Friday, December 3, 2010

Shipping Hicks

Our Sheila Hicks: 50 Years exhibition is up now for all to see. But our work with it is far from over.

The show will be travelling to two more venues: the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (March 25, 2011-August 7, 2011), and the Mint Museum of Craft + Design in Charlotte, North Carolina (October 1, 2011-January 29, 2012). Just as it was my job to arrange the shipment of all the objects from the show's twenty-five lenders to the Addison, it's my job to figure out how to get the show to each of the venues, and then disperse its objects at the end of the tour back to their owners. This is not an easy task.

For example, anyone visiting the exhibition will note that while many of the objects are small, there are some that are rather large. The crates used for shipping these objects had to be even larger. The largest crate we received measures six feet high by three feet deep by fifteen feet long, about two feet shorter than a Cadillac Escalade (see left, with yours truly pictured for scale). Granted, the crate weighed less than the car, but it was too large to move through our galleries. We technically could fit it on our elevator with about an inch to spare, but there was not enough space outside the elevator doors to move it in or out. We ended up unpacking it inside our loading dock area and carefully lugging each of its object's twenty-three components up two floors to the galleries. Very complex logistics were required to ship this here from Europe. Due to the schedule of flights with cargo holds large enough to accommodate it, the crate had to be delivered to the museum one morning at 1:30AM. I was one of the poor souls who was on site to receive it, but that was nothing compared to the long journey the courier who travelled with it had to suffer!

Working with a fine arts shipper, I'll figure out how we'll get this, and the rest of the crates, to the next venues. How many trucks will we need? How large? Can any of the crates be stacked? Will there be enough space to ship the show's cases and pedestals? And, of course, can the venues accommodate large trucks at their loading docks and can we maneuver the large crates around their galleries?

Sometimes, these questions are only finally answered at the end of the show's run, many times through trial, and hopefully, very little error. But the more we can figure out in the advance, the smoother the shipments and installations go. And that is what is best for the art!

Posted by:

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Addison on MCTV

The Addison on Methuen Community Television!

Wednesday, November 24 at 6:30 PM and 10 PM

Watch Thom Gradzewicz's segment on the Addison, filmed in September, on Comcast Channel 22 in Methuen or Verizon Channel 33 in Lawrence, North Andover, and North Reading. Click here for more information, including future air dates.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Exhibition Opening Reception - Nov. 5

Opening Reception

Friday 5 November
5:00 – 7:30 PM

Please join us for the opening of our new exhibitions:

Sheila Hicks: 50 Years

The first museum retrospective devoted to Sheila Hicks, a pioneering artist known for successfully navigating the terrain between art, design, and architecture in works composed of fiber and color. »MORE

Please join us in Kemper Auditorium on Saturday 6 November at 2 PM when we host a special conversation with exhibition artist Sheila Hicks and co-curators Joan Simon and Susan Faxon!

Artist's Project:Tristan Perich

Inspired by the aesthetics of math and physics, Perich works with simple forms and complex systems to create both his music and art. »MORE

At top: Cristobal ZaƱartu, photograph of components of Sheila Hick's May I Have This Dance?, 2002-3, in the courtyard of Hicks's Cour de Rohan studio, 2003.
At bottom: Tristan Perich, Machine Wall Drawing, 2010-09-15, 11:53 AM to 2010-09-28, 3:06 PM (detail), ink, 120 x 100 inches

The event is free and open to the public. For directions, click here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Working on the Next One

Well before Inside, Outside, Upstairs, Downstairs: the Addison Anew opened, in fact, years before, we began planning for the exhibitions that would follow it.

Sheila Hicks: 50 Years, opening November 5th and prominently displayed on our website, began its planning stages over half a decade ago when our Curators began working with the artist to start research for the book, create the checklist, and find venues to take the exhibition. As the artwork was being hung in time for Inside, Outside's September 7th opening, I was contacting our lenders to Hicks to arrange shipment of their objects here and our Preparators were sorting out installation needs and having pedestals and mounting hardware designed.

While the Preparators and I were working on Hicks, the Curators were looking even further ahead...they were meeting publication deadlines for our American Vanguards: Graham, Davis, Gorky, de Kooning and their Circle, 1927-1942, opening next year, while they sent paperwork to lenders for our Whistler's Bridge: Battersea Bridge in the Art of Whistler, opening in 2013.

We plan our exhibition schedule years in advance to make sure there are no conflicts not only during the exhibitions' schedules, but also during the exhibitions' planning stages. And just because a show has closed here at the Addison doesn't mean it is over...Hicks, American Vanguards, and Whistler will each be travelling to two additional venues during their runs. As the person who typically travels with our shows for their installations and deinstallations, I need to make sure I don't happen to need to close one show in Philadelphia while opening another in London at the same time!

So when you come see Inside, Outside, Upstairs, Downstairs: the Addison Anew, keep in mind that the staff here are already working on the next one, and the one after that, and the one after that one!

