Welcome to WAM Updates

WAM Updates are short, informal posts that put the spotlight on small, but exciting, Museum-related projects, such as the addition of a new painting or sculpture to a gallery. They also serve as updates on staff, new services or programs, and other WAM news.

We hope you like reading the Updates! If you are interested in learning about something specific, or have a suggestion for a WAM Update, please update us at wamupdates@worcesterart.org

Friday, April 14, 2017

Welcoming “little ones” to WAM

As a parent with two young children myself, I understand the challenges of visiting cultural institutions as a family. Art museum visits can seem doubly stressful to parents of young children. However, WAM’s renewed focus on supporting family visits—especially to support preschool audiences—should put your minds at ease.

One of our new initiatives is Helmutt’s Drop-In Studio, a place for kids to unlock their imaginations and get creative. Operating during set hours, this staffed studio space in the Higgins Education Wing hosts projects related to our exhibitions and permanent collections. The studio is first-come, first-served, so that our staff educators can devote special attention to your children.

We’ve also implemented a new Stroller Tour program, which has been very popular. This group meets on the first and third Wednesday of each month, a half hour before the Museum opens—so families have devoted private time to themselves to enjoy the galleries, and each other. These tours focus on family-friendly themes and are followed by snacks in Helmutt’s Drop-In Studio, providing an opportunity for Moms, Dads, or other caregivers to socialize.

Kids get hungry, so the Museum Café offers a special children’s menu, and the Sip Cart in the Lancaster Welcome Center has quick-service snacks and lunches. You can also bring your own snacks to eat in the Welcome Center or, in nice weather, the Stoddard Courtyard. Parents can feel free to breast or bottle feed their infants anywhere in the Museum.

Are you planning a visit to WAM with your little ones? Here are some tips for making your time here enjoyable.
  1. Know before you go: Check the Museum’s hours, amenities, accessible entrances, daily programs, and exhibition schedule on our website before you head out. Plot out what is most important for you to get out of your visit.
  2. Visit for free: A WAM family membership pays for itself quickly, especially if you plan on visiting more than one time, plan on taking classes, or to plan on visiting the café or shop. Do the math, it’s worth it!
  3. Use family parking: WAM has designated parking spots for expectant mothers and families with young children. Look for the orange signage in the Salisbury and Tuckerman lots.
  4. Look for the Museum’s Touch Carts: these instructive carts teach our guests what happens to art over time when it is touched. It is a great opportunity to learn Museum rules, and to touch art material in a safe context!
  5. Let the member of your group with the shortest attention span set the length of the visit: This is often your youngest family member, but not always. Follow this person’s lead, and leave when he or she begins to look weary. You can always explore more another day!
Click here for more information on family visits to WAM

Have any suggestions for new programs and amenities to help support your family’s visit to WAM? Let us know your thoughts! Email us at katrinastacy@worcesterart.org

- Katrina Stacy, Associate Curator of Education

Friday, March 10, 2017

Worcester State University Student Presentations in Spanish on 'Highest Heaven'

At special event on Thursday, April 20th from 6-7:30 Worcester State University graduate students will present their research on paintings and artifacts in the exhibition Highest Heaven: Spanish and Portuguese Colonial Art from the Roberta and Richard Huber Collection, in Spanish in the Hiatt Gallery at the Worcester Art Museum. We invite everyone to attend and extend a special welcome to those in Worcester’s Spanish-speaking community for an in-depth look at these stunning paintings and their cultural contexts. The presenters, Poliana Alarcon, Carolyn Bernier, Zachary D'Orsi, Elizabeth Flaherty, Am Cecil Fuoti, Juan Hernandez, Jenny Lizardo, Adriana Lugo Zayas, Kerry Moynihan, Nora O’Brien, Thomas Pokoly, Gloria Rivera, and Scott Sponseller, are all students in Dr. Antonio Guijarro-Donadios’ class “Conquistadors and the Conquered: Gold, Religion, and Colonial Culture in the High Plains of South America.”

The students visited WAM in March and each chose an object from the exhibition. Then, with the help of their professor along with the WAM librarian Deborah Aframe, they conducted research in the Museum library and wrote a paper connecting the art object, their research and their course studies on colonial narratives.

