations, heading back to another year at college, and who knows – maybe one or two are on their way to a career in museum education! Congratulations on a job well done, ladies!

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Jennifer Sheppard
Teaching Specialist

Rising Stars

AT&T Stadium

As this year’s McDermott Interns wind down their time with us here at the Museum, I wanted take a moment to look back at all they’ve accomplished over the past eight + months–A LOT!

Gallery Talks

Each has researched works in our collection and presented a bite of insight over the lunch hour for our adult visitors during Gallery Talks. Our final intern talk will be this Wednesday at 12:15 pm with Marta–don’t miss it!

Blog Posts

They’ve written clever, informative posts on both of our blogs, Canvas and Uncrated. Angela even started a video series to give us a more in depth peek into intern life here at the Museum.

Professional Development

They’ve utilized their professional development funding to attend conferences, meet with colleagues, visit museums, and learn about opportunities for their future across the U.S., from L.A. to St. Louis to Maryland and beyond. Grace and Angela shared their experiences with us on here on Canvas as well.

Projects

Not only have they contributed countless hours of research toward the DMA collection, future exhibitions, and program planning, but they’ve also produced some exciting activities you can check out right now! Amy curated Multiple Selves, a small exhibition of works on paper which can be found in our Level 2 European Galleries, and Sara devised the plot for our upcoming Museum Murder Mystery. These are just a few examples–the whole list of each of their contributions would be much too long for one post!

Field Trips

And of course, they had some fun visiting artworks and collections across the Metroplex!

With plans to head off to grad school, embark on careers in museums and the arts, or even help us here at the DMA through the summer, we know these lovely ladies will see much success in their futures. We sure will miss them but are so excited to find out all the places they’ll go!

Sarah Coffey
Education Coordinator

Staff Spotlight: Rose Davis

When you find yourself in a room with Rose Davis, it is clear that she is not someone who goes unnoticed. She is warm and charismatic, a person who naturally bonds with a wide range of visitors and staff at the Museum. While it’s her job to observe visitors and make sure they engage with artwork safely, Rose often goes the extra mile and offers her own special discoveries and insights into the Museum’s collection.

Rose with The Icebergs, Frederic Edwin Church, 1861, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Norma and Lamar Hunt

Rose has been a gallery attendant at the DMA for only 10 months, but in that time she’s grown very fond of one work of art in particular, The Icebergs by Frederic Edwin Church. About a month ago, during a walk through of the 4th floor galleries, Rose engaged me in a conversation about The Icebergs. She asked us if we’d ever noticed the hidden figures in the painting. Rose excitedly told us about her growing collection of hidden characters in the painting, noting to us that she is continually discovering more as she spends more time with the piece.

Two weeks later, I came back to The Icebergs with Rose and asked her to walk me through each hidden figure she’d discovered. Her first discovery was the gorilla. Then one day when the gallery was empty, she took her first “closer look” and the rest snowballed: a mermaid, a mummy, animals, faces in the ice, and many more. With some laughter in her voice she explained to me that when she first began sharing her discoveries with others, they were skeptical of her, but as soon as they could find one figure in the painting they’d be itching to find another. Below are some of my favorites she shared with us (which I’ve outlined in red). What hidden images will you discover when you look closely at The Icebergs?

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We often think of gallery attendants as people who protect works of art by keeping us from getting too close, but as I’ve learned from Rose, you can “get close” to art in different ways, like absorbing the little details in a painting. Gallery attendants spend a lot of time with our permanent collection, so don’t be shy! Next time you’re exploring our galleries, say hello and ask them what they know. The answers might surprise you!

A visitor’s post-it note about Rose left at our Testing Zone, which currently highlights various writing styles for The Icebergs wall text.

Kerry Butcher
Center for Creative Connections Coordinator

Friday Photos: Intern Tips

About four weeks ago, I left my home city of Los Angeles to embark on a new adventure in Dallas. Now, here I am, settled into my McDermott Internship at the Dallas Museum of Art! So, I wanted to share five tips of knowledge gathered in my four weeks of working here.

2016 McDermott Interns

1. Be on time.

I’m going to be brutally honest with you. I was late on my first day. I had my lame excuses, sure (*ahem* DART) – but nothing is worse than showing up a little pink in the cheeks and frazzled in the mind. Do your research the night before and block time in your first morning schedule for potential mishaps.

2. Be brave.

On my first day as an intern, I met loads and loads of people. They looked smart. They looked professional. They looked like they have been adulting for quite some time now. Even though I may have been the newest fish in the sea, I tried my best to be brave enough to ask my questions and make my shiny and new presence known.

DMA’s Multimedia Producer, Gregory Castillo  & me

3. Dress the part.

You’ll not only look professional but also feel more professional (and thus, confident) knowing that you are dressed to the same par as your (possibly more-adult) peers.

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4. Get to know your work environment.

Explore your new work-home while it’s still okay to look a little lost and slightly confused. Be aware of your surrounding and make a mental map of it all.

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Alfred.

5. Be you.

Even though this may be one of my first work ventures, I still feel my best when I am being organically me. Thus, I still am me: unfortunate jokes, crafty(ish) desk décor and all.

Here’s to many, many more weeks of lessons learned and tips to give!

Angela Medrano
McDermott Intern for Gallery and Community Teaching

The Art of Being an Intern

Finalizing designs with the SDCC teens.

Finalizing designs with the SDCC teens.

Hello everyone! My name is Mariana Gonzalez and for the past eight weeks, I have interned with the Museum’s Education Department as part of the Mayors Intern Fellows Program. The program is highly competitive because it offers 350 students (over 1,000 students applied!) the opportunity to gain real world experience at an eight-week long internship. I am about to begin my senior year at Richland Collegiate High School. It is a charter school in Dallas where I am set to earn my Associates Degree in Science and my high school diploma this coming spring. I aspire to be a well-recognized artist someday and plan to continue my studies with a Bachelors in Studio Art.

Much of my job here as an intern for the Education Department involved getting dirty with many diverse groups of kids. I worked in the C3 Studio on some days and other days I was on the move with the Go van Gogh program! We created works of art and hosted all kinds of camps for the kiddos from fashion camp to a cosplay camp. Every day was completely different. I also had the opportunity to help guide a teacher forum. I essentially taught teachers about teaching art. From doing craft projects to visiting a few exhibitions, these teachers were offered the finest of opportunities to learn all about how we do things here at the DMA.

One of my favorite partnerships happened with the South Dallas Cultural Center. The Go van Gogh program and teens from the SDCC banded together to create temporary street art with duct tape. We began with marshmallow ice breakers, finding inspiration from artists like Banksy, and sketching out various designs. We outlined our ideas in chalk and finally worked the duct tape into the concrete to create street art. The entire experience was mind blowing –who would’ve thought we could make art on concrete out of non-expensive tape? These brilliant teens innovated my manner of thinking and that lesson will always stick with me.

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When I was little, my mother taught me about many things, but no amount of preaching on her behalf could have taught me what I learned from the kids at the DMA. Working with such a vast amount of children allowed me to realize how much I enjoy their company. They are all young, vibrant, and honest. Something I looked forward to every single day of my internship. Overall, my internship transformed my summer into a memorable experience. I am forever in debt to my supervisor and all of the wonderful people who helped guide me on this fantastic journey of learning and teaching at the DMA. I even had the opportunity to be featured on The Dallas Morning News!

Mariana Gonzalez
Mayor’s Intern Fellow


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