Posted by:

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

Thursday, September 30, 2010

First Day of Classes!

And what a day it was!
The Addison Education Department has expanded by one. Namely, me! Hello, I’m Katherine Ziskin and I just began my stint as Education Fellow for School and Community Collaborations. I will be working primarily with schools and community groups in Andover and Lawrence as well as many other surrounding areas. We now have 50% more staff to accommodate the expanding interest in bringing classes and taking part in all of the opportunities that the new Addison makes possible.

September 16th was a busy day for the Addison Education Department as the first classes to visit the renewed, improved Addison came bounding up the front steps.

Our first class in the new Addison Gallery was the Kindergarten Prep class from The Children’s Place, a Bright Horizons center located on the campus of Phillips Academy. Mrs. O’s and Miss Sarah’s class has been studying circles this month, and as we discussed the architecture of the Addison, we counted all the circles in the rotunda (even noticing the room itself was round!). We also hypothesized about the fountain and the reasons there may be flowers around it.

“Sometimes the flowers need water.”
“So it [the fountain] could look pretty.”

Upstairs we ventured into the Presence gallery to see the painting we had discussed earlier in the month in the classroom, The Drummond Brothers by Benjamin West. We pointed out the differences between the picture of the painting we looked at in class and the one on the Addison’s walls.

“It’s [the one in the Addison] bigger!”
“It has a square around it.”

The students spent time differentiating between ornate (a new vocabulary word!) frames and less decorative ones. And, since the class will be curating their own collection of circle objects we took some time to think about how certain pieces of art were displayed. Some display questions included: “What would be the difference if this pedestal (another new word!) was painted in a dark color?” “What if they put the sculptures on the floor instead of the pedestal?”

We said goodbye to Kindergarten Prep knowing we would see them soon. They’re due back next month to see more of the exhibition, Inside, Outside, Upstaris, Downstairs, and we can’t wait!

Our very first Phillips Academy class also came in on Thursday. Emily Trespas’s ART500/Portfolio class joined us in the afternoon for a brief overview of the renewed Addison and a look inside the Museum Learning Center. We spent some time in the Document gallery discussing what it means to “document” and what a “document” might be. We also hypothesized about some of the paintings, photographs, and sculptures in the Industry and Construction galleries. We tried to define what aspects of composition and artist choice allowed for an art object to convey a certain mood. Why did some of the photographs feel alive and jubilant while others felt desolate and cold?

We made our way into the Museum Learning Center (MLC) where we discussed the possibilities for research in our improved library. But, the highlight of any Museum Learning Center visit these days seems to be watching Tristan Perich’s Machine Drawing draw itself! The drawing has been working on itself for three days now and it can’t be denied that it’s really coming along nicely. Perich, our current Edward E. Elson Artist-in-Residence (and PA alum) is a visual artist and composer inspired by the aesthetic possibilities of math and science. Using a hand-crafted two-motor machine, Perich programs his creation to draw; in this case on our brand new MLC walls!

All in all it was a rewarding and inspiring day and we look forward to the many groups from both Phillips and all over the area to come, explore, learn, and think in our re-opened galleries!

Posted by:
Katherine Ziskin
Education Fellow for School and Community Collaborations

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Grand Reopening!

The Addison Gallery of American Art is opening its doors once again! As of September 7, 2010, the museum resumes regular public hours, Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., and Sunday from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. and, as always, admission to all exhibitions and events is free.

On View: Inside, Outside, Upstairs, Downstairs: the Addison Anew
To celebrate the Addison’s much anticipated reopening, the Addison’s curatorial team has developed a comprehensive exhibition of over three hundred historical and contemporary art objects chosen from the museum’s extraordinary collection. Arranged thematically, these celebrated treasures, old favorites, less familiar works, and newly acquired pieces illustrate the great strengths of the Addison collection while creating engaging dialogues among works across media and time.

Artist Project: Tristan Perich
Soon, our fall 2010 Edward E. Elson Artist-in-Residence Tristan Perich (Phillips Academy class of 2000) will begin work on a multimedia installation to inaugurate the Museum Learning Center, the centerpiece of the Addison’s new Sidney R. Knafel Wing. Inspired by the aesthetics of math and physics, Perich works with simple forms and complex systems to create both his music and art. Best known for acoustic and electronic musical compositions that explore the physicality of sound and the polyphonic potential of 1-bit audio, his works for solo instruments, ensemble, and orchestra have been performed throughout the world. As a visual artist he works primarily with handmade machines to create delicately executed pen-on-paper drawings that explore the limits of traditional drawing through randomness and order. (image: Tristan Perich, Machine Drawing in progress)

To celebrate the Addison's reopening and permanent collection, all are invited to our Open House celebration, on Saturday, September 25, from 3:00-7:00PM. Hope to see you there!

For more information, please visit our newly designed and launched website at

Posted by:
Jamie Kaplowitz
Education Fellow and Museum Learning Specialist

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Big Move, Part III

With less than two weeks left before our grand reopening to the public September 7th, the staff have been frantically busy putting everything in place!

