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, August 24, 2015

Have art, will travel!

Have you visited the lively colored Art Carts that have popped up around the museum lately? An Art Cart is a mobile, educational tool that allows families and children an opportunity to interact with art in a fun and educational way. Inside the Art Carts are a variety of activities, ranging from coloring sheets of Helmutt the dog, a mosaic activity, try on reproduction armor, origami cats, and medieval board games. Just to name a few!

Come for a visit and see what we have out! Art Carts are located in the Renaissance Court, Salisbury Hall, and Helmutt’s House in Knights! Ask at our Information Desks for more on times and locations or see our website by clicking the link below:.

2015 Art Cart Hours

Wednesdays, Thursdays & Fridays 11:00-12:30, 12:30-2:00 & 2:00-3:30
Saturday & Sunday 11:00-12:30 & 12:30-2:00

September - December
Wednesdays 1:30-3:00
Saturday & Sunday 1:00-2:30 & 2:30-4:00

Learn more about Art Carts

- Neal Bourbeau, Knights! Education Programming Assistant

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

World Photo Day: From Hawaii to Worcester

Having moved to New England from Hawaii, I am always curious to see what artifacts have made it across land and sea before me. Here at WAM I was delighted to find a 19th century travel album featuring photographs taken on the island of Oahu. Many travelers from Europe and America stopped in Hawaii on their way to East Asia, purchasing images of places they visited from commercial photographers. The album in our collection is one of two that record an 1899 trip made to China and Japan by Frances Clary Morse, the founder and first president of the Worcester Garden Club.

The last decade of the 1800s was a contentious time in the islands, as the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown and Hawaii was annexed to the United States. Morse brought documentation of these events back to Worcester in two images, both by Frank Davey, a British photographer who had a commercial studio in Honolulu from 1897 to 1902. The first photo was taken at the Annexation ceremony on August 12, 1898, when Hawaii formally became a territory of the United States.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Olmec "Incised Standing Figure" may be a Star God

Together with Professor Karl Taube at the University of California, Riverside, I have been researching a WAM Olmec object formerly titled Figure of a Man, but now more accurately labeled Incised Standing Figure. The object was once owned by the famous Mexican caricaturist, Miguel Covarrubias, who was also an important archaeologist. He was a friend of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. All three artists shared a passion for Mexico’s history. When the object entered WAM’s collection in 1958, the marks around its mouth remained a mystery. Dr. Taube has now plausibly suggested the pattern of incisions relate to other Olmec glyphs of a star sign, probably the morning star more commonly identified as the planet Venus. Venus appears in the sky for roughly three hours after sunset and three hours before sunrise. Later Mexican cultures envisioned a great battle between the morning star and the rising sun, and the morning star seems to have held symbolic importance for warriors. The Maya, who succeeded the Olmec in coastal Veracruz and Tabasco, established the long count of their calendar system with the aid of Venus. So Worcester’s object may be one of the earliest depictions of this Mesoamerican star deity in human form – created around 2,800 years ago. To learn more about this object, watch for it in the Jeppson Idea Lab on the third floor opening November 14th.

Learn more about Incised Standing Figure

-John Garton, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Clark University

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Medieval Priest Teaches Swordfighting

Today I received my author copies of The Art of Swordsmanship by Hans Lecküchner. This gorgeously illustrated manuscript was composed 1482 by a parish priest, and it’s the single most substantial medieval source on how to fight with a one-handed sword. You might not expect a priest to know much about swordfighting, but Lecküchner had studied at the University of Nuremberg—Nuremberg students were already notorious for swordfighting in the Middle Ages. I first sent my completed translation of Lecküchner’s manuscript to a publisher in 2004, so you can imagine how glad I am that the book is now available!

The weapon used by the swordfighters is called a langes Messer (literally “long knife”). You can see a beautiful example, made for the Austrian court at about the time of Lecküchner’s manuscript, in WAM’s Knights! exhibition. Incidentally, you can also learn how to use swords like this from WAM’s swordplay instructor Krista Baker. But you’d better sign up soon—I hear next week’s class is already sold out!

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

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