Tag Archives: Culture

Witte Museum

1175366_f520San Antonio, Texas is where you’ll find today’s “Museum of the Day,” the Witte Museum.

Located on the banks of the beautiful San Antonio River in Brackenridge Park, the Witte Museum is San Antonio’s premier museum focusing on South Texas history, science and water resources.

The story of the Witte Museum is one of community vision and dedication that created an institution and has sustained it for 80 years. It is the story of men and women from diverse walks of life whose creativity was challenged as they raised funds literally one penny at a time to establish the museum that we still enjoy three quarters of a century later. The Witte Museum has proven as resilient as those who founded it. It has survived the Depression and wars, and in the 21st century remains the most heavily visited of San Antonio’s museums.

San Antonio was a modern, thriving town in the early twentieth century, but lacked many of the cultural institutions that marked other great American cities. Notably, there was no public museum. Local residents relied on privately owned exhibits of art and zoological collections to provide them a glimpse of the wonders of the artistic and natural world. Unlike other cities, San Antonio in the early 1900s had no men and women of extravagant wealth to build their cultural institutions. Instead, the Witte Museum was the product of a disparate group of individuals that included the owner of a large natural history collection, H.P. Attwater, prominent clubwomen including Lena McAllister and Ethel Tunstall Drought, and Mayor John Tobin. They were inspired by a local high school teacher, Ellen Schulz, who envisioned a public museum for the enjoyment of all San Antonians.

Ellen Schulz was aware that H.P. Attwater’s renowned collection was for sale, and after seeing it in 1922 she became determined to acquire it for San Antonio. By early 1923, schoolchildren were standing on street corners calling, “Spare a dime?” and community leaders had formed an organization they called the San Antonio Museum Association to assist in the effort. Through sales of bluebonnets, cakes and performances of “Peter Pan” and “Los Pastores,” the community contributed $6,200 to purchase the Attwater Collection, install it at Main Avenue High School, and open the city’s first public museum on October 8, 1923.

Even before the museum opened, Lena McAllister suggested to Schulz that a formal museum be organized and constructed. The idea took hold as the Attwater Collection’s popularity inspired other donors and the museum soon outgrew its home. By 1924, Schulz, accompanied by her friend and high school principal, Emma Gutzeit, visited Mayor Tobin to enlist the city’s support to build a museum. Though the mayor reportedly first inquired, “What is a museum?” he was eventually converted to the cause. He was even convinced by Ethel Tunstall Drought, president of the San Antonio Art League, that the museum needed a second story where her organization’s growing art collection could be displayed. Led by Tobin, the city committed land in San Pedro Park, and on June 22, 1925, approved $25,000 for construction of the building. Ground was broken for the new museum on September 22, 1925, and then, two days later, local businessman Alfred G. Witte died.

Museum advocates and the mayor were not aware that Alfred Witte, in his will dated June 6, 1921, bequeathed $65,000 to the City of San Antonio for construction of a museum of art, science and natural history to be located in Brackenridge Park and named for his parents. Within three weeks of Witte’s death, work was halted on the San Pedro Park museum and Mayor Tobin and Park Commissioner Ray Lambert selected a new location at the “third entrance” to Brackenridge Park (today Tuleta Drive) on River Avenue (today Broadway). Architect Robert Ayres shifted building materials to the site, enlarged the museum design to include two wings made possible by Witte’s generosity, and construction proceeded. Less than one year later, at a grand community celebration on October 8, 1926, the Witte Memorial Museum opened to the public. Anticipating the future, the San Antonio Express-News remarked, “The Witte Memorial Museum has a great field of service before it.” It was the realization of many dreams and the beginning of a long and interesting story.

I know a few staff members at the Witte, and look forward to visiting with them when I’m in San Antonio again. It’s always a welcoming place to visit!

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Museum of Bad Art

lBoston, Massachusetts is home to the Museum of Bad Art, today’s “Museum of the Day”.