The movement of material back into the building is nearly complete. It took six trucks to bring over 400 artworks for the opening show back to the museum from our temporary art storage facility. Another three trucks were required to move the staff and the rest of the "stuff" back into the building. This all went smoothly and quickly in part to having a proper loading dock for the first time in the museum's history.

My colleague Samantha Katzen has posted images on our Facebook page showing, finally, that artwork is back on the gallery walls (see above left, click images to make bigger). Samantha has also mentioned that books are returning to our library's shelves. Our archives also have been arranged safe and sound in their new storage units, easily accessible and all in the same place, again, for the first time ever (see right). All members of our staff are in their new office spaces and are getting used to the new layout.

Lastly, our Development Office, and yours truly, have been working hard on getting the Addison's new, redesigned website ready for launch. All new navigation, content, and features expand the website while favorite sections, like our online collection pages (see left, work in progress) and extensive education content, receive revised looks and interfaces. We hope to have the site launch around September 1st.

The move is complete. Soon, the front doors will be open and visitors will be coming back in. Stay tuned for more information regarding our reopening.

Posted by:

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Addison's Other Installation

By now you probably know that the Addison staff is hard at work installing our first exhibitions since the renovation and expansion project began. Inside, Outside, Upstairs, Downstairs: The Addison Anew will showcase treasured favorites and noteworthy new acquisitions, grouped in creative and unexpected ways that will truly reopen your eyes to the Addison.

As exciting as that is, however, it’s not the only installation currently taking place at the museum. In our dramatically renovated and expanded library, the Addison’s collection of nearly 6,000 books on art, artists, and all things art-related is being cataloged and shelved for the public to use and enjoy. Overseeing this extensive project, which actually began some five years ago, is Timothy Sprattler, a librarian with 32 years experience and 25 years at Phillips Academy. Sprattler, the Assistant Director and Archivist at Phillips Academy’s Oliver Wendell Holmes Library (O.W.H.L.), has spearheaded the Addison art library’s integration into the larger Phillips Academy library system. Instead of disparate collections spread all over campus, institutions like the Addison and PA’s Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology are now satellite libraries, with inventories fully searchable in the central O.W.H.L. database. The days of showing up with fingers crossed that we might have a book on the artist you’re interested in are over!

Make no mistake, however—this is not a casual undertaking. The new Addison art library is the culmination of years of work by Sprattler and other catalogers. Instead of merely alphabetizing by artist (leaving you to guess where to search for a book like Homer, Eakins, and Anshutz: The Search for American Identity in the Gilded Age), the library is now installed in accordance with the industry standard Dewey Decimal System. How, then, did Sprattler take dozens of boxes of books packed in no particular order, and create a true library out of haphazard piles?

To find out, I spoke with him about his work on this project. My first question was simple: where on earth do you begin? Faced with row after row of empty shelves and box after box of uncataloged books, it goes without saying that Sprattler needed to be prepared before diving in. One key component in managing the reinstallation is building in extra space when starting to shelve; as anyone who’s ever tried to put things away and miscalculated the space needed knows, shifting the entire assemblage over and over again in neither fun nor productive. Sprattler builds ample empty space into his mental blueprint, so that only small sections at a time need to be readjusted.

Another tool in his arsenal is something called a “shelf list.” As one might imagine, it is simply a list of all previously cataloged books in the order they should be shelved. When dealing with a fully cataloged collection, this shelf list is virtually all you need to reinstall, because following it is like painting by numbers. The Addison’s collection, however, is not fully cataloged. The purpose of the shelf list is two-fold—a plan of attack for shelving the books Sprattler knows about, and a system for identifying those that still need to be cataloged. Once everything is unpacked and put away, he’ll go through the shelves and check them against his list; anything not on the list still needs to be cataloged.

The project may be complex and occasionally laborious, but the results will be well worth the effort. Students, researchers, and casual visitors will all enjoy the lasting benefits of Sprattler’s undertaking for years to come. The system is organized but flexible, modernizing the Addison’s research facilities while still allowing users to experience the benefits and enjoyment of real books. The internet serves its purpose, and indeed there will be computer terminals available right in the library, but the best way to obtain information is via a variety of sources. Now, the Addison is much better equipped to be one of those sources, and we hope you’ll make time to stop in the library when you visit the Addison after our reopening on September 7th.

Posted by:

Samantha Katzen
Development Associate

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Lawrence After School Collectors Clubs

Excitement about collecting this year inspired two Lawrence fourth grade After School Collectors Clubs, organized by Mary Guerrero at the Henry K. Oliver School and Christine Jee at the Robert Frost School. These collaborating after school groups explored personal collections, art and historical collections, and Lawrence collections. What can we learn about a community based on its collections? How would you convey information to and about your community using the collecting and arranging of objects and text?

I wanted to make something.
I wanted to show it to the world.

