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