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 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

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Education and Experience Department

The Worcester Art Museum is announcing its intention to change the name of its Education Department to the Education and Experience Department. This name change reflects a broader approach to serving a larger community searching for meaningful interactions, both traditional and non-traditional, in the museum setting. This change merges what the museum values and has historically valued: high quality experiences and learning with the recognition that positive museum experiences stimulate learning and life-long change. In its work with museum guests, the Education and Experience Department is daily inspired by the Museum’s vision statement, emphasizing the connection of art with individual experiences, joy, and discovery as well as striving to connect people, cultures, and histories with the here and now of a globalizing world. In its effort to be as inclusive and accessible as possible for all, the Education and Experience Department endeavors continually to innovate and create a wide variety of audience-focused experiences that include school tours, Community Days, Family Weekends, crowd-sourced exhibitions, enhanced interactive gallery interpretations, and more.

- Marcia Lagerwey, Curator of Education

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Worcester Art Museum to Host a Naturalization Ceremony

For the Worcester Art Museum, being a community resource is part of our DNA. In 2014, we became a polling location for the 3rd Precinct in Worcester, and participating in local, state -- and the recent presidential -- elections has deepened our commitment to engaging with our community in ways that extend beyond our galleries.

Now, I am excited to share that the Worcester Art Museum will take another step in this process of civic engagement, as we host our first naturalization ceremony at the Museum on January 11th. As an art museum, we present objects spanning thousands of years of history, and from countries and cultures around the world. And as a community, part of Worcester’s heritage and resilience comes from our long tradition of welcoming people who settle here. This is the perfect environment in which to celebrate 60 immigrants becoming citizens of the United States.

These activities raise the question: what is the role of the Museum in understanding ourselves as citizens of this society? We continue to explore this question. Our work to become a polling place led us to develop the exhibition Picket Fence to Picket Line: Visions of American Citizenship, which examines the multitude of issues that citizens of the United States encounter; from protests, to education, to land ownership. And we balance our community programing (such as our annual Art + Market farm stand with Dick’s Market Garden) with the Master Series (which spotlights our collection through lectures and gallery installations). Through such programs we work to ensure we are aware of our institutional responsibilities, seeking out new opportunities, and working to serve our community.

Learn more about the Naturalization Ceremony

Thank you,
Adam Rozan, Director of Audience Engagement

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