In order to concretize these explorations and expand their vision to include community resources students, family members, and school administrators visited the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) and Lawrence Heritage State Park (LHSP).

How do the walls look different in this gallery?
It looks like a landscape!
I didn’t even notice that!
Maybe it came from an area with a lot of mountains.

At the MFA, students investigated what can be learned about the museum, its collections, and what ideas the museum is trying to communicate based on the ways in which objects and exhibitions are curated.

How do these works interact?
They’re looking at each other!

The students also met David Meehan, retired art teacher from Lawrence High School, who talked with them about the White Fund paintings, owned by Lawrence and housed at the MFA.

Downstairs is like a city, outside of the buildings.
Upstairs is inside a house, it has the loom, and it has Essex Street.

At LHSP, the students met Jim Beauchesne, interim director and interpreter, and viewed collections of objects that share information about and histories of their city. They then used these ideas to inspire photographing and collecting on walks around Essex Street and the canal.

What I learned is that getting ready for an exhibit is hard.

The students have created, curated, and installed an exhibition at LHSP detailing their explorations, ideas, connections, personal collections, and collections that speak to their ideas and knowledge about their community. On exhibit are collections from rocks to Pokemon cards, “silly bands” created from alternative materials in shapes that symbolize Lawrence, weavings that display a connection with Lawrence’s textile history, and the students’ own written and photographic documentation of their work.

Their exhibition was recognized in a recent article in the Eagle Tribune, which can be read online by clicking here.

The Collectors Club exhibition, which opened on June 9th on the 3rd floor of LHSP, will be on view through mid-August and is free and open to the public, as are the two floors of historical collections in LHSP’s exhibitions spaces.

Posted by:

Jamie Kaplowitz
Education Fellow

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Big Move, Part II

Moving back into a museum that had been emptied for renovation and expansion is not as simple as calling your local moving company and shifting your computer from one desk to another. There is much more to do!

In addition to shifting the staff and the contents of their offices, which are actually fairly straight-forward to move, there are hundreds of boxes of art library books, archival material (see left and below), and supplies. With the behind-the-scenes parts of the museum now completely different from how they were when we left, everything from hooks to hang artwork and boxes of copy paper, to electric lifts and display cases, cannot simply go where it was before. Archival files will need to be reorganized and rehoused to fit onto our new mobile storage system. Art library books, once spread on shelves in three different areas, need to be rearranged to fit in our new centralized library area. Each printer and photocopier needs a new spot, every piece of installation hardware needs a new place to live, and making sure every phone has a jack to plug into takes time and an immense amount of patience. Just getting a new cash register for the museum shop and training the front staff to use it requires more coordination than one would initially think!

Once everything is in place, we also need to make sure everything works. There are the big-picture items, such as our security and climate systems, which have gone through rigorous testing over the last few months, but simple things, such as: is every network jack we need live, or does the correct light come on when you flip the switch, or do the doors to the bathroom stalls latch properly? Those will be the maddening things that we'll be sorting out over the next few months.

Rest assured, everything will be ready to go the day we reopen! Stay tuned for Part III for our Big Move series, where we discuss yet another facelift, this one electronic, that the Addison will soon receive.

Posted by:

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Big Move, Part I

With the time remaining until we reopen countable in weeks instead of months or years, we've begun in earnest to prepare for our move back into our newly renovated and expanded museum. I'm starting a series of blog posts that will document our adventures over the next few weeks, so keep checking back here to see where are!

Our current priority is to gather together the 451 objects the curators have put on the checklist for our opening exhibition, Inside, Outside, Upstairs, Downstairs: The Addison Anew. Over the last few weeks, the Preparators and I have been crawling over the crates, bins and shelves of our art storage warehouse facility pulling these objects (see left, Brian Coleman, Preparator, and I contemplate our storage situation atop our crates). Since this checklist did not exist when we packed and moved out of the museum two years ago, the checklist objects are mixed in and packed with the rest of the collection, some more accessible than others. Some have been very easy to pull. Objects recently in our Coming of Age travelling tour are still in their crates, "on top of the pile," so to speak, and can just come straight to the museum as they are. Others are not as easy. Some are in bins three shelves up, some ten to fifteen feet off the ground, and are very difficult to get at. These are not things that can be simply "tossed down" to someone waiting to catch it below. We handle our artwork with great care, and trying to hand a three foot wide painting with a heavy, ornate frame carefully to someone below you while maneuvering your head around beams and sprinkler heads takes patience, practice, and a willingness to get bumped on the head if it means the artwork will get to where it needs to go safely.

Once all the objects have been pulled, we'll truck them to the museum, where they will then be unpacked and laid out in the galleries for the curators to arrange, and the Preparators to install and hang. I will follow behind to update the objects' locations on our database, and finally, for the first time since 2008, users of our website will be able to see "Object currently on view" appear in our object record data.

