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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

New! Touch Carts

As Head of Education, my goal is to welcome all audiences—from babies to centennials!—to the Worcester Art Museum where they can experience the joy of being in the presence of great art. To support this goal, we decided to create Touch Carts (inspired by similar carts at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art) where kids can learn about as well as experience first-hand what happens if you touch art made of wood, metal, stone, or other materials. We chose Helmutt, our kid-friendly dog to share tips about what you can and can’t touch. Yes, there are things in the art museum that you CAN touch—check out Helmutt’s own house, as well as the touch objects and interactive iPads in the Knights exhibition.

The Touch Carts are now on the floor at the entrances to the museum. Bring your kids and try them out. We all need gentle reminders about how to protect our art, so everyone—now and in the future—can get inspired, over and over again.

Ask for Helmutt’s family guide to the Museum at the Visitor Services desk, and look for Helmutt’s paw prints in the galleries.

We hope you’ll bring your kids back soon to discover where Helmutt will pop up next!

- Marcia Lagerwey, Head of Education

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Orante statues are back on view by popular demand!

The three ancient statues from South Italy—the focus of WAM’s first Idea Lab—are now installed permanently in the Greek Gallery.  On the iPad, read their exciting story that started in underground tombs where they accompanied deceased wealthy citizens along with their precious belongings.  Find out how they came to Worcester and what discoveries the conservators made when they restored them in WAM’s conservation lab.  

KIDS! Check out the activities on the iPad.  Try putting a broken statue back together and paint it.  Did you know that these statues were painted in bright colors thousands of years ago when they were placed in tombs with the dead?

- Paula Artal-Isbrand, Objects Conservator

Friday, October 17, 2014

Now on view: Helmet for a Gladiator

As curator of the Higgins Collection of arms and armor, I can’t avoid the occasional shudder when I think about the blood in which many of these artifacts were once soaked. There’s no object that gives me that feeling more than the one we’ve just put on display —an outstandingly rare gladiator’s helmet, one of very few such objects to be found today outside of European museums. It was probably worn by a hoplomachus, a gladiator whose equipment imitated the arms of a Greek heavy infantryman.

At their height, the gladiatorial combats were akin to Deadliest Warrior: the games pitted stylized versions of various nationalities against each other to enhance the drama of the fight. The combats were always asymmetric, which also enhanced their crowd appeal. But the blood and death were very real, and I can’t help wondering what brutality this helmet witnessed during its day.

Still, these events happened very long ago, and today amidst the serenity of the Worcester Art Museum, this object has much to teach us about the harsh realities of times past—and about the dark and twisting recesses of the human mind that still haunt us today.

Click to read more about Helmet for a Gladiator

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

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Holy Alternative History, Batman!

With the arrival of fall, we’re turning a new page in the Knights! exhibition. To be more precise, we’ve installed a new Batman comic to accompany the costume made for Michael Keaton in the 1989 film Batman. Our first was a 1940 issue of Detective Comics. Now the saga of the Dark Knight continues with a 1943 issue of Batman. When it first appeared, Allied forces were battling Germany in Tunisia and Japan at Guadalcanal. The outcome of the war was still far from certain, and even the Caped Crusader was recruited into the effort. In the main story of this issue, Batman and Robin visit the historians of Gotham University for a glimpse of America’s future. Professors Proe and Con offer two possible visions—one a dark and violent world where Batman and Robin have to fight German and Japanese occupiers, the other a brighter future in which they prevent a planned invasion and bring about an Allied victory. Inspired, the Dynamic Duo rush out to invest in War Bonds, “as many as this money will buy!”

Many thanks to Ted VanLiew of Superworld Comics for the loan of these vintage Batman comics!

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

Friday, October 10, 2014

Take a seat!

Have you noticed there are more chairs around the Museum lately?  It started with the KNIGHTS! exhibition, where we provide comfortable bean bags chairs in Helmutt’s House for our younger visitors.  Now, chairs are popping up in other galleries, too.  It’s all part of our effort to help you feel more comfortable while visiting the Museum – and also to give you more flexibility in their visit.

The latest addition are black Thonet Chairs  in the [remastered] and American galleries.  First designed by Michael Thonet in 1859, these chairs are fixtures in cafes all around the world. At WAM, we invite you to enjoy these new chairs and make yourself feel at home. Feel free to move the chairs around -- up close to look at a specific detail in a work of art or farther away to get a full view of the work. Or, move the chairs together in the galleries to have a conversation or to read one of the books available in the [remastered] galleries or Salisbury Court portable libraries. The seats are there for your enjoyment. We hope you like them.

Happy seating!

- Adam Rozan, Director of Audience Engagement.

P.S.  By the way, our bean bag chairs are designed by FatBoy. We love the colors of these bean bags, the size of them and can’t help smiling every time we see people sitting in them.

Recent WAM Updates