Friday, December 19, 2008

Coming Attractions

The museum may be closed for renovation and expansion, but the staff here are incredibly busy sending out loan letters and making arrangements for the traveling exhibitions we are organizing for after we reopen in 2010.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Brown and Silver: Old Battersea Bridge, 1859-1863, oil on canvas mounted on masonite, gift of Cornelius N. Bliss, Addison Gallery of American ArtOpening at the Addison on September 7, 2010 is Whistler's Bridge: The Battersea Bridge in the Art of James McNeill Whistler. The show will focus on the subject of Old Battersea Bridge (see right) as Whistler interpreted it in a series of paintings, prints, and drawings. The show will include approximately sixty-five objects, including paintings, prints, several drawings and watercolors, and photographs. The show will then travel to our co-organizer, the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, opening there on January 11, 2011.

One week later, Sheila Hicks: 50 Years will open. The show marks the first museum retrospective devoted to this artist. Hicks is a pioneering figure noted for objects and public commissions whose structures are built of color and fiber. The plans for the show include installation pieces gracing the Addison's galleries and main stairwell. It will travel to several venues, including the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania where it will open in the winter of 2011.

David Smith, Structure of Arches, 1939, steel with zinc and copper plating, purchased as the gift of Mr. and Mrs. R. Crosby Kemper (PA 1945), Addison Gallery of American Art, ©2006 The Estate of David Smith, licensed by VAGA, New York, NYAfter opening at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas on October 30, 2010, Maverick Modernists: John Graham, Stuart Davis, Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, and Their Circle will open at the Addison on April 29, 2011. This show will focus on the formative years of some of America’s most inventive and important painters and sculptors of the 20th century, including David Smith (see left), who dramatically transformed conceptions of what a painting or sculpture could be. The show will then travel to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art opening there in the fall of 2011.

Stay tuned to and right here to Blog Addison for updates on these new shows and our plans for the coming years!

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Loopy Doopy

As you may know, Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective recently opened at MASS MOCA in North Adams, Massachusetts. Organized by the Yale University Art Gallery, MASS MOCA, and the Williams College Museum of Art, the exhibition includes 105 of LeWitt’s large-scale wall drawings, spanning the artist’s career from 1969 to 2007, and also includes the Addison’s Wall Drawing 880 (Loopy Doopy).

From 1968 to 2007, LeWitt realized 1,261 wall drawings, ten of which are in the Addison’s permanent collection. In a 1981 interview with independent curator Andrea Miller-Keller, LeWitt said:

A blind man can make art if what is in his mind can be passed to another mind in some tangible form.

Created by taping two pencils together and twisting them across the paper to form an undulating pattern, Loopy Doopy took just under two months, from June 13th to August 11th, 2008, to finish. The resulting curvy lines in orange and green offer a psychedelic experience of color, line, and two-dimensionality. MASS MOCA went to great lengths to record this process as seen in the hourly video footage for wall drawing on their website. Click here:

And to think, this meticulous amount of artistic creation (and documentation) went into another 104 wall drawings!

Wall Drawing 880 (Loopy Doopy) was first exhibited in a wall drawings show at PaceWildenstein in 1998 and later in Sol LeWitt: Recent Acquistions at the Addison in 2003 (as seen below).

Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective will be on view at MASS MOCA through 2033! Put this exhibition on the top of your list to visit…you will not be disappointed. Multiple visits will definitely be necessary to fully digest its artistic depth and physical scale of this multi-floor installation as well as Sol LeWitt’s contribution to art history.

Posted by Jaime DeSimone, Charles H. Sawyer Curatorial Fellow

Monday, November 24, 2008

An Epic Adventure: Venice to Fort Lauderdale, Part III

For Part I of this story, click here. For Part II, click here.

On day three of the trip, I met our massive freight plane at Luxembourg Airport. Our palletized crates were being loaded into the belly of the craft through gaping hatches in its nose and sides. I climbed up several steep ladders to the top where the small passenger cabin was located behind the cockpit. Other than the crew, I would be the plane’s only passenger for the trip.

Though the weather was perfect, our flight left late due to a weight distribution issue encountered while loading the cargo. I chuckled to myself: weight, once again, was causing me delay. A strong headwind extended the flight itself to more than ten hours, and we didn’t arrive in Miami until after 10:30PM EST.

After nearly choking on the hot, sticky Floridian air, I went through customs, and, once our crates were off-loaded from the plane and removed from their pallets, again, using a variety of large forklifts, I watched them loaded onto trucks for the forty-five minute trip to the Museum of Art-Fort Lauderdale. There I was met by the museum’s bleary-eyed crew and we off-loaded the crates from the trucks and finally deposited them safely in their exhibition gallery. We finished at 2:30AM, twenty-five hours since I woke up that morning and seventy-three hours after I had left Venice.