The event will be held as part of WAM’s Third Thursday events, monthly evenings offering live music, cheese and crackers, and a cash bar. The Museum will be open until 8 pm. Students from institutions such as WSU that have a WAM institutional membership receive free entrance to the Museum with their WSU ID. For more information about the event contact aguijarrodonadios@worcester.edu or kwaters@worcester.edu

Learn more about Highest Heaven

- Kristin Waters, Ph.D.

Presidential Fellow for Art, Education, and Community
Professor of Philosophy
Worcester State University

Image: Our Lady of Candlemas with Donors, Roberta and Richard Huber Collection. Photograph by Graydon Wood, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Youth Art Month exhibition coming in March

Worcester Art Museum is excited to again host a regional Youth Art Month exhibition this March. Organized by teachers from area school districts in conjunction with the Worcester Art Museum, this multi-media exhibit features student artwork from communities across central Massachusetts. Established in 1961, Youth Art Month (YAM) is an annual observance in March designed to emphasize the value of art education for all youth and to encourage support for quality school art programs. YAM provides a forum for acknowledging skills that are fostered through experiences in the visual arts.

YAM encourages support for quality school art programs and promotes art material safety. The Council for Art Education (CFAE) administers the program at the national level. The program provides a medium for recognizing skills developed through visual arts experiences unlike any other curriculum subjects, including special exhibits that take place annually to celebrate visual art education for grades K – 12. YAM is a month in which thousands of American schools participate every year.

On Sunday, March 12, 2017 an opening reception will be held at the Worcester Art Museum for students and their families. Families are welcomed to attend the opening reception for Grades K-8 between 12:30pm-2:30pm, during which time there will be guest speakers and student musical performances to enjoy.

The exhibit will be open to the public March 1 through April 2 in the Higgins Education Wing of the Worcester Art Museum. Admission to this exhibit is free. In addition to the Worcester Art Museum’s regional YAM exhibit, the Massachusetts Art Education Association will host a statewide YAM exhibit at the Transportation Building in Boston on Sunday, March 26, 2017.

Learn more about Youth Art Month

- Ashley Occhino, Manager of Studio Class Programs

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Ed Emberley Book Week

I fondly remember my first Ed Emberley drawing book, Ed Emberley’s Big Purple Drawing Book. This book not only introduced me to the world of drawing, but also fed my imagination. From this book I spent hours drawing the images from this book and doing so over and over again. It is because of my experience and that of so many other adults and children that we are observing and sharing Ed Emberley Book Week from February 19-25, 2017.

The Ed Emberley Book Week is designed to encourage readers and artists of all ages to read, draw, and celebrate the gift of imagination and the many worlds created by Emberley and his books. The Ed Emberley Book Week is perfect for libraries and librarians, schools and teachers, parents and children all over the world to draw attention to the works of Ed Emberley. We’ve made the following Book Week tools available for your usage:

  • A special week of programming at the Worcester Art Museum and the Worcester Public Library, in conjunction with KAHBAHBLOOOM: The Art and Storytelling of Ed Emberley, on view at WAM through April 9, 2017
  • Ed Emberley Coloring Sheets
  • Curriculum Guides for K-2 Teachers
  • Book Week Reading List Recommendations
  • Make-Your-Own-Ed Emberley Book Week Poster!

Please join the Worcester Art Museum in celebrating this storyteller and artist. Pick up a book and read to a class, create a display at your library, school or book store, take to social media and share your masterpiece with us.

Visit Ed Emberley Book Week for more information and happy reading!

Learn more about the Ed Emberley Book Week
Learn more about KAHBAHBLOOOM: The Art and Storytelling of Ed Emberley 

- Adam Rozan, Director of Audience Engagement

Monday, January 30, 2017

Now On View: Changing Colors at Court

Two magnificent objects created for the Chinese imperial court have recently been installed in the Chinese Decorative Arts Gallery—a Ming dynasty 16th-century wucai porcelain dish depicting a garden scene and a Qing dynasty 18th-century cloisonné enamel incense burner. The two objects represent new possibilities for polychrome decoration with the use of enamels, or colored powdered glass.

Wucai literally means “five colors” and was an innovation in polychrome decoration for porcelains developed in early 16th-century China. While the number of colors is not strictly limited to five, the wucai palette always includes an intense cobalt blue applied under the clear glaze combined with vivid overglaze enamels, or colored powdered glass fused onto the glazed surface. These enamels commonly were red, green, turquoise, and yellow.