From the Guggenheim to the Museum of Bad Art, I am taking a strong turn from great to quirky museum to help diversify my blog’s focus!

The Museum Of Bad Art (MOBA) is a community-based, private institution dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art in all its forms and in all its glory.

MOBA was founded in the fall of 1993 and presented its first show in March 1994. The response was overwhelming. Since then, MOBA’s collection and ambitions have grown exponentially.

Initially, MOBA was housed in the basement of a private home in Boston. This meager exhibition space limited the museum to being a regional cultural resource for the New England area.

As the only museum dedicated to bringing the worst of art to the widest of audiences we felt morally compelled to explore new, more creative ways of bringing this priceless collection of quality bad art to a global audience. Another Boston-area cultural institution, Dedham Community Theatre, generously allowed MOBA the use of their basement. Our first permanent gallery is now conveniently located just outside the men’s room in a 1927 movie theatre. The ambience created such a convivial atmosphere, that when we went looking for a second location, the only place that was up to our quality standards was another theatre basement. The Somerville Theater in Davis Square, Somerville MA is now our second gallery.

Never think that I only like the “best” museums – my passion for the interpretive space goes out to all museums and I make no judgement about the quality of the collections that are presented. I am, however, a strong advocate for great interpretation and accessibility! I look forward to visiting this museum on my next trip to Boston.

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Museum of Indian Arts & Culture

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Santa Fe, New Mexico is home to the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, today’s “Museum of the Day”.

I have not been to Santa Fe yet and have an urge to make it top of the list for 2014. It’s been beckoning me with the diversity of cultures there, and it’s reputation for a vibrant arts community alive with some of the best artists from all kinds of traditions.

The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, one of four museums in the Museum of New Mexico system, is a premier repository of Native art and material culture and tells the stories of the people of the Southwest from pre-history through contemporary art. The museum serves a diverse, multicultural audience through changing exhibitions, public lectures, field trips, artist residencies, and other educational programs.

More than 65,000 visitors come to the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture each year, of which 30% hail from New Mexico, 50% from other states, and 20% from foreign countries. It is MIAC’s mission to provide cross-cultural education to the many visitors to Santa Fe who take part in our programs and to New Mexican residents throughout the state. It is especially important that MIAC serve the Indian communities in our state and throughout the Southwest whose contemporary and ancestral cultures are represented in the museum’s collections.

I look forward to visiting this museum soon!

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Metropolitan Museum of Art

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New York, NY – Home of many great art collections, New York City is where you will find the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is, in my humble opinion, one of the top 5 art museums in the world and is today’s “Museum of the Day”.

It’s a no-brainer when visiting NYC. The “Met” is a must see, always. Check the museum website for an ever-changing and incredible list of current exhibits; it’s one of the most well-rounded encyclopedic collections of art from all ages, and it is a mega-museum, so a visit always uncovers new treasures and learning experiences. The museum also boasts a robust digital presence, with a timeline of art history available from the website for educators. In short, the museum sets the standards very high for great art museums.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s earliest roots date back to 1866 in Paris, France, when a group of Americans agreed to create a “national institution and gallery of art” to bring art and art education to the American people.  On April 13, 1870, The Metropolitan Museum of Art was incorporated, opening to the public in the Dodworth Building at 681 Fifth Avenue.

On March 30, 1880, after a brief move to the Douglas Mansion at 128 West 14th Street, the Museum opened to the public at its current site on Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street. The architects Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould designed the initial Ruskinian Gothic structure, the west facade of which is still visible in the Robert Lehman Wing. The building has since expanded greatly, and the various additions—built as early as 1888—now completely surround the original structure.

The Museum’s collections continued to grow throughout the rest of the nineteenth century. The Museum’s Beaux-Arts Fifth Avenue facade and Great Hall, designed by the architect and founding Museum Trustee Richard Morris Hunt, opened to the public in December 1902.

By the twentieth century, the Museum had become one of the world’s great art centers. The American Wing now houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of American paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts.