But this is just what we need to do to get artwork back into the museum. There is much more to do, and stay tuned for Part II, where I'll discuss the logistics of moving everyone and everything else back to the museum. That is, assuming, I haven't suffered too many bumps and bruises to my head!

Posted by:

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Frost School’s 2nd Grade Classroom Collections Project

Ideas about collections this year have sparked projects for PreK through adult audiences. Christine Jee and her second grade class at the Frost School in Lawrence embarked on a year-long Classroom Collections Project in September, exploring the personal and cultural value of collections and museums.

Each student has had an opportunity to be the Collector of the Week, bringing in his or her collection to prompt writing, drawing, and creating – and inspiring additional curriculum connections in math and social studies.

The following are excerpts from the newsletters published from documentation of the students’ work created by the students and Mrs. Jee.

“Our first collector of the week was Gleanys; she brought in her collection of 26 bouncy balls. Students sorted the balls by color and compared her balls to different planets and even to the swirly toothpaste that we use to brush our teeth. We were able to use the many balls during math, as we counted them by 2s and talked about place value by putting them in groups of tens and ones. Finally, we made up addition word problems since Katarina, Mrs. Jee, and Gleanys all brought in more balls to add to the collection of balls. 26 + 2 + 1 + 1 = 30.”

“Remember when Tyler brought in his museum-in-a-box and we got the idea to build our own museums? Well, almost all of the students in our class have brought in their collections by now and we are beginning to plan what it would be like if we had a B301 class collections museum.”

“Last week, Julie and Jamie from the Addison Gallery came into our class and gave us a slide presentation about the museum that they work in. Their museum has been closed to the public since they are working on making it bigger (otherwise we would have gone on a field trip to visit them by now!) and we got to learn about this project. We saw an architect’s rendering, blueprints, and pictures of the construction and talked about the art that the Addison Gallery collects.”

“This week, we will begin constructing a museum of our own. We will make blueprints of what we want the inside of our museum to look like and then build one large museum out of a cardboard box, representing the outside of our museum. Each student will also be in charge of designing and creating their own galleries..”

Mrs. Jee’s students will be showing their work to friends and family soon in a special school exhibition of their “Museum of Art and Other Cool Stuff,” including a celebration of the book of their explorations and process that they co-edited and self-published using

Posted by:

Jamie Kaplowitz
Education Fellow

Monday, May 17, 2010

Emptying the Shelves

I was recently at our temporary art storage facility, looking at the tall shelves of boxes, bins, and crates that are holding our collections safe and sound while the museum is closed for renovation. I realized that there were just a few months left before our reopening and, very soon, our collection will begin to leave storage to return to our walls for display.

The museum, on the outside, looks like it has been finished for months. However, inside the building, a great deal of activity continues. The new climate control systems have been undergoing extensive testing to make sure the museum will provide a safe, stable environment for the collections when they return. The new security and fire detection systems are also undergoing rigorous testing and fine tuning. Our Preparators have been busy installing the new lighting fixtures throughout all of the museum's galleries so that we can actually see what we're doing when the art returns.

Peter Vanderwarker, photographer and Phillips Academy Alum, recently came through the museum and took several images of our beautiful building in its empty state, allowing the architecture to speak for itself (see above and right).
We are looking forward to moving back and reopening to the public this fall. And, I look forward to seeing the shelves at our temporary art storage facility empty in the near future, for it will mean that the art has finally returned to the museum, where it belongs!

Posted by

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Museum Project Part III: Inside the Addison Gallery

What do you imagine are the differences between this photo of our visit to the Addison in the fall…
… and now?

- It was September.
- They added a new part of the building.
- The glass part.
Since the start of the school year, the Addison’s Education Department has been working on The Museum Project with the Kindergarten Prep class at The Children’s Place, a Bright Horizons child care and early education center located on the campus of Phillips Academy. The students have explored all types of collections in order to connect museum collections to the cultural value of their own collections and to learn how to communicate these values to others through classification, display, and interpretation.

Click to read Part I and Part II of The Museum Project on Blog Addison.

After exploring collections and exhibitions at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, the Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archeology at Phillips Academy, and additional museums on family trips, we refocused on the Addison Gallery of American Art’s collection and building.

To provide some context for their visit to the new Addison storage and gallery spaces, we introduced them to James Sousa, the Addison’s Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives, and fellow blogger.

You all have collections of toys at home – Can you list every toy that you have? Can you tell me the location of each toy? The Addison has over 16,000 objects in its collection and my job is to know where they all are.

After sharing photos of the Addison’s collections in storage, in crates, in trucks, and on airplanes, James explained another extension of his interest in organizing collections – his Star Wars collection. The students were fascinated with James’s personal collection and how he organizes and keeps track of all those toys!