I reported to the museum the next day and, over several days, we unpacked the artwork, checked its condition, laid out the show, and installed the paintings on the walls and the sculpture on pedestals (see above and right). The artwork had made it without any damage, testament to the well-built crates and the careful handling by all who moved them. Everything was set for the opening on November 6th.

While this marked the end of this adventure, this was not the end of the show. Coming of Age: American Art, 1850s to 1950s will be traveling to Canada to the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec in Québec City next year and that transport will present a whole new set of challenges. But, for now, my work was done, and I flew back to Boston knowing our collection was in excellent hands in Florida.

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Message from Brian Allen

A Message from Brian Allen, Addison Gallery Director

These are indeed extraordinary times for the Addison and the museum world. I am writing to you today to offer some thoughts on what is happening at the Addison in the context of our country's - and the world's - challenging and indeed perilous economic conditions.

It is obvious that everyone is affected. As Barbara Chase correctly observed in her recent good report to Phillips Academy alumni, students, faculty, staff, and parents - in this climate there is really no place to hide. The Addison is not immune to these challenges, and the Gallery as I see it will be affected in five basic ways:

1. Our endowment is part of the school’s, and though the school’s endowment has dropped less than most, the income available to the Addison will nonetheless drop. About 55 percent of our revenue comes from this source, with our drawdown based on a rolling average of thirteen quarters. While this affords us some cushion, the Addison will feel the impact of this drop in the endowment for some time to come.

2. A substantial portion of our annual income comes each fiscal year from gifts from individuals and foundations. We recently sent out our first appeal. Again, I know that everyone is affected. Giving to the arts will most likely suffer. A museum director has to be an optimist to succeed, however. Our donor base is loyal. The Addison “cause” is of the very highest quality. The letter makes a strong case for support.

3. There is a large hole in the ground on the Addison site with construction workers busily producing an expanded, renovated building. We are fortunate that we achieved over eighty percent of our construction goal before the onset of the financial crisis. Though Addison supporters have been generous, we still have $8.5 million of our $30 million construction and endowment goal to go. Again, our donor base is strong. It might take us longer but ultimately we will reach our target.

4. The Addison partners with many institutions as we send our traveling shows out to the world. I made a tally a few weeks ago that surprised even me - our Addison organized shows have traveled to over 40 cities in America, Europe, and even Australia over the last few years. When our shows travel, we get rental income that pays the cost of assembling them. Our exhibition schedule is planned through the spring of 2012, and almost all of the traveling slots for our shows are filled. This is a tribute to the quality of our exhibitions - people in other museums are enthusiastic about taking our shows. Again, I come back to my recurring theme that everyone is affected. Many museums will suffer badly as the economic crisis unfolds. It is not inconceivable that one of our partners will cancel programming for financial reasons, leaving us with a gap in expected income as well as a hole in our traveling exhibition schedule. I am working to minimize this chance by partnering only with institutions that historically have been financially stable.

5. Like every other department of Phillips Academy, the Addison will reduce its budget by 2 percent. Earlier I described myself as an optimist but in one thing I am decidedly pessimistic. I think the economic downturn will be deep and will last quite a long time. The staff and I here at the Gallery will look not only at reductions allowing us to comply with the 2 percent guideline set by the school, but we will also look at everything we do with the belief that changes we make now will prevent more painful changes later. If we do not realize our annual appeal expectations, we will have to reduce more. All of us have to understand and accept that there will be some things we hope and want to do that we will not be able to do under current circumstances.

The Addison will weather this storm. On this, I am a most passionate and committed optimist. Our collection continues to grow. Donors continue to support us with gifts of money and art. We are producing exciting shows and catalogues. New donors are supporting us, and we are keeping in touch with our longtime donors. The Addison will be here serving students, artists, connoisseurs, and lovers of art for many, many years to come. For all the economic troubles at our door step and the world’s, the Addison has much for which to be thankful: the progress we have made in our campaign, the great reception our shows receive when they travel, and the continuing support and warm wishes of our friends and the audience we serve.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Update on the Addison Renovation and Expansion

Construction on the Addison's renovation and addition is proceeding well as the rush is on to get as much done before the freezing temperatures and winter weather set in.

Outside, the entire area around the Addison has become a construction zone. Concrete has been poured to form the footings and walls of the addition's first level (see left, click on images to make them larger). Holes have been cut into the facade to accommodate the new handicapped accessible elevator while various windows slated to be removed have
been blocked off.

Inside, the old bathrooms have been demolished and the new ones are being piped. Walls that once separated rooms on the basement and main floors have been removed and are being rebuilt according to the new plans. The old elevator has been removed and the shaft expanded to accommodate a larger one capable of lifting our largest objects to all levels of the museum. The door to our new library space is being expanded (see right). Its marble trim will be switched with the trim for the smaller doorway to our education office. The wall that created an office space in our first floor back gallery is gone, restoring the space to its original size. A lively crew of construction workers are crawling throughout the site and it seems as if every inch of the original building is covered to protect the finishes from damage during the renovation.