Cloisonné enamel is a method of polychrome decoration for metal wares popular during the Qing dynasty. Wires of bronze or copper are bent and attached to follow the outlines of a decorative design drawn onto the metal body of a vessel, such as the bronze incense burner here. Powdered glass of various colors are applied to fill the decorative design and then fired to melt and fuse them to the body of the vessel, followed by grounding and polishing the surface to create a smooth finish. Colorful and sumptuous, cloisonné enameled objects were primarily intended for decorative and household items in palaces and temples.

- Vivian Li, Assistant Curator of Asian Art


Dish with Design of Pheasant, Garden Rock, Peonies and Peach Boughs
Wanli period (1573-1620) of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644)
Six character (regular script) blue mark:
Da Ming Wanli nian zhi (“Made in the Wanli reign of the great Ming dynasty”)
Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province
Porcelain with wucai painted underglaze cobalt blue and colored enamels over transparent glaze
Private Collection

Qianlong Period; dated 1736–1795
Cloisonné enamel with gilt bronze
Private Collection

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

2016 Collection Year-in-Review

Well, the year 2016 has closed and what a year it was! Here at the Worcester Art Museum, we were hard at work behind-the-scenes, assisting with various projects and tasks.

Every year, WAM continues to build on its internationally acclaimed collection of objects, and this past year did not disappoint. Most notably, was the purchase of a pair of paintings (one pictured below) by Philippe Jacques van Bree (French or Belgian, 1786–1871) titled Interior of the Studio of Van Dael and his students at the Sorbonne (2016.13) and a replica of the same scene done by the same artist (2016.12). The details of these particular works are most charming and deserve closer study, so check it out in the Daniels Gallery (Gallery 206) today! You can see the rest of the impressive new collection items that have been gifted to or purchased by the Museum on our online collection search page called New Acquisitions – 2016.

Not only did we have a healthy stream of acquisitions come through our door, but we also negotiated various exhibitions which pushed the boundaries of what museums can accomplish. Did anyone visit the various components of MEOW? Who else can say that they housed cats in a museum for a month?!

Between receiving new works into the collection and maneuvering a jam-packed exhibition schedule, it is important for museums to also reflect on their present collection holdings. Some time had passed since a thorough collection review had taken place, so this year action began in reviewing some of these holdings. By the end of the year, the end result was quite impressive in that we deaccessioned just under 1,000 objects from our permanent collection. Now, that’s not to say that these objects did not have any sort of value, but many were better suited in other collection holdings, such as historical houses or other museums with different historical/cultural focuses.

We at WAM feel that this information still belongs to the public and are openly sharing the first officially compiled list of deaccessions from 2016. Keep in mind this list does not specify where the object went, or who once owned the object before us. This is merely a “snapshot” of the object while it was under our care.

Here’s to what 2017 will bring us in acquisitions, exhibitions and deaccessioning!

Browse the Worcester Art Museum Collection

- Sarah Gillis, Assistant Registrar, Image Management

Image: Interior of the Studio of Van Dael and his students at the Sorbonne, Philippe Jacques van Bree (French or Belgian, 1786–1871), 1816, oil on canvas, framed: 145 × 177.5 × 11 cm (57 1/16 × 69 7/8 × 4 5/16 in.), Worcester Art Museum (MA), Stoddard Acquisition Fund, 2016.13.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Arts Alternative at WAM

The Higgins Education Wing will exhibit artwork created by young artists who have participated in Arts Alternative, a partnership between the Worcester Juvenile Courts and the Worcester Art Museum. On view from January 28 – February 25, 2017, the exhibition features a wide range of visual practices, spanning many genres and media. This collaboration provides extraordinary opportunities in the arts to court involved youths. Such as hands-on activities, working from primary source material in a museum setting, and opportunities to exhibit their creativity in a community setting.

The youth, some of whom live in foster or group homes, come once a month to WAM for two hours, spending time in our galleries and studio. Fiona Ryder, a juvenile probation officer who created this initiative, said the court usually asks youth what their hobbies are. Although there are a lot of sports programs, the court didn't have anywhere to direct budding artists. "I think a lot of the young people that come through the courts are extremely talented and haven't had an opportunity to explore that talent," she said. "My hope is they have a new avenue to pursue, and they have new interests, and they have a better self-esteem."

The exhibition is free and open to the public. The Higgins Education Wing is open Sunday–Saturday, 9am-5pm.

Learn more about Studio Classes at Worcester Art Museum

- Ashley Occhino, Manager of Studio Class Programs

Image: Worcester Telegram & Gazette

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