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