The spaces in the Elson Art Center are being reconfigured to accommodate an entrance to our new Museum Learning Center (at left, the new rendering). With the footings in place and areas of the existing building reconfigured, we can begin to see how our addition will connect with and complement the original museum. We are also amazed to see how much has happened in such a short period and realize that our targeted completion date of Spring, 2010 is coming quickly!

Be sure to check in at our website for regular updates on the construction process as we count down the days to our reopening!

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

Thursday, November 13, 2008

An Epic Adventure: Venice to Fort Lauderdale, Part II

For Part I of this story, click here.

What should have been an eight hour trip became thirteen. We left the Swiss border and drove out of the Alps, trucked across northern Italy, cut back up north around Turin, and headed into the Alps again. We drove through tunnel after tunnel, each one longer than the last, until we finally stopped at Mont Blanc (see left). Because we had a refrigerated truck, we had to wait for an escort vehicle to take us through the 11.6 km tunnel underneath. Once we were through we were finally in France. All we had to do was pay a fee to pass…it was nothing like the Swiss checkpoint.

We arrived at the high-security art storage warehouse in Lyon around 9:00PM and parked the truck completely inside. The next morning, we were back on the road by 7:30AM dealing with horrific rush-hour traffic in pouring rain. We drove another eight hours through gorgeous French countryside of rolling green farmland dotted with sleepy cows. We finally crossed the border into Luxembourg around 3:30PM, which was as eventful as crossing from Massachusetts into New Hampshire: no manned checkpoint and no stopping. We were at the cargo terminal at Luxembourg airport in no time.

One of the challenges in arranging art transport is finding the best way to get the artwork to its next destination as directly as possible. In this case, due to the size of our crates, we required a large freight plane, and the only plane large enough that flew directly to Miami closest to Venice was in Luxembourg. Soon, though, we had offloaded the truck and I gave my Italian drivers a fond farewell before they left on their long ride back to Italy.

Using a variety of large forklifts, the air cargo crew efficiently, but carefully, loaded our crates onto large, thin airline palettes. Once everything was strapped down, a huge machine then picked up the palettes and deposited them into their fully-automated warehouse facility where they would sit at in a climatized environment until they were loaded on the plane the following day.

Stay tuned for part three, posting soon on Blog Addison!

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

An Epic Adventure: Venice to Fort Lauderdale, Part I

Our traveling exhibition Coming of Age: American Art, 1850s to 1950s opens Thursday, November 6th at the Museum of Art-Fort Lauderdale. As with every traveling show, there are many challenges involved in transporting the artwork where it needs to go, unpacking it, and installing it. This show was no exception. I had the privilege of accompanying part of it from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection (see left) in Venice, Italy to Florida, and it definitely became an epic adventure full of challenges.

The show is transported between venues in multiple shipments with a courier on board. My shipment, a three day trip, was to be trucked from Venice to Luxembourg with an overnight stop in Switzerland. From Luxembourg, a freight plane would take the show to Miami where it would then be trucked to Fort Lauderdale.

On the first day, at 6:45AM, I met my part of the show at our Italian art transporter’s warehouse facility outside of Venice. The show had already been packed and brought there. The crates were loaded on the truck and I met my drivers for the trip. Neither spoke English and my own Italian was rudimentary. As the drivers double-checked the paperwork, a tiny little Italian/English dictionary bounced out of the truck. I handed it back to them, not knowing then how important that book would become.

With a sprinkle in the air, we left on our journey. Our route took us to Milan before we turned north. We hit the Alps around lunch time and approached the Swiss border north of Lake Como (see right). After several checkpoints and approvals, we drove the truck up to the window of the final checkpoint and passed our paperwork to a clerk inside.

The clerk shook her head and from her broken Italian I understood her to tell us to take the truck back around to a weighing station. We backed up and drove the truck to the scale. After many long minutes, we learned, “C’è un problema.” Using the little dictionary to help translate, I figured out there was a very minor discrepancy in our paperwork regarding the weight of the truck. The Swiss, ever-precise, were not going to let us through.

After checking with our transporter’s main office, it was determined that we were going to reroute our truck around Switzerland and go through France instead. We would overnight in Lyon and head to Luxembourg from there. It would take a bit longer, but the paperwork would not be a problem at the French border. So, with reluctance, we turned the truck around and headed out the way we came: back to Italy…then on to France.

Stay tuned for part two, posting soon on Blog Addison!

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

Monday, October 27, 2008

Photography Study Studio

Our Photography Study Studio is up and running! We have the capability to pull photographs from our collection of over 7,000, creating a personalized, mini-exhibition based around themes from a class curriculum. This set-up gives our visitors the opportunity to view works up close and personal, without glass, and able to be arranged and rearranged for juxtapositions. We’re looking forward to utilizing these capabilities further down the road in our future Museum Learning Center.