The following day, 11 students, 3 parents, 1 sibling, 1 babysitter, 2 teachers, and 2 student teachers took their experience and knowledge up the hill to the Addison. Joined by the Addison’s Education Department and Susan Faxon, the Addison’s Associate Director and Curator of Art before 1950, the students made astute observations and asked innumerable questions about the museum’s space and functions.
- I see the new part, it’s glass.
- What’s the white stuff?
- What’s in the box?
- We saw a picture of that!
- Is there going to be water in there?
What’s different in this room than in the others we’ve seen?
- The walls are a different color.
- The ceiling.
- The lights.
- The lines with the shapes inside.
- I see a pattern! Red, grey, blue, yellow.
- I remember his name: Sol LeWitt.
What part of the building are we in now?
- The glass part.

What part can we see from here that we didn’t notice outside?
- That part – It looks like a gate.
- It’s metal.

- My favorite room was the one with the shapes on the ceiling because the room was a rectangle and the ceiling was a different shape.
- My favorite room was the one with the box in it because I want to see it turn into a fountain.

The students were able to make connections between sorting and arranging their collections at home and materials in the classroom with storing, organizing, and exhibiting collections in the multiple museums they have visited throughout The Museum Project.

In order to answer the numerous questions that have come up during many of our museum visits about how works are framed and hung on the gallery walls, Jason Roy, Assistant Preparator at the Addison, later came to visit Kindergarten Prep with a large box and a bag of tools. He unpacked, disassembled and then reassembled a matted and framed image of the students so they could see first-hand all of the steps involved. They were able to explore all of the hardware and tools, from D-rings and S-hooks to tape measures and levels.

As the school year comes to a close the students will take all of their museum and cultural knowledge with them to kindergarten - and well beyond. And, the Addison and other museum staff will apply the students’ capacity for knowledge, endless curiosity, and observational skills to the development of future education programs.

Posted by

Jamie Kaplowitz
Education Fellow

Friday, April 30, 2010

An Addison film connection

The Portland Press Herald features an interesting article about the upcoming film Wyeth, which is executive produced by Addison Board of Governors member Mary Kemper Wolf. Ms. Wolf mentions that she's considered filming in Maine based partly on the recommendation of fellow Board of Governors member Elizabeth Evans Hunt!

If you'd like to learn more about the Addison's striking Wyeth painting (see above right), Mother Archie's Church, check out the record on the Addison's fully searchable collections page by clicking here.

Posted by:

Samantha Katzen
Development Associate

Monday, April 12, 2010

Truck, Wait, Plane, Wait, Pint

Things are never dull here at the Addison. I recently served as courier to accompany an object we are lending to the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) in Dublin, Ireland for their Vertical Thoughts: Morton Feldman and the Visual Arts exhibition. The trip was not nearly as long or complex as my adventures with our Coming of Age exhibition, but did have its challenges, and rewards, as well.

The object we lent was an ink on paper by Barnett Newman (see left). Thankfully, it needed only a small crate, a much easier package to deal with than the multitude of large crates I traveled with Coming of Age. I left with it on a truck from our art storage vault to Logan Airport's air cargo facility. I stood with our export and security representatives for hours in the cold warehouse, dodging the speeding forklifts, waiting for another shipment to come in that would share the pallet with my crate on the plane. As it turned out, that other shipment was canceled, and our wait had been in vain. However, my crate ended up traveling on its own pallet, an ideal situation for fragile artwork and a best case scenario for any museum Registrar.

Finally, the crate and I were on the plane for the red eye to Dublin. And red eye it was for I didn't sleep a wink on the flight. When I arrived just under six hours later, it was morning, and time for another wait in the cold outside Dublin Airport's air cargo facility. Well over an hour later, the crate was loaded on the truck and we made our way through the Dublin Port Tunnel, across the Liffey, and into the parking lot of the IMMA (see below).

I had yet another wait in the cold, this time in drizzle, for security to let us into the exhibition space. But finally, the crate was safe and in place within the museum. I still had one more wait, this time for 24 hours for the crate to acclimate to the IMMA's interior climate, before it could be opened and the object inspected and installed. I didn't spend that wait in the cold, however. After being awake for over 36 hours, I got a nice, long, uninterrupted night's sleep at my hotel (a true luxury for someone with an infant at home) and managed a moment to enjoy a pint of "fresh" Guinness on Irish soil.

The installation went smoothly with IMMA's fabulous crew, and then I was on a flight back home the following day. It was a fast trip, but I've gotten used to doing them once or twice a year. You have to take the good with the bad: wear warm clothes, learn to pass time, be ever vigilant, and of course, enjoy the pints when you can get them!

Posted by:

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

Friday, March 19, 2010

Social Impact

Recently, Addison Registrar and Financial Administrator Denise Johnson and I attended an event entitled “Telling our Story: the Local Cultural Council 2010 Statewide Assembly.” We were addressed by state legislators, the head of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the president of Americans for the Arts, one of the leading national non-profit arts advocacy groups.

As one might expect, the speakers discussed the concerns facing the arts community as a result of the current economic climate. This was not merely an opportunity to lament financial setbacks, however. It was a time to reevaluate the importance of arts and cultural institutions and where their funding needs fit into federal, state, and personal budgets.