Other major collections belonging to the Museum include arms and armor, the arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, ancient Near Eastern art, Asian art, costume,drawings and prints, European sculpture and decorative arts, Greek and Roman art, Islamic art, medieval art, modern and contemporary art, musical instruments,photographs, and the Robert Lehman Collection.

Today, the Museum’s two-million-square-foot building houses over two million objects, tens of thousands of which are on view at any given time.

A comprehensive architectural plan for the Museum by the architects Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates was approved in 1971 and completed in 1991. Among the additions to the Museum as part of the master plan are the Robert Lehman Wing (1975), which houses an extraordinary collection of Old Masters, as well as Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art; The Sackler Wing (1978), which houses the Temple of Dendur; The American Wing (1980), whose diverse collection includes twenty-five recently renovated period rooms; The Michael C. Rockefeller Wing (1982) displaying the arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing (1987) of modern and contemporary art; and the Henry R. Kravis Wing (1991) devoted to European sculpture and decorative arts from the Renaissance to the beginning of the twentieth century.

With the expansion of the building complete, the Metropolitan Museum has continued to refine and reorganize its collections. In 1998, the Arts of Korea gallery opened to the public, completing a major suite of galleries devoted to the arts of Asia. The Ancient Near Eastern Art galleries reopened to the public in 1999 following a renovation. In 2007, several major projects at the south end of the building were completed, most notably the fifteen-year renovation and reinstallation of the entire suite of Greek and Roman Art galleries. Galleries for Oceanic and Native North American Art also opened in 2007, as well as the new Galleries for Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Paintings and Sculpture and the Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education.

On November 1, 2011, the Museum’s New Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia opened to the public. On the north side of the Museum, the Met’s New American Wing Galleries for Paintings, Sculpture, and Decorative Arts reopened on January 16, 2012, signaling the completion of the third and final phase of The American Wing’s renovation.

Thomas P. Campbell became the ninth director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in January 2009, following the thirty-one-year tenure of Philippe de Montebello. During the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2012, the Metropolitan Museum welcomed 6.2 million visitors from around the world to the main building on Fifth Avenue and The Cloisters museum and gardens. Through fellowships and professional exchanges, ongoing excavation work, traveling exhibitions, and many other international initiatives, the Museum continues in the twenty-first century to fulfill its mission and serve the broadest possible audience.

Read the history of The Cloisters museum and gardens, the Museum’s branch in northern Manhattan dedicated to the art and architecture of medieval Europe.

Now that I am relocating back to the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, I know I will be visiting NYC and of course, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, more often!

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Art Institute of Chicago

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Chicago, Illinois – Home to one of the best art collections in the world, the Art Institute of Chicago stands tall in the realm of important art museums of the 21st century. It was voted #1 Museum in United States in 2013 by the TripAdvisor.com users.

Close to my hometown of Peoria, I remember many visits to this venerable institution growing up. My most recent trip to Chicago did not allow for a visit inside, but the time I spent exploring Millennium Park allowed me some great views of the new wing.

The Art Institute of Chicago collects, preserves, and interprets works of art of the highest quality, representing the world’s diverse artistic traditions, for the inspiration and education of the public and in accordance with our profession’s highest ethical standards and practices.

The Art Institute of Chicago was founded as both a museum and school for the fine arts in 1879, a critical era in the history of Chicago as civic energies were devoted to rebuilding the metropolis that had been destroyed by the Great Fire of 1871. Its first collections consisting primarily of plaster casts, the Art Institute found its permanent home in 1893, when it moved into a building, constructed jointly with the city of Chicago for the World’s Columbian Exposition, at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Adams Street. That building, its entry flanked by the two famous bronze lions, remains the “front door” of the museum even today. In keeping with the academic origins of the institution, a research library was constructed in 1901; eight major expansions for gallery and administrative space have followed, with the latest being the Modern Wing, which opened in 2009. The permanent collection has grown from plaster casts to nearly 300,000 works of art in fields ranging from Chinese bronzes to contemporary design and from textiles to installation art. Together, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the museum of the Art Institute of Chicago are now internationally recognized as two of the leading fine-arts institutions in the United States.

