Category Archives: Exhibitions

Home Stories Profiles: Detwiler Household

Dan and Drew Detweiler of Home Stories

Dan and Drew Detwiler lived with “Issue 16” of “The Thing”—a shower curtain.

What could people discover about their ideas of home and art by living with a life size reproduction of a BMA artwork for one month? Home Stories is our quest to find out…

Dan Detwiler and his son Drew come to the BMA’s Free Family Sundays events regularly. Drew is an avid artist, and their home is filled with his drawings, paintings, and sculptures. He recently made a series of drawings of great buildings from around the world, such as the Leaning Tower of Piza and the Eiffel Tower, which he complemented with a futuristic imaginary city built of Legos that includes two towering restaurants, a city hall, an art museum (of course), and more.

Dan and Drew got the shower curtain for their Home Stories artwork because they were one of the most adventurous families to participate in this project. It’s no easy thing to live with a huge artwork in your most private room, least of all one that addresses you each time you read it.

Here we have a special treat: an extended video of Dan and Drew talking about their experiences living with this incredible shower curtain.

When you visit Imagining Home at the BMA you’ll have the opportunity to watch a video of Dan and Drew with Issue 16 of Thing Quarterly alongside another household that also lived with it.

You can also listen to three participants in the Home Stories project, including Dan, read the text on the shower curtain:

Imagining Home, the inaugural exhibition for the BMA’s new Joseph Education Center brings together more than 30 works from across the BMA’s collection to explore the universal theme of home.

An eye for detail: Walking through Imagining Home with Associate Curator Oliver Shell

Alfred Stieglitz. The Steerage. From the journal "291" (Nos. 7-8, September-October 1915). 1907, published 1915. Photogravure, Sheet: 465 x 318 mm. (18 5/16 x 12 1/2 in.), Image: 333 x 264 mm. (13 1/8 x 10 3/8 in.) The Baltimore Museum of Art: Gift of Cary Ross, BMA 1988.565

Alfred Stieglitz. The Steerage. From the journal “291” (Nos. 7-8, September-October 1915). 1907, published 1915.
Photogravure, Sheet: 465 x 318 mm. (18 5/16 x 12 1/2 in.), Image: 333 x 264 mm. (13 1/8 x 10 3/8 in.)
The Baltimore Museum of Art: Gift of Cary Ross, BMA 1988.565

Images contain details that can be enlightening or senseless, or whose import may be lost due the passage of time.  In an exhibition like Imagining Home with so many big themes, I find myself fixated by particulars. The passengers in Alfred Stieglitz’s classic photograph The Steerage almost universally wear hats or head gear. The women wear head scarves while among the men we see workers caps, fancy bowler hats, and one very prominent straw boater. What did it mean to wear a straw boater or bowler hat while traveling in steerage in 1907? Was there any difference? The larger point may be that in this era nobody left his or her home without some form of head covering–a practice that died out somewhere in the mid-20th century. My grandmother still wore a hat when she went to town. I do not! Lost rituals of propriety create a separation between their world and ours.

Marguerite Gérard. Motherhood. c. 1795-1800 Oil on wood panel, 24 x 20 in. (61.0 x 50.8 cm.) The Baltimore Museum of Art: Bequest of Elise Agnus Daingerfield, BMA 1944.102

Marguerite Gérard. Motherhood. c. 1795-1800. Oil on wood panel, 24 x 20 in. (61.0 x 50.8 cm.)
The Baltimore Museum of Art: Bequest of Elise Agnus Daingerfield, BMA 1944.102

Marguerite Gérard. Motherhood (detail). c. 1795-1800 Oil on wood panel, 24 x 20 in. (61.0 x 50.8 cm.) The Baltimore Museum of Art: Bequest of Elise Agnus Daingerfield, BMA 1944.102

The oil lamp depicted in Marguerite Gerard’s Motherhood is among the most exquisitely complex light fixtures that I have ever seen. Symbolically, this may be fitting for a work produced in the ‘age of enlightenment.’ Unfortunately, this lamp sheds little light onto the purpose of some of the other props in this room.  For instance, what are we to make of the large panel leaning against the wall, behind the mother? It depicts three rows of hand-written yet indecipherable words. My sense is that it would have been a recognizable object in its day, otherwise why include it? Perhaps it may serve some pedagogical function in the child’s upbringing—perhaps an aid to reading? The child seems too young for such instruction, and yet, it could signal a future intention to nurture and educate the child at home.