At the Addison, the collection itself is a precious trove of American art and culture to be conserved and shared with students, artists, and lovers of art in the Phillips Academy community and far beyond, as it has been for generations past and will be for generations to come. For many people, supporting that legacy is cause enough. But for others, the hardship they see in today’s world leads them to question their philanthropic priorities. It is difficult for museum lovers — and museum employees — to accept that, because the art is so close to our hearts. We must recognize, however, that these issues are being raised every day, and we must face them. It was this most pressing of concerns that the speakers at the Assembly confronted.

Art can be beautiful. It can be moving, disturbing, whimsical, evocative, and powerful. It can also be an economic and social force. Arts education reaches students at risk of failure and connects them to their schools and their communities1. Art is good for our children. In some of our poorest cities, like Lawrence, MA, where the Addison’s Education Department provides extensive services, young people with exposure to arts and arts education are more likely to have low rates of juvenile delinquency and truancy2. Art lowers crime and helps fight the cycle of poverty. Workers trained in arts and cultural fields drive the success of leading industries, including software development, telecommunications, and new media3. Art prepares students for the jobs of the future. In Massachusetts alone, arts and cultural nonprofits employ 37,000 people, collect and pay $6.6 million in state sales taxes, and have a total economic impact of over $4.2 billion4. Art powers the job market and the economy.

The benefits hardly stop there. Bringing arts and culture into a neighborhood is one of the most successful means of revitalizing it. One need look no further than the DUMBO district in Brooklyn or downtown Lowell, Massachusetts to see flourishing examples of struggling areas revitalized by the introduction of artists, arts organizations, and cultural offerings.

What this Statewide Assembly brought home to me is how vast an impact the arts have. It is an influence that goes far beyond the intellectual or emotional appeal of works of art or cultural offerings. We must advocate for our arts institutions and for arts funding on the local, state, and federal level in order not only to preserve access to these institutions, but also to protect the social and economic benefits they provide. If you would like to let your state or US congresspersons or senators know about the importance of support for the arts, you can visit the Contact Elected Officials page of the website to find names, phone numbers, and addresses for all your representatives.

Art matters, perhaps more now than ever before.

Posted by:

Samantha Katzen
Development Associate

1. “Creative Economy Initiative: The Role of the Arts and Culture in New England’s Economic Competitiveness,” The New England Council, 2000.
2. “The Gifts of the Muse: Reframing the Debate About the ‘Benefits of the Arts’,” by Kevin F. McCarthy, Elizabeth H. Ondaatje, Laura Zakaras, and Arthur Brooks, the RAND Corporation, 2004.
3. “Culture Builds Community: Evaluation Summary Report,” by Mark J. Stern and Susan C. Seifert, Social Impact of the Arts Project, University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work, 2002.
4. “New England’s Creative Economy: The Non-Profit Sector,” 2002 by Gregory H. Wassail Ph.D and Douglas DeNatale Ph.D, New England Foundation for the Arts, 2005.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Seeing Carroll Dunham from a New Perspective

Several Addison staff members made the trip to Albany, New York, to see our traveling exhibition Carroll Dunham Prints: A Survey open at the University Art Museum at SUNY-Albany.

Consisting of 119 prints, the UAM space offers a new perspective on Dunham’s graphic work. At the Addison, the exhibition was displayed chronologically and divided into four galleries, unearthing gripping vantage points through each doorway. Here, the visual progression of Dunham’s prints—abstract yet simultaneously figurative, spontaneous yet deliberate—is revealed upon first entry into SUNY’s enormous two-level gallery (see images above and below, click to make bigger). If you stand and twirl in the gallery’s center, the chronological sequence evolves, your point of origin gradually fades, and you become immersed in the polymorphous shapes, vibrant colors and semi-abstract figures of Dunham’s work.

It has been a veritable pleasure working with the University Art Museum's staff to make this show possible. The exhibition will be up through April 3rd so be sure to see it while it is there!

Posted by

Jaime DeSimone
Charles H. Sawyer Curatorial Fellow


James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

Monday, February 22, 2010

Deaccesioning in the Museum World: A Message from the Director

Today we hear again from guest poster Brian T. Allen, the Addison Gallery's Mary Stripp & R. Crosby Kemper Director, this time regarding deaccessioning policies in museums:

Recently I returned to Andover from the annual meeting of the Association of Art Museum Directors, the key organization representing the major museums in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Over the past few years, the dominant issue at this conference has been the restitution of stolen art, primarily Nazi loot but more recently antiquities. On both accounts the Addison could take a politely interested but ultimately distanced view. But in this past meeting in January a new issue emerged to displace the mighty topic of restitution: the sale of art from permanent collections to pay for operating expenses.

The centrality of this issue merely reflects the temper of the times. Many museums are under enormous financial pressures as endowments have dropped, visitorship continues a long term decline, and donors have become strapped for disposable cash. Many museums facing financial problems have substantial assets – art in the permanent collection – and more and more directors and trustees are seeing the sale of some of these assets as a quick fix.

