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