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American Visionary Art Museum

american_visionary_arts_museum-2Baltimore, Maryland’s American Visionary Art Museum is today’s “Museum of the Day”!

This is one of my all-time favorite museums. Having spent 10 years between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD, I am fortunate enough to have developed a friendship with the founding director, Rebecca Hoffberger.

Her leadership in creating some of the most outstanding visionary art, presenting them in creative and thoughtful ways, and addressing them with keen eye on thought-provoking social issues is, in a word, visionary.

There’s a joy and celebration of art and life that emanates from the museum, from the outside of the building to the visually overwhelming and sensually-stimulating museum store; even the restaurant and restrooms are engaging and fun. Nestled beneath Baltimore’s Federal Hill, the museum has “O SAY CAN YOU SEE” boldly displayed in neon lights on one of it’s three buildings facing the inner harbor.

“Visionary art” is defined by the museum as “art produced by self-taught individuals, usually without formal training, whose works arise from an innate personal vision that revels foremost in the creative act itself.”

Rather than give you more “basic” info about the museum, I urge you to visit their website and to follow them on them FACEBOOK. Do not miss this museum when in Baltimore. And by all means, make Baltimore a stop on your tour of important historical and creative cities in the United States. There’s so much to see and do in Baltimore, for sure!

shinyhappyIf my review seems shiny and happy, it’s because this museum is simply one of the best museum experiences in the world.

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Nota Bene: I will be relocating to Washington, D.C. in the coming days and have scheduled a regular “Museum of the Day” through next Sunday, February 23. The museums coming in the next week are simply some of my personal favorites.

Once I settle into my new home in DC, I will continue to research new and interesting museums with a focus on diversity of museum type and geographic location.

International Quilt Study Center & Museum

95420038-b1a3-4465-82f7-5fbccfb8a6e0Lincoln, Nebraska is home to this unusual “Museum of the Day,” the International Quilt Study Center & Museum (IQSCM).

The center houses the largest publicly held quilt collection in the world. The more than 3,500 quilts date from the early 1700s to the present and represent more than 25 countries. IQSCM makes its academic home in the Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design in the College of Education and Human Sciences.

IQSCM was founded in 1997 when native Nebraskans Ardis and Robert James donated their collection of nearly 1,000 quilts to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Their contribution became the centerpiece of what is now the largest publicly held quilt collection in the world.

Through private funds from the University of Nebraska Foundation and a lead gift from the James family, the center opened its new location in 2008.

The glass and brick, environmentally sustainable building was awarded silver level LEED (Leadership in Energy and environmental Design) certification. Quilt House holds more than 3,500 quilts, as well as state-of-the-art research and storage space and custom-crafted galleries.

The plaza sculpture “Reverie” was created by artist Linda Fleming and commissioned by the family of Betty Duncan: Robert Duncan, Dianne Duncan Thomas and Kathryn Duncan.

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Museum of African Art & Culture

e5ccf9_970728786cf5aeb8249a321770cd8c35.jpeg_srz_p_555_763_75_22_0.50_1.20_0Portland, Maine is home of one of the most culturally specific museums about African art and culture, today’s “Museum of the Day” is a relatively new addition to cultural diversity in Maine.

The Museum of African Culture was founded by Oscar Mokeme and Art Aleshire and opened on August 8, 1998 in Portland Maine. It is the only institution in northern New England devoted exclusively to sub-Saharan African arts and culture. There are over 1,500 pieces in the collection of the museum, ranging from large-scale, elaborately carved wooden masks to smaller scale figures, cast copper alloy (bronze) figures, textiles, utilitarian objects, ceramic, bone, ivory and composite objects.

The oldest mask in the collection dates back to 1600 AD. Many of the bronzes are 1,000 years old and the ivory flutes and clay vessels are up to 2,000 years old. These pieces are important as they preserve the religious and cultural legacy of Africa that is fast disappearing in a globalized world.