Our first groups of visitors, Flavia Vidal’s Phillips Academy English 200 class, came to visit us on October 16th. The students are studying different forms of writing and many of their readings revolve around the theme of family. We pulled thirteen striking images of families from different time periods and in various formats. The students were able to make meaningful connections between the photographs, their readings, and their own experiences. It was an active class session, full of observations, opinions, and epiphanies. The students are continuing their explorations through an essay assignment drawing inspiration from JPEG reproductions of the photographs.

This is just the beginning! Other Phillips Academy English classes and classes from schools in the area are bringing students to make connections between the Addison’s photo collection and a range of classroom curriculum.

If you are a teacher and are interested in bringing a class to our Photography Study Studio to view selections from our photo collection or collaborating on a photography or arts-based project, offered free of charge, please contact Jamie Kaplowitz: or (978) 749-4037.

Jamie Kaplowitz
Education Fellow

Friday, October 17, 2008

A is not only for Addison…or Art

A is also for Andover athletics! This fall, Jaime DeSimone, the Addison’s Charles H. Sawyer Curatorial Fellow, is taking her experience and enthusiasm to the playing fields as head coach of Phillips Academy’s JV girls field hockey team. Jaime brings immense dedication and passion to both the arenas of art and athletics. While working a full schedule at the Addison in preparation for upcoming exhibitions and publications, including Sheila Hicks: 50 Years, Whistler's Bridge: The Battersea Bridge in the Art of James McNeill Whistler, and Late John Marin, Jaime exhibits the “fine art” of coaching during four practices and two games each week. Balancing her many responsibilities, this week she traveled to New York with Addison curators Susan Faxon and Allison Kemmerer for a full day of meetings with board members as well as artist and gallery visits. This Saturday, Jaime, assistant coach Stephanie Curci, and the team will make the journey to the rolling fields of Northfield Mount Hermon School in western Massachusetts. The team’s current record is an impressive 6-1-1, with five more games to play including a season finale against historic rival, Phillips Exeter Academy.

We wish continued success to Jaime
and the girls of the “Big Blue!”

(Jaime is in the back row, far right in team photo.)

Juliann McDonough
Curatorial Associate

Monday, October 6, 2008

Final Week of Coming of Age in Venice

This is just a quick reminder that the Peggy Guggenheim Collection venue of our traveling exhibition Coming of Age: American Art, 1850s to 1950s closes this coming Sunday, October 12th, in Venice, Italy. The show has been an incredible success there and our Venetian collegues are sad to see it go.

But not to worry, the show will soon open at the Museum of Art-Fort Lauderdale in Florida (see left) on Thursday, November 6th where it will be on view until March 23rd, 2009. Then, the show will leave the United States again, this time traveling to Canada to the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec in Québec City. This newly added venue will run May 28th, 2009 through September 7th, 2009.

I will be traveling with a group of the show's objects as they make their way from Venice to Florida, and I plan to devote a future Blog Addison post about my adventures. So stay tuned!

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What's/Who's New in the Education Department

You may have noticed that the contact details on the education page of the Addison Gallery’s website now invite you to contact Jamie Kaplowitz. Before I tell you what I’m looking forward to as the new Education Fellow, let me tell you a little about me. I have always felt at home in museums, ever since I stood underneath the 94-foot-long blue whale model at the American Museum of Natural History in New York when I was very young. I am now almost finished with my Masters Degree in Museum Education at Tufts University. I’m working towards bringing together my years of designing and managing artist-in-residency programs in New York City schools, my experience in Visitor Services at the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park and, of course, my studies at Tufts.

This truly is an opportune time to be starting here in the Education Department, as we’re really providing museum education without a physical museum! Sounds troublesome but it’s actually a perfect opportunity to be creative about ways in which we can still interact with our community of schools and develop diverse programming stemming from the needs of preK-12th grade teachers and students. Please check our education webpages for teacher and school programs and resources. And don’t forget that you can browse the collection online any time that you want to see some of your favorite Addison artworks.

On Saturday I dove headfirst into my first program with the Addison at Phillips Academy’s annual Non Sibi Day, a day of service to honor the tradition of Andover’s non sibi motto, which translates from Latin as “not for self.” Members of the Phillips Academy community – students, faculty, staff, alumni and parents – participate in various community activities in the immediate area and in various locations across the world.

Fifteen Phillips Academy students collaborated with fifteen Lawrence High School students during a daylong photography project at the Essex Art Center in Lawrence. We looked at and reflected on the photographs of teens by artist Dawoud Bey and used these insights to create our own portraits of each other. Connections were made, both artistic and interpersonal, that I hope will continue long beyond Non Sibi Day.

If the successes of Saturday’s program are any indication of the road ahead, I’m happy to say that I can look forward to a rewarding and exciting year here at the Addison!

