Monday, October 29, 2012

In the Gardens at Shelburne Museum

Fall is upon us in the gardens at Shelburne Museum.
The change in season has taken its toll, it's time to put the gardens to bed for the season.

Museum garden volunteers make quick work of cutting down hostas at Alyssia's Garden.

Dahlia's and cannas are dug up and stored for the winter,
to be used again next season.
In the proper storing conditions, tubers of dahlias and cannas can be stored and enjoyed
over and over again for many years.
In the Bostwick Garden, Siberian iris are dug up and divided.
Periodically dividing your perennials will insure their future health and performance.
You can purchase lilac seedlings, peonies, daylilies and divisions of museum plants at the Shelburne Museum Store during the season.

I hope you enjoyed the museum's 22 gardens this past season. We are already planning for next season!  Jess Gallas, head gardener.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Staff Brings Science Fiction to Haunted Happenings

Haunted Happenings, 2011

This year, Haunted Happenings is boldly going where no theme has gone before:  science fiction! The Museum staff is working hard to bring their favorite science fiction characters and stories to life for the event this Sunday.  Renee Compagna, the Museum’s Family Programs Coordinator, admits that this year is a dream come true.  “I’ve always wanted to have a Star Wars’ themed event at the Museum,” she says.  “Having a sci-fi themed event and incorporating Star Wars compliments the temporary exhibition Time Machines: Robots, Rockets and Steampunk.”

Poster for 1954 Disney Adaption of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The Office of Registrar plans to bring visitors a unique science fiction experience that ties into the exhibit with their ode to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  "It's sci-fi, written by Jules Verne, and it's very steampunk.  Plus it was such a campy movie," explains Barbara Rathburn, the Museum's Registrar.  Right now, they're working on a sunken shipwreck with a blast on the side that will sit on the Stagecoach lawn in front of a painted backdrop of the Nautilus -- Captain Nemo's high-tech submarine that secretly explores various underwater worlds.  Look for Barbara as she lurks around in her homemade squid costume. 

The science fiction take on Haunted Haunted is filling the Museum departments with enthusiasm and energy.  “Staff are really excited about this year’s theme since it is an area that, as a Museum of Art and Design, that we do not generally get to explore,” Renee says.   I went off to investigate what other departments are planning for the 3,000 visitors expected to join us on Haunted Happenings.
“I need to find some slime – like blood, only green,” Account Clerk Denise Morrell suddenly remembers as she describes to me the Administrative Department’s plan to transform Owl Cottage into a Roswell site.  It won't take long for you to discover the U.F.O (unidentified flying object) that has mysteriously crashed into the children’s activity center.  I won’t give away what the department has up their sleeve for inside the cottage.  Let’s just say that Denise admits her department “doesn't mind doing a little scary.” 

In 2011, the Administration Department recreated Batman's
bat cave in the bottom floor of the Round Barn
Have you ever thought about what kind of music would be played at a Star Trek dance party?  I asked Katie Titterton, Membership Manager, to tell me what music the Development Department believes the Enterprise crew boogies to while cruising in warp drive.  “Mid to late 20th century music—really loud,” she deliberated.  You can find the Development Team enjoying throwing a Star Trek dance party on the Dutton House lawn.  Titterton will dance along with visitors as a generic crew member of the Star Trek Enterprise, but she’s pleased to announce that Shelburne Museum’s Director of Development, Sam Ankerson, will take charge as the famous Captain James T. Kirk. 
Development stuck with the party theme this year after throwing a fun 'pizza' bash
as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles during 2011's Haunted Happenings.

Sara Woodbury and candy, 2011
Enough science fiction, what about the candy? If you recall my Preparing for Haunted Happenings post from a year ago, Curatorial Fellow Sara Woodbury allowed the Education department to stash all 40,000 pieces of candy into her office.  The torch has now been passed to Adult Programs Coordinator, Kim McCray.  Why the office change?  "Because I'm sweet," Kim retorts.  But, she's not bitter about the mounds of boxes taking up an entire wall of her office.  "It's kind of exciting," she confesses. "The boxes constantly remind me that Haunted Happenings is coming up and since this will be my first one I'm really looking forward to it."

Kim McCray and candy, 2012

Haunted Happening is 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 28.  Admission is $5.  Children age 2 and under and members are free. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Some New Views of Pleissner

Things may be winding down here for visitors at Shelburne Museum, but here in curatorial, we're busy working on next season's shows. One of the shows I'm putting together is a new rotation of paintings for our Pleissner Gallery.