It is not purely by chance that Frances Benjamin Johnston’s photograph, Sophia’s Dairy, Harford County, Maryland, showing a double staircase in a seemingly vacant house, appears to dance as though liberated from any architectural rule. It is as though the photographer were channeling Giovanni Battista Piranesi, who’s Imaginary Prisons prints included staircases leading madly in pointless directions.

Frances Benjamin Johnston. Sophia's Dairy, Harford County, Maryland. 1936-1937. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Purchase Fund. BMA 1938.37

Frances Benjamin Johnston. Sophia’s Dairy, Harford County, Maryland. 1936-1937. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Purchase Fund. BMA 1938.37

A closer look reveals that Johnston has most deliberately chosen the single angle and camera elevation where the ascending stairs, at left, seem parallel to the top 4 stairs, which are in fact at a 90 degree angle to the lower 9 stairs.  This creates a seemingly uninterrupted ascent and obscures the shared landing at the level of the top of the door.  Not only does one have to turn 90 degrees to ascend further, but one has to do so twice in order to reach the second floor.  The turning motif is architecturally expressed through the rolled terminal volute of the bannister; but the true direction of the rising dark bannister is obscured (just where it turns 90 degrees for the first time) through its carefully planned visual intersection with the bottom rail of the second floor bannister.  Johnston’s game is to confuse the eye and liberate the architectural components from their structural duties with joyous irrational effect. Her play is achieved through the manipulation of details.

Imagining Home brings together more than 30 works from across the BMA’s collection to explore the universal theme of home. The exhibition is the result of a collaboration between Director of Interpretation and Public Engagement Gamynne Guillotte and Associate Curator of European Painting & Sculpture Oliver Shell.

 

Home Stories at the BMA

Dan and Drew Detweiler of Home Stories

Dan and Drew Detweiler lived with “Issue 16” of “The Thing”—a shower curtain.

What could people discover about their ideas of home and art by living with a life size reproduction of a BMA artwork for one month?
Home Stories is the BMA’s quest to find out.

Imagining Home, the inaugural exhibition in the BMA’s new Joseph Education Center, is an exploration of the multitude of ways that people around the world think about home. We thought it would be interesting to include a project based around art in the home because so many of the artworks in the exhibition were originally intended to be displayed in homes. Home Stories was conceived as a program in which households from across Baltimore would live with artwork reproductions for about a month, and then we would interview them about their experience.

Eleven households were selected from across the Baltimore area, with an eye towards diversity in age, race, class, neighborhood, and household composition. The participants also brought a great range in experience with art, from novice collectors and makers to experienced artists and curators. This diversity in perspectives allowed us to explore a wonderful variety of responses to the artworks.

Francine Housier and Kalima Young lived with selections from the "Rich and Poor" Series by Jim Goldberg.

Francine Housier and Kalima Young lived with selections from the “Rich and Poor” Series by Jim Goldberg.

We hypothesized that this would be a very personal experience for the participants and that each household would have a unique experience. We also hoped that living with artwork reproductions would lead participants to think about art in a new way. Our expectations were wildly exceeded on both counts.

LaMecka Moore and family lived with selections from the Rich and Poor series by Jim Goldberg

LaMecka Moore and family lived with selections from the “Rich and Poor” series by Jim Goldberg

The artworks selected for this project include the colorful painting A Quick Nap by Walter Williams, the detailed photograph The Steerage by Alfred Stieglitz, a set of four annotated photographs from the Rich and Poor series by Jim Goldberg, and Issue 16 from The Thing, which is a shower curtain with text by Dave Eggers. Each of these works presented different challenges for participants. The Williams is big, but very charming. The Stieglitz is a bit smaller with details that make you want to get up close and examine it. The Goldbergs are emotionally challenging because the annotations are very personal and often sad. The shower curtain is, well, a shower curtain—imagine a piece of art that big in the place where you bathe!