Jamie Kaplowitz
Education Fellow

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Common Threads

Interlacing past and present areas of focus at the Addison, color prints by Arthur Wesley Dow and Sheila Hicks’s woven miniatures will be on view in New York City this fall. Breathtaking, colorful and modest in size, both Dow’s and Hicks’s work share a mastery of techniques, one in printmaking and the other in weaving. Recalling the Addison’s past exhibition Ipswich Days, Hirschl & Adler Galleries will open Along Ipswich River: Color-Prints by Arthur W. Dow on October 10th through November 15th. Explosive in color and inventive in construction, twenty woven miniatures by Sheila Hicks will be on view in Minimes: Small Woven Works at the Davis & Langdale Company, Inc. on October 1st and continues through November 8th. Currently, the Addison staff is busy organizing a touring retrospective of the artist’s work to open in September 2010. Minimes offers a glimpse of Hicks’s oeuvre.

If you are passing through New York this October, then please take this opportunity to re-familiarize yourself with the scenes of Dow’s hometown of Ipswich and discover the innovative miniatures of Sheila Hicks. Both exhibitions promise to be aesthetically pleasing and confirm various ways of artistic creation.

Jaime DeSimone, Charles H. Sawyer Curatorial Fellow

Images (left to right): Arthur Wesley Dow (1857-1922), The Derelict, or the Lost Boat, about 1916, color woodcut, 4 1/8 x 1 7/8 in. (10.5 x 4.7 cm), Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, partial gift of George and Barbara Wright and partial purchase as the gift of R. Crosby Kemper through the R. Crosby Kemper Foundation; © Sheila Hicks (b. 1934), linen and cork for May We Have This Dance?, 2005, sculpture bas-relief at Target Corporation, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Addison Manships Make Trip to Ipswich

For years, our two large Paul Manship bronzes, Actaeon and Diana, have graced the rotunda and front foyer of the Addison. While our building is closed for renovation, they can be seen in an entirely new setting, the Great House at Castle Hill, on the Crane Estate of the Trustees of Reservations in Ipswich, Massachusetts, as part of their exhibition Paul Manship: A Modern Classicist.

I took a ride to Ipswich to see the objects installed. They had already been well-packed in "slat crates" for their move from the museum to our temporary off site art storage space. Fine Arts Enterprises (FAE) provided the transportation from there to Ipswich. Craig Prest and Andrew Larue backed their truck up to the largest door available, carefully pulled the crates off using pallet jacks over a ramp strategically placed over the entrance stairs (see left, click all images for larger views), and rolled them through the mansion's opulent rooms (see right) to the main stairwell.

Here's where things got interesting. The two sculptures needed to be brought up the massive stairwell to the exhibition space on the second level, but there was no elevator. The staff of the Crane Estate called for their grounds crew to come gather and lend us a hand. It took six people to carefully and methodically lift each heavy bronze sculpture up the stairs (see left). I lent a hand bringing up one of the objects and I can say we were very glad The Trustees had so many people available to help.

Once the sculptures were in the exhibition space, exhibition co-curator Susan Hill Dolan, The Trustees Historic Resources Manager - Northeast Region, had FAE place them in their positions (see right) where they will soon be joined by a variety of loans from other institutions and private collectors. Having only seen them in the Addison's entrance, I was amazed at how different the objects looked in their new location. New details are apparent in the new light. They are placed by a window that overlooks the Crane Estate's own Manships outside, two large griffins that stand guard over the mansion's beautifully maintained grounds and gardens. These sculptures were a gift to Mr. Crane upon completion of the Great House in 1928, and it is in honor of the anniversary of this gift that The Trustees of Reservations is holding the exhibition

The exhibition opens Thursday, September 25th and I encourage everyone to come see the show, our objects, and visit the incredible Great House that graces the top of Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich!

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Antoinette "Nicki" Thiras (1919-2008)

A word from Addison Director Brian Allen:

The sad news of the death of longtime Addison assistant to the director Antoinette "Nicki" Thiras reached us today. Nicki Thiras served the Addison for 44 years prior to her retirement in 1991. During those years, as part of a small staff, she handled a multitude of responsibilities ranging from serving three directors, handling museum registration, and greeting visitors. She was indeed a great institution within a museum that was even then itself a great institution. Her beloved sister and longtime Phillips Academy staff member, Dickie, died in February of 2007, and with Nicki's death we feel a distinctive part of the Addison's history has passed away as well. Our condolences go to Nicki's family and many friends.

The Addison staff in 1984.
Nicki Thiras is on the far left.

A Front Entrance Accessible to All

Since 1993, visitors unable to climb the Addison's front steps entered the building via our lower-level handicapped-accessible entrance located on the north side of the building. While they were greeted with the model ships, they had to take a ride up an elevator and make their way down our main hall to get to our majestic rotunda to speak with our greeter at the front information desk. This was not at all how the building's architect, Charles A. Platt, had envisioned visitors experiencing the design of the building. All should enter through the portico and front doors, into the rotunda, and from there into the galleries.

