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

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

MCC’s UP-Innovative and Learning Network

Hard to believe, but WAM is nearing completion of the inaugural year of participation in the UP-Innovative Learning Network (ILN) program organized by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. And what an eye-opening, learning experience it has been for WAM’s UP-ILN team!

During the first 10 months of the UP-ILN program, WAM has served as host site for two UP-ILN events; participated in five all-day seminars at fellow UP-ILN institutions state-wide; been the subject of three user-expert site evaluations (two of physical facilities and one of its website); prepared a Webinar follow-up to our site evaluation; collaborated with our “partner-facility”, The Berkshire Museum, to develop Universal Accessibility protocols for our respective facilities; prepared a Logic Model of short term Universal Accessibility goals; and learned from industry experts in immersion workshops about Universal Design, ADA standards for historic buildings and landscapes, Website Accessibility and Graphic Standards for Print & Web, Inclusive Social Media and Social Stories; Technologies for Assisted Hearing and Vision; and finally Disability Etiquette.

As a result of these learning experiences, WAM’s UP-ILN team has developed a series of near-term, mid-term, and long-term objectives. Design and planning are already underway on several of these initiatives. Some will be rolled-out in the coming months. Additionally, WAM is developing a series of internal Universal Accessibility workshops for staff and volunteers. Watch for further details.

In the words of MCC Executive Director Anita Walker, “UP is not a destination, it is a direction.” One very valuable lesson learned by the UP-ILN team this year is that UP is a “state-of-mind”. It requires a new way of thinking for many “abled” people, but once achieved Universal Accessibility goals are often easily obtainable.

WAM will be conducting a visitor survey within the next two months to measure changes in perception regarding Universal Accessibility. Please help us by completing this survey.

Learn more about the UP-Innovative Learning Network (ILN) program

- Trip Anderson, Grants Officer

Friday, September 25, 2015

Hayakawa Shōkosai III

It is common for Japanese artists to master several unrelated art forms. The current exhibition in the Japanese Gallery, The Baskets of Hayakawa Shōkosai III, features an artist who was a renowned basket maker as well as an accomplished ink painter, calligrapher, tea master, and flute player. This installation includes an intricately woven bamboo basket and an ink painting of a flower basket by Shōkosai III (1864-1922).

The exacting craft of bamboo basketry was elevated to a high art by the artist’s father, Hayakawa Shōkosai I (1815-1897). An important element in Japanese tea ceremonies, bamboo flower baskets were in particularly high demand in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The bamboo artist is responsible for every step of the process of basket making. There are no shortcuts or ways to mechanize the process and artists serve long apprenticeships. Visitors to this small exhibition will appreciate the skill and artistry of these two very different works.

Image credits:

Hayakawa Shōkosai III, Japanese, 1864-1922, Painting of Basket with Fungus of Immortality and Orchids, Meiji Period (1868-1912); two-panel folding screen; ink and gold dust on paper; Alexander H. Bullock Fund, 2007.167

 Hayakawa Shōkosai III, Japanese, 1864-1922, Flower Basket with Cascading Handle, 1916; bamboo and rattan dyed with plum wood extract; Harriet B. Bancroft Fund, 2007.168

- Curatorial Department

Monday, September 21, 2015

Medieval Galleries Reinstallation

This month we closed our Medieval Galleries to prepare for a new reinstallation that will take place in 2016. I know that many visitors will miss the outstanding ivories, frescoes, and jewelry that grace our medieval collection, but I promise to deliver a great new exhibit to make it worthwhile! We’ll be integrating arms and armor from the Higgins Armory Collection into the new displays, something that has me especially excited about the project. When I was curator at the Higgins Armory (for fifteen years!), I never had access to civilian objects to round out the arms and armor story we were telling. WAM in the meantime didn’t have knightly objects to complement their artworks. So it’s a great match, and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to play matchmaker. Look for the new galleries in late 2016—and come visit our Chapter House from a medieval French monastery, which remains on view during the renovations.

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

Browse Arms and Armor in the Worcester Art Museum Collections Search

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ask A Curator Day: WAM Answers

Did you miss Ask a Curator Day on Wednesday, September 16?
Here are a few of our favorite questions and answers!

Q: Who is curating the contemporary collection at WAM? (@jfatimamartins1)
Jon L. Seydl, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Curator of European Art: The search is about to launch in a few weeks -- we can't wait! Keep your eyes on our website!

Q: What incredible objects in your collection do you wish you had time to research and know more about? (@mkenner2)
Jeffrey L. Forgeng, Curator of Arms & Armor and Medieval Art: This one still mystifies me, lmk if you have any leads!

Probably Balkan or Caucasian, Ceremonial Saber, possible 18th century, pattern-welded steel, bronze, and gold, The John Woodman Higgens Armory Collection, 2014.25

Q: Do you feel that seascapes or landscapes played a bigger role in early American art? (@Chris_AB16)
Justin M. Brown, Curatorial Assistant in American Art: The American landscape has long held greater appeal as a source of national pride and identity.

Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? What makes you excited to go to work? (@DurhamCurator)
Katrina Stacy, Associate Curator of Education: The "aha moments" of all shapes + sizes remind us why we do what we do. Our work is full of joy.

Q: Where do you find ideas for the next exhibition? What is your inspiration? (@dora_post)
Nancy K. Burns, Assistant Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs: Opening boxes in storage. The art is always the primary source.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ask a Curator Day

Have you ever wondered how exhibitions at the Worcester Art Museum are put together? 
Would you like to know what the museum acquired as its first object? 
Are you curious about the day-to-day life of a curator?

Hear directly from WAM curators themselves on Ask a Curator Day! You ask, we answer. To participate, tweet your questions to @WorcesterArt on Wednesday, September 16, from 11am-5pm EST with the hashtag


Standing by to answer your questions are…

Jon L. Seydl, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Curator of European Art
Tweet sign-off: jls
Expertise: Medieval to 20th century European art; Ancient Greek and Roman art.

Jeffrey Forgeng, Curator of Arms & Armor and Medieval Art
Tweet sign-off: jlf
Expertise: Hand-to-hand esthetics.

Nancy Burns, Assistant Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs
Tweet sign-off: nkb
Expertise: Prints and drawings after 1850; the history of photography.

Katrina Stacy, Assistant Curator of Education
Tweet sign-off: ks
Expertise: Interpreting WAM’s outstanding encyclopedic collection of art; engaging audiences from birth to old age.

Justin M. Brown, Curatorial Assistant in American Art
Tweet sign-off: jmb
Expertise: Pre-20th century American painting; race and American visual culture.

Karysa K. Norris, Curatorial Assistant
Tweet sign-off: kkn
Expertise: Wrangling curators.

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