Medium 9781442267664

Collections Vol 4 N3

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"Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals" is a multi-disciplinary peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the discussion of all aspects of handling, preserving, researching, and organizing collections. Curators, archivists, collections managers, preparators, registrars, educators, students, and others contribute.

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6 Articles

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FOCUS: Public Art

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This issue is once again focused on public art—a topic whose relevancy is proved by the continuing public funding of major public art commissions. As noted in the Guest Editor’s foreword, another major project is opening in New York Harbor and its success with its various audiences will be followed by major art critics nationwide.

This issue presents a consideration of Chicago’s Millennium Park. Such all­encompassing public spaces incorporating art as well as featuring diverse cultural offerings is perhaps the way of the future. In the park, art is set within a landscape space that is appropriate for its appreciation and consideration. The museums of the past once were surrounded by grand parks. As an example, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History are connected by Central Park. More recently, museums with a more narrow focus were placed in settings that were not park-like at all. Often, the settings were abrupt urban streetscapes. Yet in today’s world, museums, sculpture, and art centers openly compete with shopping centers for audiences, making creative leveraging a necessity to attract the optimum number of visitors.

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Who Cares About Public Art? Commissioning and Conservation Concerns

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Anton Rajer

Anton (Tony) Rajer has taught art conservation at University of Wisconsin-Madison and Beloit College, is an author, and former director of Wisconsin SOS! e-mail: rajert@gdinet.com

Abstract     This article discusses the various steps in commissioning new public art and the issues related to conservation and the national conservation effort known as SOS! (Save Outdoor Sculpture). It reviews the history of SOS! and explains how the effort operates. It articulates some challenges to and benefits of the SOS! process, using the State of Wisconsin’s projects as examples. This article also offers general guidelines on contracting artists, which can be molded to suit a variety of projects.

Parallel to the need to care for existing public art heritage is the need to better plan a proposed public art monument. Until recently, few new public art projects had any preservation component attached to them. This stems from the illusion that outdoor sculpture is permanent and immune to deterioration or damage. It isn’t.

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Producing La Grande Vitesse: Civic Symbolism, Vernacular Archives, and Public Sculpture in Grand Rapids, Michigan

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Jennifer Geigel Mikulay

Assistant Professor/Public Scholar of Visual Culture, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Museum Studies and Herron School of Art and Design, 735 W. New York St., Indianapolis, IN 46202, e-mail: jmikulay@iupui.edu

Abstract     La Grande Vitesse (1969) by Alexander Calder has adorned the civic center in Grand Rapids, Michigan for nearly forty years. What does this sculpture mean to its publics? Drawing upon interdisciplinary insights from visual culture studies, this article argues that official archives combined with collections of vernacular imagery may assist with research into the meanings, values, and uses that citizens ascribe to public art. Understanding the local significance of public sculpture requires investigating how diverse publics creatively produce individual understandings, which are often expressed visually. As people produce logos, miniatures, and artistic responses to La Grande Vitesse, they contribute counter-images that elaborate their relationships to the original sculpture. These counter-images both produce and problematize established accounts of the sculpture’s relevance to local publics.

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Airport Art Revisited: Site Responsive Lessons from The Acconci Studio’s Flying Floors for Ticketing Pavilion

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Mary M. Tinti

Independent Curator, tinti00@yahoo.com

Abstract     Located in Terminal B/C of Philadelphia International Airport, the Acconci Studio’s 1998 Flying Floors for Ticketing Pavilion is a provocative, disquieting testament to the one-of-a-kind pulse of an airport. Mirroring all the exhilaration, disorientation, thrills, and fears associated with this unique contemporary public space, Flying Floors is proof that artworks commissioned for airport collections do not have to be watered down or cliché but instead can be site-responsive, evocative, and roguish. They can explore facets of the contemporary condition better understood at the airport than anywhere else; legitimize the often surreal goings on within this singular contemporary public venue; and enmesh themselves within the physical and philosophical schema of this extraordinary site. By doing all of that and then some, Flying Floors is both a perfect marriage of sculpture and site and a suggestive model for the kind of installations we should be unafraid to commission for airport collections.

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Into the New Millennium and Out of the Ordinary: The Development of Millennium Park

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Rachel Brewer

Director of Galleries and Curator of Collections, Georgetown College, 400 East College St, Georgetown, KY 40324. Email: rachel_brewer@georgetowncollege.edu

Abstract     Millennium Park is Chicago’s newest park and cultural arena. An entirely privately funded public space, the park is an i ntricate combination of art, architecture, landscape design, and performing art spaces. It is fitting that one objective of the park was to celebrate the arrival of the new m illennium, for, in creating Millennium Park, the city of Chicago has truly surpassed the examples that came before. This article examines the collection of art, architecture, and green space that makes up the revolutionary public space, Millennium Park. The history, present, and future of Millennium Park are described in conjunction with an examination of each individual element of the collection. These elements include the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, BP Bridge, Lurie Garden, Cloud Gate, Boeing Galleries, Crown Fountain, McCormick Tribune Plaza, Wrigley Square, Millennium Monument, Exelon Pavilions, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, and McDonald’s Cycle Center.

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The John and Mildred Putnam Sculpture Collection: Patronage and the Role of a Campus Sculpture Collection

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Evelyn Kiefer-Roulet

Assistant to the Director, The John and Mildred Putnam Sculpture Collection, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, evelyn.kiefer@case.edu

Abstract     Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland Ohio is fortunate to be one of the few colleges and universities in the United States to have a permanent collection of world class sculpture. The thirty seven sculptures included in the John and Mildred Putnam Sculpture Collection as of 2008 are situated in buildings and outdoor locations where they can be experienced casually as part of everyday life rather than bei ng located in a campus gallery or museum. This insures that campus sculpture en riches the learning environment for students, faculty, and visitors alike. All are works of 20th or 21st century sculpture, and because contemporary art can be intellectually challengi ng and controversial, such a collection is particularly appropriate to a learning environment for its ability to spark dialogue. The John and Mildred Putnam Sculpture Collection was created th rough the patronage of Peter Putnam. A generous but enigmatic arts patron, Peter Putnam was born in Cleveland and graduated from Princeton University with a Ph.D. in physics.

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