Finally, once our renovation is complete, all visitors will be able to enter the museum as Platt had intended. A new elevator is being installed behind our front facade (see above and right). Visitors unable to climb the front stairs will enter the ground level elevator located just to their left. The elevator will bring them up to the front portico where, crossing a newly leveled surface, they will be able to enter the museum through the front doors.

The rotunda will still feature our Paul Manship fountain, albeit restored and flowing properly, but the information desk will be moved to restore the space to its original, intended, uncluttered appearance. The desk will be relocated to one of the side halls off the rotunda opposite our newly refurbished and expanded gift shop occupying a former office. This will allow our all our visitors ample room to easily move through the museum's front entryway and experience the building as Platt had intended.

Images and news from our construction site can be found here on our website and are updated on a regular basis (see left). Please check back often to see how the project is progressing and to learn how soon our front entrance will be open and accessible to all!

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Addison on the Road

Even though the Addison is currently closed for renovation, we are still lending a variety of our collection objects to exhibitions organized by other museums. We have 94 objects on the road right now, and that does not include the 71 objects we are touring as part of our own Coming of Age exhibition. Here are where you can find a few of them:

Our entire collection of Robert Frank photographs of The Americans are currently on view at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in On the Road Again with Jack Kerouac and Robert Frank, on view until September 21st. This is a rare opportunity to see this complete group of images installed in one location and I understand the show is quite stunning to see!

Our Edward Hopper, Railroad Train (see above, left), traveled straight from the final venue of the successful Edward Hopper exhibition in Chicago to the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, England, to take part in Art in the Age of Steam. The show closes there August 10th but opens at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri on September 13th and runs through January 18th, 2009.

We've also agreed to lend one of our Sol LeWitt wall drawings, Wall Drawing #880 Loopy Doopy (orange and green) 6" Wide Orange Bands, Green Background, to the Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective at Mass MOCA in North Adams, Massachusetts. Former Addison Director Jock Reynolds had a hand in organizing this exhibition. The show opens there November 16th, but the labor-intensive wall drawings are being executed as we speak.

We are also lending our two Paul Manship bronzes, Diana and Actaeon (see right), that normally grace the front entrance to the Addison, to the Crane Estate at Castle Hill in Ipswich, Massachusetts, as part of their 80th Anniversary Celebration exhibition opening soon. Addison staff will be present to oversee the installation there and I hope to devote a future blog posting to this event.

Our home may be temporarily closed, but our collection can still be seen in a variety of places. So please come visit us on the road!

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

Monday, July 28, 2008

New Spaces

The staff may have all moved out of the Addison Gallery, but most of us are still on campus. The majority of us have moved into existing Addison-controlled spaces down School Street in Abbot Hall (see left).

My office and our Education department are on the first level in what serves as the Addison's "workshop." Our desks and the Registrarial files and archives are nestled amongst the equipment used in building pedestals and cases for our exhibitions. Our printer sits in the "paint booth" where a large fan is used to pull paint fumes out of the space, and our filing cabinets and shelves are arranged around the meandering tubes of the sawdust collection system.

On the second level, Anna Gesing, our Administrative Support, and the Preparators, now occupy the spaces in and around the artists' studio, where our artists-in-residence work during their stints on campus. Their desks sit under the glow of natural light coming in through the skylights above and the grand windows overlooking Abbot Circle below (see right). This is where we are planning to have selections of our permanent collection available for study and visiting classes later this year.

The Curatorial department and our Registrar are now in the Artist-in-Residence's Apartment high up a narrow, winding staircase in Abbot Hall's attic. Several desks are tucked in around the thick wood roof supports and the David Ireland-designed furniture and skylights (see left). The quiet, dramatic space provides an excellent place for our Curators to plan the new slate of exhibitions in the works for our reopening.

There are also several staff members who are not located in Abbot. Our Director, Brian Allen, has an office in Graham House, the Development Department is in an office located adjacent to our off site storage facility, and our security staff will still be stationed at the Addison Gallery itself providing coverage for the construction site.

The staff is only temporarily occupying these spaces. They will return to their former uses in eighteen months once the staff returns, in its entirety, to the museum after our expansion and renovation project. In the meanwhile, we can be reached at the phone numbers we've always had and our mail will still find us. We may be busy preparing for our re-opening, but please do come by and visit!

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

Friday, July 18, 2008

Manship Moves for the First Time Since 1931

Things have been frantic here at the Addison since we closed to the public July 13th for the last time until 2010. We have three shows of artwork to pack, a variety of various furnishings to remove, and several staff members to relocate by the end of this month when the building is finally turned over to the contractors. One of the more interesting artwork moves, accomplished just two days after we closed, was the deinstallation and packing up of our famous Paul Manship Venus sculpture and fountain that has graced our rotunda since the Addison opened on May 17, 1931.

