exhibits at the carnegie

1920s Exhibit on Conservation

by Bonnie Isaac

In looking through museum archives, I found a photograph that intrigued me. The image (above) looked very similar to the spring wildflower diorama in Botany Hall, but different in that there was litter on the ground. After some digging around, it turns out that our curators and exhibit designers here at the museum were way ahead of the curve on conservation awareness.

The 32nd annual report of Carnegie Museum from 1929 states:

“One of the ideas underlying the preparation of this group was that of stressing the importance of preserving our wildflowers. In order to present this idea without marring the natural appearance of the main exhibit, there were prepared two miniature exhibits, exact duplicates of the larger one, but showing on the one hand the desecration of such a beautiful spot by thoughtless and destructive picnickers, and, on the other hand, the bleak devastation wrought by fire. These miniature exhibits, one placed on each side of the main exhibit, have attracted much attention and undoubtedly help to serve the desired educational purpose.”

Smokey Bear was created in 1944, and the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970. Carnegie Museum of Natural History was raising these concerns in 1928!

The spring wildflower diorama today

Bonnie Isaac is the collection manager in the Section of Botany at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Museum employees are encouraged to blog about their unique experiences and knowledge gained from working at the museum.

April 8 - the Newly Renovated Balcony Gallery Opens at Carnegie Museum with a Contemporary Craft Exhibit

Here is a press release from the Carnegie Museum of Art - I thought others would be interested in learning about the balcony gallery and the new exhibit.

Carnegie Museum of Art presents Hand Made: Contemporary Craft in Ceramic, Glass, and Wood

Opens April 8, 2011 in the Newly Renovated Balcony Galley

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania… Carnegie Museum of Art announces the opening of the Balcony Gallery. Formerly known as the Treasure Room, this newly renovated exhibition space located off of the Hall of Sculpture balcony will showcase the museum’s rich and diverse collection of decorative arts objects, with an emphasis on Modernist and contemporary design and craft.

        The Balcony Gallery opens with the inaugural exhibition Hand Made: Contemporary Craft in Ceramic, Glass, and Wood, focusing on the materials, forms, and techniques used in the 20th and 21st centuries to create stunning handmade objects inspired by functional traditions. Many of the works on display reflect the strength of the museum’s permanent collection of American craft. Also debuting in the Balcony Gallery (and simultaneously in nearby galleries) are more than 30 recent acquisitions in contemporary craft and nearly two dozen major promised gifts from the collection of Deena and Jerome Kaplan.

 “The Balcony Gallery beautifully complements the Ailsa Mellon Bruce Galleries and extends our presentation of decorative arts, design, and craft.” said Lynn Zelevansky, The Henry J. Heinz II Director of Carnegie Museum of Art. “I am delighted that the museum has another beautifully designed exhibition space worthy of such a collection.”

        The renovated gallery is 350 square feet (about the same footprint as the former Treasure Room), but has been reconfigured with large floor-to-ceiling built-in wall cases with enhanced lighting, climate control, and adjustable shelving, allowing many more objects to be displayed. To engage a broader audience and provide opportunities for in-depth learning, the renovation also includes an interactive multimedia component in the gallery.

        The inaugural exhibition  features 65 objects from the three most significant studio craft movements of the last 70 years: ceramics, glass, and wood, including recent acquisitions and loans from private collections.

        “This exhibition will examine the roles of craft and design in the 20th and 21st centuries and reveal the unique balance of tradition and innovation that enables these objects to transcend the functional roots of craft media,” said Rachel Delphia, assistant curator of decorative arts and design. “These artists are pushing the boundaries of their media to create distinctive and compelling objects by hand while also employing many age-old techniques.”  

        Hand Made explores the inherent aesthetic possibilities of ceramics, glass, and wood—such as the plasticity and sensuality of clay, the light-altering ability of glass, and the organic textures of wood. The exhibition also examines how artists have moved beyond functional artistry through innovative form and manipulation of these materials.

The celebration of craft extends beyond the Balcony Gallery to the adjacent Hall of Sculpture Balcony, the Ailsa Mellon Bruce Galleries, and the Museum of Art lobby under the Scaife Gallery stairs  where another two dozen works of contemporary craft and studio furniture are on view.

It’s a tiny, toothy Fossil Friday!

Crocs today are mostly aquatic animals, but many early crocodylomorphs—the group that includes living crocs and their extinct relatives—were small animals that lived on land.

Many of the early crocodylomorphs were small, terrestrial hunters. Hoplosuchus kayi was a tiny (approximately 8 inches), graceful croc that lived about 140 million years ago in Utah. Its long legs were built for running and its needle-like teeth were probably adapted to eating insects, lizards, and other small animals. This remarkable fossil may be the only one known for the species.

See a cast of this fossil in the new exhibition, Crocs: Ancient Predators in a Modern World, now open!

Image: © Carnegie Museum of Natural History