Highlights from the Detroit Art Scene: Part II

Posted on March 5th, 2012 by

A blog post by Senior Collections Manager Jobi Zink.

One of the “selling” points of the CAJM conference inDetroitwas the many museums that we would go to. Rather than just attending sessions in one hotel or conference center, we toured a number of museums. Several of the sessions were then related to the exhibitions we just saw.

We began Tuesday morning at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (www.thewright.org)

While I remember Chris Webber for calling a time out for University of Michigan during the 1993 NCAA Championship game when his team did not have any time outs remaining, I learned that he began to collect African American artifacts in 1994. His collection,including slave records and costumes worn by James Brown, was donated to the Wright in 2007.

Our final conference sessions were held at the Detroit Institute of art (www.dia.org). As an art history major specializing in American Art, I felt like I was in heaven!

We ate lunch in the Rivera courtyard, surrounded by “Detroit Industry” murals by Diego Rivera. Rivera was a Marxist who believed that art belonged on public walls rather than in private galleries; he also gave the worker and the manager equal stature in art and in life.

For more details about the 27 panels that Rivera completed in just 11 months click on this link: http:///www.dia.org/art/rivera-court.aspx

I had a flashback to our February 10th field trip to the National Gallery of Art when we came to “Watson and the Shark” by John Singleton Copley. This is the third and smallest version of this painting. The second painting is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Encountering “First State Election in Detroit, Michigan, 1837” by Thomas Mickell Burnham was very timely as Tuesday was theMichigan primary!

Rabbi Sprinzen would be proud that I can still read “Sampson” and “Delilah” in Hebrew. I love the frames on the Elihu Vedder paintings, too!

This piece reminded me a little bit of the Hutzler Cabinet. Must be all of that dark wood and intricate design.

I’ve always found the triptych “Classical Figures” by Thomas Dewing to have a calming effect on me.

I had no idea that all of this amazing art and history was hidden in Detroit. Thank you, Deborah, Josh, Terri & Stephen and the rest of CAJM, for the opportunity to see it all!

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Highlights from the Detroit Arts Scene: Part I

Posted on March 2nd, 2012 by

A blog post by Senior Collections Manager, Jobi Zink

 

This week I went to Detroit, Michigan for the Council of American Jewish Museums (CAJM) conference.  I’ll be honest. I didn’t want to go. After all it was Detroit in February. I was expecting 3 feet of snow on the ground, whipping wind, gangs, abandoned houses, and open drug trade.

Axel Foley (character in Beverly Hills Cop), Rapper Eminem and the movie 8 Mile did not leave an overwhelmingly positive impression of Detroit.

After 4 days of touring museumsin the city and suburbs, my opinions have greatly changed! Mother Nature cooperating with 40 degree days certainly helped, but the arts scene was truly impressive.

It isn’t a trip to Detroit without some Motown.

The Cranbrook Art Museum is on a 175-acre campus. The museum just underwent a $22 million dollar renovation—I couldn’t wait to check it out! http:///www.cranbrookart.edu/museum/

Eliel Saarinen designed the museum in 1942. The sculpture and ponds seem like a natural extension of the building.

Rachel, Elena &LeighAnn relax on a bench in front of a Sol LeWitt mural, part of No Object Is an Island: New Dialogues with the Cranbrook Collection.

The Henry Ford Museum was another enormous facility—the galleries alone are 3 acres, and then there is Greenfield Village and the factory. We only had one hour to tour the exhibitions before sessions began on Monday morning. http:///www.thehenryford.org/

The “exploded” Model T allows visitors to see how the car is assembled, even without visiting the factory.

While many visitors are awestruck by the John F. Kennedy Limousine, I was charmed by Teddy Roosevelt’s Presidential horse-drawn carriage.

It was very powerful to hear the recorded testimony of Rosa Parks about why she didn’t move to the back of the bus in Montgomery, AL in 1955 while I sat in the very seat in the second row that she refused to vacate.

The “With Liberty and Justice for All” exhibition had the chair in which Abraham Lincoln was sitting when he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at the Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC in April 1865.

Someone was working on one of the giant engines in the collection.

E.T. would have his choice of phones. While I didn’t see many cordless phones from the 1990s, the Iphone 4S is on display in the lower left corner.

Model kitchen from the 1930s made me think of the Chosen Food exhibition, as did the model kitchen at the Arab American National Museum.

The dome above a fountain in the lobby and mosaic in the hallway of the Arab American National Museum. http:///arabamericanmuseum.org/

No one from the CAJM contingency was surprised that there were suitcases at the beginning of the main exhibition, “Coming to America.”

The empty case was a powerful reflection of a refugees account, “we brought nothing with us.”

Docent Guy Stern, who just turned 90, gave us a personal tour complete with anecdotes of the “Ritchie Boys” exhibit that he curated at the Holocaust Memorial Center. www.holocaustcenter.org

Check back on Monday for Part II!

