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

Monday, January 22, 2018

Flora in Winter Designer’s Quest for the Cup!

Sally Jablonksi, longtime designer for Flora in Winter and, has been selected as one of the top ten designers in the United States to compete in the FTD America’s Cup in Washington DC this year. Ms. Jablonski entered three photos of her arrangement designs from previous years of Flora in Winter. The three works she entered were floral designs for Portrait of a Man with a Gun-Ralph Earl, The Betrayal of Christ, and Christ's Decent into Limbo - Circle of Gillis Mostaert. FTD America’s Cup is a national competition that selects one individual to represent both FTD and the United States in the 2019 FTD-Interflora-Fleurop World Cup Design Competition which is the world’s most prestigious floral design competition. During the course of the competition designers will face time limits, pressure and each other for the right to represent the FTD and the United States. Join us in congratulating and cheering-on Sally as she competes in Washington DC over the 4th of July weekend.

Sally has competed in multiple FTD competitions in the 80’s and 90’s including the 1989 FTD World Competition in Tokyo. Sally has also placed second in the 2012 Connecticut State Floral Design Competition and second in the 2013 Connecticut State Floral Competition Masters. Don’t miss her design this year for The Discovery of Honey by Bacchus, Piero di Cosimo.

To learn more about the FTD competition please visit http://ftdi.com/ftdamericascup/


Monday, January 15, 2018

New Local Artist Rotation Makes its Debut

A John Pagano painting &ndash: Infatuation (A Place to Go)
John Pagano, Infatuation (A Place to Go), 2016,
acrylic polymer on canvas, Collection of the Artist
The Worcester Art Museum is happy to announce the debut of an ongoing art rotation dedicated to artists who live and/or work in the Worcester region. Located in WAM’s “After ‘45” galleries, the rotation seeks to highlight the diversity of artistic talent here in Central Massachusetts. The inaugural display features John Pagano, a well-known local painter whose work is often on display regionally at institutions such as the Fitchburg Art Museum, ArtsWorcester, and most recently in a monographic exhibition dedicated to the artist at Worcester’s contemporary art space, the Sprinkler Factory.

A Worcester native, John Pagano’s paintings characteristically straddle the line between representation and abstraction. Pagano prefers acrylic paint, a medium associated with vibrant colors and crisp edges. Artists often favor acrylics when seeking a more matte, graphic quality to their work. However, Pagano’s use of the hard-edged acrylic paint combined with his expressive style, simultaneously conveys the appearance of fluid and frozen gestures.

Pagano describes Infatuation (A Place to Go) as an aquatic landscape that emerged organically through recurring shapes, colors and markmaking. He specifically notes the “blooming flower-type shape” seen in the three gray forms with sensuous red and pink outgrowths. According to Pagano, these shapes evolve into “a symbol of an infatuation, an attraction, an invention.” This painting is one of two canvases Pagano created in 2016 with the title Infatuation. Both feature the open, blossoming forms.

Pagano’s Infatuation is on view at the Worcester Art Museum until May 6, 2018.

-Nancy Kathryn Burns, Associate Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Last Defense: The Genius of Japanese Meiji Metalwork

One hundred and fifty years ago samurai arms and armor overnight transformed from symbols of power and prestige of the samurai warrior class to nostalgic curios.  With the start of the Meiji revolution in 1868, power effectively transferred from the samurai class to the emperor.  In the arts, the decline of the samurai class most directly affected metalworkers who had to innovate and rescale their skills from making tour de force works of combat and defense to fine decorative works for the new flourishing export market as well as the court.  Instead of working for a samurai lord who would demand the best work regardless of cost, metalworkers and armorers had to appeal to a new clientele that desired quality as well as value for their money.  Last Defense: The Genius of Japanese Meiji Metalwork celebrates the ingenuity and creativity of the last generation of classically trained metalmakers during this rapid period of transition from the late 19th century into the new modern age.

Metalworking training in the previous Edo period (1603-1868) would start from an early age completing years of menial chores in the atelier of a master metalworker before receiving any substantial instruction.  Eventually, the successful apprentice would be adopted into the master’s family and then establish his own workshop to carry on their tradition of making.  Based on this strong foundation of Edo period craftsmanship, elite armorers such as the dominant four centuries-old Myochin family adapted their skills in remarkable ways.

Samurai arms and armor forms and techniques became inspiration for decorative artworks, such as an incense burner in the shape of a miniaturized helmet and a finely articulated dragon on view in the current exhibition.  As the new markets could not discern cheap imitations from fine works, however, master metalworkers had to lower their standards or shut down.  By the 1940s such outstanding mastery and splendor in metal making was rarely ever seen again.

-Vivian Li, Assistant Curator of Asian Art

Monday, October 23, 2017

Armor Invasion!