The Association of Art Museum Directors decided years ago to thwart temptations of this kind with a simple, straightforward rule. It is a violation of museum ethics to use money from the sale of a work of art accessioned in the permanent collection for any reason other than the purchase of new art.

There are many reasons for this standard. When an object enters a permanent collection, it becomes part of the history of the museum and part of the cultural heritage of the community the museum serves. It enters the collection via a curatorial decision that it will advance the educational mission of the museum. Selling art to pay the bills is an assault on the mission and heritage of the museum and an affront to the proposition that art has a unique power to educate and to inspire.

There are practical reasons as well for this standard. Selling art to support operating expenses puts the museum on a very slippery slope indeed. Trustees and major donors, if they know that this avenue is available for balancing the budget, will pressure museum directors and curators to sell art rather than write checks themselves to support the museum. Why should a donor give money to a museum that has ample assets to liquidate as opposed to the local animal shelter, theater company, or hospital that has no such assets? The risks to the museum are enormous, and the effects of selling art to pay operating expenses are deeply corrosive.

This issue will stay with us for some time. The Association of Art Museum Directors has its standard but the American Association of Museums, which represents art museums, historical societies, house museums, and science and children's museums, has a critically different standard. The American Association of Museums allows for the sale of art to support and purchase new art and the undefined cause of “direct collection care.” Each institution is free to interpret this rule in its own way. It could be interpreted liberally to include not only conservation of works of art but salaries for registrars, curators and even for the portion of the electric bill commensurate with the percentage of the museum building occupied by art storage. Given the terrible state of museum finances, this may indeed evolve as the museum standard as a way to smuggle new money into museum coffers.

Many museums are seeking to tap endowments dedicated to acquisitions for operating expenses, and these museums are not institutions at the margins of the museum world. In this dangerous and ambiguous world, there will be much more to report to you in the future as this story unfolds.

Posted by:

Brian T. Allen
The Mary Stripp & R. Crosby Kemper Director

Monday, February 15, 2010

Thinking Outside the Frame

“Going out into the world and seeing people who live, breathe, and ARE their art was incredible.”

In order to help students think outside the frame for a self-portrait assignment, the Addison Gallery arranged for three Lawrence High School photography classes to visit three art galleries in the SoWa (South of Washington Street) neighborhood of Boston’s South End.

"Visiting the exhibit clarified my goal…”

At Gallery Kayafas, Arlette Kayafas talked students through the taxonomic groupings of portraits by August Sander, the seemingly candid street scenes by Jules Aarons, and the portraits of women and children in Lebanon by Rania Matar.

One student, who had been struggling to find the best way to format her desire to use a series of photographs of the moon to express her individuality, was inspired by Sanders’s “wall photos side by side creating just one of his main topic.” She now plans to use this grouping idea to generate visual interest in her image.

“I remember a certain piece of art that was so small that people had to get really close to see the shape and detail. It was fascinating! So, I’ll put small details in my [work] that will stand out by making people focus more.”

At Carroll and Sons, Joseph Carroll invited students to explore works from the Boston Drawing Project, created to make works on paper available to a larger audience. This incredibly wide variety of works, ranging from paintings and drawings to photographs and collage, inspired students to think about creative modes of expression for their self-portraits.

“I plan on adding some of the artists’ techniques into my own artwork, such as creative textures and repeated patterns for the background of my photos.”

“I noticed that artists don’t just have one thing that they’re influenced by. For example, Raul was influenced by his culture, where he grew up, his own likes and imagination, AND Japanese anime! He displayed all of that in his work and I plan to collaborate most of my passions and influences into my work as well.”

Raul Gonzalez, whose exhibition of drawings, animations, paintings, and an artist book featuring fictional characters that play on vintage animations and cartoons, entitled “Lookum Here: It Might Could Have Been,” was on display at Carroll and Sons, talked through his inspiration, process, and work with students. This opportunity to meet an exhibiting artist moved some students think more about their own artistic process

“I’m thinking of getting a sketchbook and drawing specific characters I always draw… The art gallery showed me that I can most likely integrate my cartooning tendencies with photography as long as the main idea stays intact.”

“You can barely notice where he cut the image.”

At the Howard Yezerski Gallery, students were fascinated with the collages and photomontages of John O’Reilly. Comparisons between his work and the works on paper by other artists in the exhibition inspired other students to consider the applications of these techniques in their own work.

“I am going to use John O’Reilly’s focus on collage and incorporate it into my text. I want to take a picture of our student body at lunch and then take pictures of different letters for my text.”

As one student realized, having the exposure to artists and artwork, “instead of looking at someone’s artwork online or in a book,” greatly widens their approaches to their assignment and their work as artists outside the classroom. “I’ve realized that artistic freedom is limitless.”

Posted by
Jamie Kaplowitz
Education Fellow