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Highlights from the MAAM Conference

Posted on November 4th, 2011 by

A blog post by Senior Collections Manager, Jobi Zink

Earlier this month I attended the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums (MAAM) conference here inBaltimore. I love MAAM because it’s a small conference but there are sessions for all sized-museums. Since it’s a regional conference I am connecting to colleagues who likely know my institution, know local vendors, and who I can call on in an emergency.

Sunday evening there was an opening reception at theSportsLegendsMuseum. In addition to catching up with Lauren Silberman& 2011 summer intern Carrie Coviello, the highlight of the evening was going into the collections vault and holding (with gloves of course!) Babe Ruth’s bat from 1927.

Monday morning I was on the panel for the “Registration in the Real World” session with Heather Kajic (US Holocaust Memorial Museum), Rosie Cook (Chemical Heritage Foundation) and Elizabeth Alberding (The Kelly Collecion of American Illustration). We spoke about what it was like to be a registrar in a large, mid-sized, and small museum, or to work for a private collector. Our panel represented the diversity in the title “registrar” and also focused on the fact that rarely is collections work done in the ideal conditions.

My presentation emphasized the four large archival collections that the JMM acquired since 2009 from Baltimore Hebrew University, National Council of Jewish Women, American Jewish Congress and YeshivatRambam. Planning in advance and utilizing interns was essential for organizing BHU. With that experience as a foundation we were able to bring in YR under less than ideal time constraints. Of course I also addressed the impact on our storage space and what it means for the future of our collections.

In the afternoon I attended “Taking your Museum to the Next Level with MAP & CAP. Former JMM Education & Program Coordinator Lauren Silberman was the moderator. The Museum Assessment Program and Conservation Assessment Programs are designed to strengthen museums, to help them organize their institution and reach higher potential. Since the JMM just completed the Self-Study portion of AAM Re-accreditation, I could empathize with those who have just gone through the process: it is a lot of work to gather everything together, to review and revise policies, to lift the corner of the carpet and see exactly what we’ve been ignoring or overlooking. As a MAP assessor myself (yet to be assigned) I gained a lot from John Simmonds, who spoke about the assessing process, expectations on both sides, and the time commitment involved. The guidelines provided should help the assessor provide constructive feedback rather than be perceived as a Museum Insultant.

Later that afternoon in the expo hall I was talking to two women who were raving about the session they had attended, “Taking Tips from the MySpace Generation: Photos, Photos, Photos.” They were particularly impressed with the Jewish Museum of Maryland’s organization and use of photographs—and how easy it was for our entire staff to find them. Kudos to Rachel Kassman, Elena Rosemond-Hoerr & Jennifer Vess on their presentation.

Mona Lisa made out of JellyBelly brand jelly beans was on display in the expo hall.

Tuesday’s sessions were also excellent. “Strategizing Museum Internships to Meet (and Manage) Everyone’s Expectations” emphasized the need for strong organization, a work plan with some variation, and communication between interns and their supervisors (or a neutral intern supervisor). One thing that I had nearly forgotten was that students pay for their internship credits, (and credits are not cheap) so their internship should be as challenging as a 3 credit classroom class! I came away from this session with some good ideas for supervisor training, brown-bag lunches, as well as the sense that the JMM internship program is pretty well on-track.

JMM interns

“Collection Protection: Keeping your Collections and Facilities Safe from Kids, Caterers and Chaos” was the final session I attended. The two big lessons I learned: have policies that spell out all of the rules—and review your policies in person with each rental, caterer, florist etc., and kindly enforce the rules as you monitor your events.

Tuesday afternoon Elizabeth Alberding, Rosie Cook & I (the RC-MAAM board) came to the JMM to set up for the White Gloves Gang dinner. At 7 PM 32 people gathered in our lobby to visit Voices of Lombard Street, eat, and learn about the important service projects completed by the WGG. Avi Decter spoke about the impact that the WGG has on smaller museums and how this crew gives gangsters a good name. The WGG allows registrars and collections-y people to help smaller museums tackle projects that they couldn’t complete on their own. It also gives students chance to apply classroom knowledge to real life settings.

Thanks to Crozier, Ateleir, MAAM, and AAM Registrar’s Committee for sponsoring dinner. Thanks to Gaylord, Hollinger/Metal Edge, and University Products for donating the museum supplies, and thanks to Ed Noonan/VIP transport for bringing the supplies to us. Thank you to the Fells Point Preservation Society, Historical Society of Baltimore County, Jewish Museum of Maryland, Lovely Lane Archives and Museum,NationalElectronicsMuseum, andSportsLegendsMuseumfor hosting the White Gloves Gang. And of course, thank you to all of the White Gloves Gang volunteers.

Tomasina& Ashley number photographs

Alvania types up boxlists

Ashley cleans a pot for “Chosen Food”

Check out our blog for guest posts from other WGG members!

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