Exterior of Pleissner Gallery

Visitors enjoying Pleissner Gallery

Pleissner Gallery also includes a recreation of the artist's Manchester, VT studio

If you haven't seen the Museum, or have never visited the Pleissner Gallery, this building is dedicated to the works of Ogden M. Pleissner, a 20th-century American painter.

Self-portrait of Ogden M. Pleissner in fishing gear

 A close friend of the Webb family, Pleissner is probably best known for his sporting scenes today.

Blue Boat on the Ste Anne, one of Pleissner's most famous paintings.

 Yet Pleissner considered himself a landscape painter at heart, calling himself "a painter of landscapes who also liked to hunt and fish." A well-traveled artist, he painted in locations as varied as Wyoming, Scotland, Italy, Spain, and New England. Pleissner was introduced to many of these places during World War II, when he served as an art correspondent, first for the Army Air Force, and later for Life Magazine.

I went down to the storage room for Pleissner Gallery a few weeks ago to take a closer look at some of these landscapes, and was struck by their beauty and display of painterly skill. Check these out:

Pebble Beach Golf Course, ca. 1950-1965, watercolor on paper, 7'' x 10'', gift of Peter Bergh, 1991-52.8

Pleissner enjoyed fishing and fowl shooting, but he also played golf. Pebble Beach was first opened in 1919, and is renowned for its views of Carmel Bay.

Burnside, date unknown, watercolor on paper, 7'' x 10'', bequest of Ogden M. Pleissner, 1986-26.153

Burnside is located in Scotland, and Pleissner visited this region to shoot grouse. Many of his famous shooting scenes are set in this area, but this little painting is all about landscape.

St. Malo, date unknown, watercolor on paper, 7'' x 10'', bequest of Ogden M. Pleissner, 1986-26.144

St. Malo is a port city in Brittany. Pleissner first encountered this landscape during World War II, and visited several times after the war to paint it.

One thing I'm learning to appreciate about Pleissner is his efficiency. Watercolor is a difficult medium, but Pleissner skillfully used it to create naturalistic scenes without overwhelming his compositions with superfluous details. With just a few deft strokes of paint, he's able to turn abstract lines and color...

River, date unknown, watercolor on paper, 7'' x 10'', bequest of Ogden M. Pleissner, 1986-26.41
 ...into reflections of trees on water.

There are plenty of other lovely scenes that will be featured in this show, so be sure to come and visit next summer if you can! The Museum opens on May 12, 2013.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

i-loview, Accessible Technology!

This season Shelburne Museum received a generous gift from the Vermont-based accessible technology company, Ai Squared -- two i-loview handheld video magnifiers for  visually impaired museum visitors. Equipped with sophisticated cameras, the devices allow users to see an image up to 32 times its original size.

Intern Nina uses an i-loview magnifier on an Art at Hand tour of the Ticonderoga
We have put the magnifiers to good use in our Art at Hand program for the visually impaired. We've used them, for example, to see the tiny anchor pattern that dots the dining room carpet on the steamboat Ticonderoga. Later this month we will employ them at the General Store for up-close look at objects behind the counter or high up on the shelves. The i-loview magnifiers have been indispensable on these special tours.
Now, the devices are even more accessible to our visitors. Through closing day on October 28th they are available to check out at the Information Desk just behind the Museum Store!

Anne displays the i-loview magnifiers now available for visitors to check out at the Information Desk
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Rebecca White, Marketing Project Manager at Ai Squared, who wrote her own article about Art at Hand on their "Zoomed In" blog. She explains that while the company's flagship product, ZoomText magnification and reading software, has been on the market for over twenty years, the i-loview is an innovative development in accessible hardware. "We do everything we can to stay on top of technology," she says. "The i-loview helps our customers on the go--whether they're at the grocery store or an art museum." The device, White emphasizes, allows people who are visually impaired to "stay connected to the world and maintain their sense of independence."

White expresses a passionate belief that cultural institutions should be accessible to the tight-knit community of visually impaired Vermonters whom Ai Squared knows well. The company moved to the southern part of the state 1992 and, as she describes, its corporate culture just "feels Vermont." Then she pauses, realizing that, "maybe that only makes sense to Vermonters!" Certainly we at Shelburne Museum take pride in our deep regional connections and are glad to establish a partnership with such an esteemed local business. Ai Squared makes it a point to give back to the state they call home, and we thank them heartily for their generosity.

Update: If you'd like to learn more about Art at Hand, check out this article published in the Burlington Free Press on Sunday, October 21st.