The fountain is being sent to the Williamstown Art Conservation Center (WACC) to be conserved while we are closed. The surface will be cleaned, minor fractures in the marble base will be consolidated, and the fountain will be adjusted so that the water will cascade over its sides as it was designed.

USArt Company, working with WACC conservator Adam Nesbit, erected a gantry to span above the fountain and carefully lift up each of its layers so they could be pulled aside, lowered to the floor, and either crated or palletized for travel. The Venus sculpture came off the top first and then the two layers that comprise the actual fountain, held together with plaster "glue," were removed. Pulling these apart gave us the first look at the brass piped interior plumbing that had not been seen in seventy-seven years. Then, each leg was slowly lifted from the pool's basin and placed into their form-fitting containers. The job took one very long day, but it went very smoothly, with great compliments to the representatives from USArt and WACC.

We still have a ways to go before the building is turned over to the contractors. However, we're happy to know that the moving out phase is just about done and then, in just eighteen short months, we'll be moving everything back into the museum again, including the restored and fully functional Manship fountain. That is a time we here on staff are all looking forward to with great eagerness and optimism.

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

From the rooftops of John Sloan's painting to the canals in Venice

Coming of Age: American Art, 1850s to 1950s is now opened at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy. The cultural guide, Un Ospite di Venezia, or A Guest in Venice, highlights cultural events, gallery and museum openings, hot spots, hotels, etc. John Sloan's Sunday, Women Drying Their Hair of 1912 was featured on the cover. Although the publication is distributed throughout the city, it might not be available to us in the states, so I've scanned the appropriate pages to share with you. (The full article is also available on Un Ospite di Venezia's website incase the following images are not legible.)

Posted by Jaime DeSimone, Charles H. Sawyer Curatorial Fellow

Friday, June 20, 2008

Carroll Dunham and Fence Obstacles

We have received a perceptive and engaging review of Carroll Dunham: Prints by new Boston Globe critic Sebastian Smee in today's weekend section.

Cartoon imagery, and other wonders of the print:
The Addison Gallery of American Art's brilliant Dunham show may be a dream for those who thrill to the endless possibilities offered up by printmaking…

In other news, some of you may have noticed the construction fencing popping up in front of the Addison. Never fear, you can still enter the Addison through July 13, 2008 by using the wheelchair accessible entrance on the side of the building or by winding your way around the fence in front of the Addison to the front steps. It is worth the trip (and minor fencing obstacles) to see this season's exhibitions before we close for renovation and expansion.

Maggie Adler
Director of Development

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Addison in Venice - Last Chance

Brian Allen, Mary Stripp & R. Crosby Kemper Director of the Addison, posts this reminder of a one-of-a-kind travel opportunity to visit the Addison's greatest treasures in Venice.

"Addison in Venice: Celebrating the Anniversary Year of Andrea Palladio (1508-80)
September 14-22, 2008

This September you will have the opportunity to experience treasures from the Addison in the jewel of Italy - objects from the Addison collection will be on exhibition at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. I am writing today to invite you to join me in a once in a lifetime adventure for Phillips Academy alumni and friends from September 14 to 22 in the majestic city of Venice.

Coming of Age: American Art 1850s to 1950s, an exhibition of seventy of the Addison's greatest paintings and sculptures, will be on view at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice beginning June 28. In honor of this historic event, the Addison has organized a trip of sublime quality. Led by Peter Lauritzen, a renowned architectural historian based in Venice, and me, we will visit palaces and villas normally not accessible to the public in Venice and the Veneto region. A more elegant and special experience of Venice would be hard to imagine.

A unique focus of this trip is the architecture of Andrea Palladio - this year marks the 500th anniversary of his birth. Palladio is, in many respects, among the most important "fathers" of the Addison's beautifully proportioned Charles Platt building. With the Addison Gallery about to get its first renovation and addition in over 75 years, it is indeed fitting to salute both the wonderful Addison show traveling to Venice and one of Charles Platt's greatest sources of inspiration.

This trip has many marvelous features. Among the private sites opened for our enjoyment are:

· Secret Itineraries, a chance to explore rarely seen rooms and hidden corners of the Doge's Palace, from which the great Venetian Empire was administered.

· The Palazzo Albrizzi, the most spectacular Baroque palace in Venice and still a private family home, where we will be hosted by Baron Albrizzi.

· A private visit to Basilica di San Marco at night where our group will enjoy a tour of this Byzantine basilica's beautiful golden mosaics specially illuminated just for us.

· A private reception on the roof of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, one of the best views in Venice.

· A special tour of the Benedictine convent adjacent to San Giorgio Maggiore, not open to the public.

· A tour of the private La Rotonda, one of Palladio's most influential villas, with its owner, Conte Lodovico di Valmarana.