Suit of armor on display in the Renaissance galleries The next time you visit our Renaissance painting galleries you will notice some dramatic changes. We have started integrating suits of armor into the galleries, getting more of the Higgins Armory collection on view for our visitors. As curator at the Armory for 15 years, I was often frustrated that I could never show the suits of armor in connection with other kinds of objects of the period. The limitations of a small museum also meant that I was never able to put significant resources into how the armor was displayed. So I’m pretty thrilled by the new installation—these armors have never looked better. We put a lot of effort into helping visitors get a feel for how they actually looked on a human being, and seeing them in relation to other artworks of the period helps put them into their proper setting. So come see some star suits from the Higgins Collection, now in their “natural habitat” for the very first time in centuries!

- Jeffrey L. Forgeng, Curator of Arms & Armor and Medieval Art

Monday, September 18, 2017

The WAM Experience - Reflections of a Summer Intern

As a curatorial intern at the Worcester Art Museum I had the opportunity to gain a one-of-a-kind experience behind the scenes of the museum.

I mainly worked on preparing mannequins for four suits of armor and a chain mail shirt for the Renaissance Galleries and Medieval Gallery. Like any other job, this one had its challenges. Dressing the mannequins was the most difficult part. I couldn’t use a sewing machine because the clothing had to be sewn in place on the mannequins. The work was even harder when I had to hold the mannequin up with one hand while sewing its pants with the other! However, the day we went to the storage room and loaded the armor onto the finished mannequins I was rewarded with a glimpse of the completed project. Seeing something I made coming together, and knowing that it will be on display, made me particularly proud, because in my own way I played a significant part in an important project at the museum. A few days later I had the pleasure of seeing one of the suits of armor in its glass case, ready for the public to enjoy it. All the hard work had finally paid off and the obstacles I encountered made me more experienced.

My internship wasn’t just making clothes for the mannequins. I loved taking part in Free Fun Friday, interacting with visitors in the museum’s Medieval Galleries. I was part of the team staffing the medieval cart, helping kids and grownups try on reproduction armor. Through this experience, the visitors were not limited to just looking at objects, they had a chance to feel the material and weight and understand the function of the objects they saw on display.

Throughout my internship I was included in decisionmaking, my opinion was always taken into account and I was always part of a team. The staff were always willing to advise and guide me in the projects I worked on. My internship at the Worcester Art Museum created a solid foundation for my future—thank you to everyone who made it an amazing experience for me.

- Sofia Pitouli, Curatorial Intern

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Summer Youth Student Exhibition on view now

The Higgins Education Wing will exhibit artwork created by young artists as a part of the Studio Art Program’s summer classes from August 5 – September 17. Our Summer Youth Student Exhibition presents over 200 works of art by young artists from 50 classes in the areas of painting, sculpture, illustration, mixed media, and printmaking. The exhibition features a wide range of visual practices, spanning many genres and media.

Artwork by WAM Student Jane Curran
Our philosophy places value on the process of creating art and learning to think and respond creatively. We provide an environment where students can explore other cultures through our outstanding collection of artworks from antiquities to contemporary art. Students will have the opportunity to try new materials and gain self-confidence. All youth, not just those with perceived talents, benefit from working with art materials and learning about self-expression.

The exhibition, located in the Higgins Education Wing, is free and open to the public Sunday–Saturday, from 9am to 5pm. Register for a WAM Studio Art Class to be eligible for our next student exhibition! WAM’s fall session for adult starts September 11th and youth/teen classes start September 23rd. 

Click here for more information about faculty and their classes or to register today. 
- Ashley Occhino, Manager of Studio Class Programs

Monday, August 28, 2017

New hours and admission prices take effect September 1


Starting on September 1, the Worcester Art Museum will have new hours.  The galleries will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 10am to 4pm and on the third Thursday of each month from 10am to 8pm.  The Lancaster Street Welcome Center will be open Monday through Friday from 9am to 6:30pm, Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 4pm.

In addition, there will be a modest increase in the cost of admission for adults, seniors, and college students. The new admission prices are $16 for adults and $14 for seniors and college students. The admission price for ages 4-17 remains $6.  There is no admission charge for children ages 3 and under. Admission is always free for anyone who would like to purchase a Museum membership. 
Why is the Museum changing the hours it is open?  We know that both school groups and families with young children prefer to visit in the morning, while attendance overall tends to taper off by late-afternoon. By opening and closing an hour earlier, we will be able to meet the needs of all of our audiences and to be more efficient in staffing the galleries.

Why is the Museum increasing its admission fees?  The modest increase in the Museum’s admission fees will help pay for the programs, exhibitions, collections, and services that our visitors enjoy.  We will continue to offer Free First Saturday mornings and Free August, so that everyone—regardless of ability to pay admission—can have transformative art experiences at WAM. 
In addition, the Museum participates in the EBT Card to Culture program offering EBT cardholders reduced admission of $2 cash per person for up to four people.   EBT Card to Culture is a collaboration between the Mass Cultural Council and the Executive Office of Health and Human ServicesDepartment of Transitional Assistance.  It ensures the state’s best cultural and educational experiences are accessible to low-income residents.   

If you have any questions about these changes, please don’t hesitate to contact us at wamupdates@worcesterart.org.
-   Julieane K. Frost, Manager of Marketing, Communications and Design

Recent WAM Updates