The permanent exhibit features an extensive display of African masks. In addition to the permanent gallery, the museum has a Heritage Gallery with rotating exhibits featuring themes that include art from all over Sub-saharan Africa. The contemporary gallery has rotating exhibits that feature art inspired by the African Diaspora, and is home of the Black Artist Forum.

I know I would really enjoy to visit and learn more about the museum and its collections from the founding director.

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Basque Museum and Cultural Center

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Boise, Idaho is home to the Basque Museum and Cultural Center, today’s “Museum of the Day”.

Boise, Idaho has long been a central location where Basque immigrants first congregated after coming to the United States from the Spanish Basque Region. As immigrants established their lives here, Basques became well-known for their hard work and perseverance. The Mission of the Basque Museum & Cultural Center is to preserve, promote, and perpetuate Basque history and culture.

The Basque Museum & Cultural Center provides a look into the Basque heritage through exhibits, collections, and tours. As a cultural center, it’s a gathering place for events and educational opportunities – in which people of all backgrounds can take part in Basque activities.

The Basque Museum and Cultural Center was established in 1985 as a small museum in the historic Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga House at 607 Grove Street. Located in scenic Boise, Idaho, the Basque Museum & Cultural Center provides a look into the heritage of the Basque communities of Idaho and surrounding areas. Through hard work and the support of many people, businesses, foundations, and Basque communities, the Museum began to interpret the rich and colorful history of the Basques, their origins, and their new life in America.

The 611 Grove Street property became the primary facility for the Museum’s operations in 1993. As artifact donations and exhibition development increased, so did the need for more space. Displays, classrooms, a library, a kitchen and a Museum Store became part of the renewed space. Over the years, thanks to many dedicated people, the Museum has grown tremendously in facilities and services and has become an Idaho cultural institution.

The mission of the Basque Museum and Cultural Center is to preserve, promote and perpetuate Basque history and culture. The only Basque language preschool outside of the Basque Country, has been established as part of this mission.

Museum collections include oral history archives, a library, a collection of records & tapes, manuscript materials, and many artifacts and photographs. It is the home of significant resources for anyone interested in Basque history and culture.

As support and participation increase, the Museum will be able to offer more educational programs, develop and enhance permanent exhibits, implement technological improvements, manage collections, and promote Basque social activities.

I’ve always been fascinated by the culture of the Basque region in Spain, this is a great way to see how their culture developed in the United States. I look forward to a visit when I finally get to Utah!

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Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture

1253Baltimore, Maryland, one of the best cities for arts & culture, is home to many of my all-time favorite museums. Today’s “Museum of the Day” pays tribute to the history and culture of African Americans in Maryland. The Reginald F. Lewis Museum opened in 2005, during my tenure in the city.

It is one of the largest museums of its type and features permanent and temporary exhibits, theater facility, café and shop in the heart of downtown Baltimore.

The museum is named after Reginald F. Lewis (1942-1993). Born in Baltimore, Lewis was an entrepreneur and philanthropist who served as chair and chief executive officer of TLC Beatrice International, the largest U.S. company owned by an African American during his lifetime.

The museum’s mission is: To be the premier experience and best resource for information and inspiration about the lives of African American Marylanders.

The museum brings Maryland African American history and culture to life through its permanent galleries and educational programs. It also shares the broader African American experience through special exhibitions, lectures and a variety of events.

The 82,000 square-foot facility accommodates over 13,000 square feet of permanent and temporary exhibition space, a two-story theater, resource center, museum gift shop, café, classrooms, meeting rooms, an outdoor terrace, and reception areas.

The museum provides dynamic educational programs for both children and adults and is especially proud of its partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education. The museum’s education department has developed curricula and provided teacher training to reach more than 850,000 students and 50,000 teachers.

An important educational resource and a well-planned museum, The Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore is another museum I look forward to revisiting soon!