· A festive dinner at the Palazzo Tiepolo hosted by Contessa Leila Passi, the palace's owner.

Venice has, of course, inspired great art since the Byzantine era. Our trip will include a morning in the mysterious island of Torcello, the region's original 6th century settlement, where we will see the surviving mosaics of Venice's original cathedral. We will have lunch at Locanda Cipriani, one of the most elegant restaurants in the city. Exploring the city of Venice, we will follow the footsteps and view the masterpieces of Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, and Tiepolo and also experience the sights that have profoundly inspired American artists such as Whistler and Sargent. And we will enjoy some of their most exquisite Venice-inspired works from the Addison's collection in Coming of Age at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

Please respond at your earliest convenience as reservations are limited and will be on a first come, first served basis. Please
click here for the full itinerary and information on how to sign up.

I hope you can join us on this remarkable adventure!

Very truly yours,
Brian T. Allen"

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Moving the Collections, Part II

At a secret location, deep within a large, climate-controlled, super-secure off site art storage warehouse facility, the Addison Gallery's collection now resides carefully packed away awaiting its eventual return to a fully renovated and expanded museum in 2010.

The bins and crates now holding our artwork are carefully arranged on long stretches of shelving units (see left). Each container is labeled with a list of its contents, complete with images. This, along with updated database location codes, help facilitate easy retrieval of our objects when necessary. Objects that we know we will need to access often while we are closed are located on the lower shelves. Objects we don't plan to need until we reopen are located higher up on the less-accessible, and nearly two-story tall, upper shelves. This is a good plan, in theory: there were many times, as we placed something almost completely out of reach in the back of one of the upper shelves, that I, being a true believer in Murphy's Laws, thought to myself, "That will inevitably be the one thing we'll need to get at first!!!"

Many of our two-dimensional objects, packed individually in slipcases of plastic, bubble, and cardboard due to their size, are stored upright on another set of storage racks (see right). All their labels are facing out, again, to make it easy to locate an object if it needs to be seen. Our ship models (see below) are also stored on shelves, sometimes in unique configurations due to their size, and are quite a sight to behold, seemingly docked in port around and above you, when you first walk into the storage vault.

Yet another of the many issues keeping me up at night during this project was what the packers and I called the ultimate question: Will everything fit? This was very difficult to estimate before the project started...the objects, while stored here at the Addison, were in very efficient, space-saving storage equipment. Trying to figure out how much space the collection will require after it is packed was a challenge. Thankfully, we now have the answer to the ultimate question: it does look like it will all fit, and perhaps I will finally enjoy that ever-elusive good night's sleep.

A good night's sleep for the moment, that is. Getting the artwork out of the museum is just half the battle. In 2010 it will all have to move back. For now, however, we know that the collection is safe, secure, and patiently waiting until it will be returned, once again, to the Addison Gallery of American Art.

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Moving the Collections, Part I

Visitors may notice that parts of the museum are looking somewhat sparse as of late. The model ships have set sail, the Haseltine horses gracing our stairwell have trod off to different pastures, and the massive sculptures gracing our courtyard outside have now left. But this is nothing compared to the emptiness of our art storage areas. The main phase of our collections move to our temporary off site storage space is now nearly complete.

The ships, as our Blog Addison readers know, were first, starting in March. The packing crew then moved into our art storage areas. Behind closed doors, we proceeded to pack and ship out over 15,000 objects over the following two and a half months. I lost track at some point, but we used hundreds of 4 x 8 foot sheets of cardboard, thousands of archival plastic bags of various sizes, many miles worth of packing tape and seemingly enough bubble wrap to cover a fair amount of Phillips Academy's Great Lawn. This resulted in rooms now filled with empty, dismantled storage bins, racks, and screens that produce a reverberating echo when you speak(see left).

Once the storage areas were cleared, we moved outside to tackle the three large sculptures sitting in the exact area where our new addition will be built. Our Frank Stella, Mont Saint Quentin, easily the heaviest object in our collection, was carefully loaded onto a flatbed truck using a forklift (see right). Once it was strapped down and joined by its fellow courtyard dwellers, the truck pulled away from a very empty courtyard area. I can only imagine what passing drivers thought when they saw the mangled metal form of the Stella on the back of the truck as it made its way to our off site storage area.

Regardless of the physical challenges involved in moving the collection, there was a whole other extremely important side to this project: inventory. Every object that left here was labeled (see left), marked down as having been packed, marked down again as it was loaded into the truck, and marked down once more as it was located in the off site storage area. A considerable amount of paper was produced to track everything and a considerable amount of time was spent just updating object locations on our database. Systems were in place to make this proceed as smoothly as possible, but it was definitely the one aspect of this project that kept me up at nights more than any other.

So where did it all go? Stay tuned to Blog Addison for a future post exploring the Indiana Jones-like warehouse where our objects are now safely stored until their eventual, triumphant return to the Addison in 2010...

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives