Thursday, June 9, 2011

Interning @ Fenimore Art Museum, Part 2

By Emma Porter, Curatorial Intern

Yesterday I spent time exploring the traveling exhibition organized by the Fenimore Art Museum called Art of the American Indians: The Thaw Collection. I read over the beautifully compiled and designed exhibition book with the same title.

The Fenimore has lent pieces from its outstanding Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art (which it received in 1995 from the Sante Fe based couple). Mr. Eugene Thaw was an art connoisseur, dealer, and collector who amassed a collection of more than 850 objects! The exhibition has so far been exhibited by the Cleveland Art Museum, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and is now on view at the Dallas Museum of Art. On December 4th, 2011 it will open at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

A great quote from Eugene Thaw that Eva Fognell includes in her Introduction to the book is: “I want to stress that I look at Indian material culture as art. To me, it is co-equal to any of my own highest experiences in pursuing the art of many nations both as dealer and collector. It stands rightfully with ancient art, with masterpieces of Asia and Europe, as their equivalent, and I wish it would be looked at this way”.

I am learning how the art museum loan process works and the many details it entails; such as the correspondence between the organizer (The Fenimore Art Museum) and the exhibitor (Dallas Art Museum, for example) and the types of paperwork and agreements it involves. As I looked at the exhibition photos taken by Cleveland and Minneapolis, I realized how differently curators interpret a collection, from the script to the lighting and wall colors. These two museums had different emphases, and in turn communicated these in a variety of aesthetic ways. I am so excited to gain further understanding of the art museum loan process and how travelling exhibitions work from an organizer’s view and an exhibitor’s view. I am particularly thrilled by how curators have different interpretations and presentations of collections, and all tell different stories to the public.

As I dive further into the Thaw Collection, from understanding the objects within their own contexts to how they are important for the art world and society as a whole, I expect to gain a wider and deeper view of the cultural history of American art.

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