Melinda and Kathy Condray watching the Home Stories video for "The Steerage."

Melinda and Kathy Condray watching the Home Stories video for “The Steerage.”

Over the next several months, we’re going to share some our Home Stories with you here on the blog. You can also visit the BMA to see the art, and watch the Home Stories videos to discover for yourself what our participants experienced.

Making crazy quilts with artist Susie Brandt

Susie Brandt's 1970's Crazy Quilts

Susie Brandt’s 1970’s Crazy Quilt

Baltimore based artist Susie Brandt will be running a crazy quilt activity from 12pm-3pm at the BMA’s Imagining Home Opening Celebration, Sunday, October 25, 2015. Below, she explains how she fell in love with crazy quilts.

As a kid, I was completely enchanted by a crazy quilt on display at the local historical museum. Made over the course of many years by a woman working out on the front porch of her big Queen Anne house in Glens Falls, NY, it looked a lot like the quilts now on display at the BMA. I loved all the dazzling silk and velvet fabrics, and the gloriously complex feather stitching. Carefully embroidered throughout that quilt were all kinds of flowers, and fans, and spiders.

In the early 1970’s my mother and I started our own interpretation of that crazy quilt using scraps from our own home sewing projects. We made a dozen or so blocks, before we got sidetracked with other things.

Then life happened. I grew up to become an artist and carried those blocks around for decades. Last year, when my older niece was graduating high school, I dug them out and finished one quilt – using family fabrics going back three generations. I also saved some of the original blocks for a second quilt that I’ll give my younger niece when she graduates next year.

For the BMA workshop, we’ll show you how to piece your own block one patch at a time. We’ll use the decorative stitches on the sewing machine and fabrics that reflect the motifs commonly seen in crazy quilts – florals, fans, peacocks, kitties, moons and stars. Perhaps we can launch your own family project.

Imagining Home, the inaugural exhibition for the BMA’s new Center for People & Art, brings together more than 30 works from across the BMA’s collection to explore the universal theme of home. Discover paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, textiles, and works on paper from the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Islands, as well as four miniature rooms, plus a variety of interactive features in three thematic areas.

Susie Brandt's 1970's Crazy Quilts

Baker Artist Awards 2014 & 2015

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Today The Baltimore Museum of Art opens an exhibition of 12 artists who represent the Mary Sawyers Baker and b-grant prize winners from both 2014 and 2015.

Established in 2009 by the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund and managed by the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance (GBCA), the Baker Artist Awards recognizes the excellence of artists in the Baltimore community. Through significant monetary prizes for winners, the Baker Artist Awards serves artists of all disciplines who live and work in Baltimore City and its five surrounding counties. Area artists nominate themselves by uploading their portfolios onto the Baker Artist Awards website, which has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of art lovers in nearly every country around the globe. The winners are selected by a panel of jurors.

The BMA has hosted exhibitions of the winners since the inception of the Baker Artist Awards. The artworks presented this year embrace a diverse range of media that includes sculpture, photography, video, music, and mixed media installations, some of which reference the difficult issues of our time.

Each of these artists explores a facet of the world in which we live . We know artworks can evoke many reactions and we invite you to share your thoughts in the comments below about how an artwork in the exhibition changed your thoughts or feelings about contemporary life. The Museum will share these comments with the exhibition organizers—the GBCA and the Baker Foundation.

– Jay Fisher

Images, top to bottom:
Installation views of artworks by Chris Bathgate, Paul Rucker, and Brent Crothers at the BMA. Photos by Mitro Hood.

Juried and Invitational Exhibitions at the BMA

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First Annual Exhibition of Maryland Painters, Sculptors, and Printmakers exhibition, The Baltimore Museum of Art, 1933

As the recently announced 2015 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize finalists prepare for their exhibition at the BMA this summer, I am working with the Archives’ Juried and Invitational Exhibitions Records and giving much thought to the incredible creative output of Maryland’s artists over the past century and the BMA’s role in displaying it.  From the moment the BMA opened its doors in 1923, opportunities for local artists to exhibit their work were a part of each year’s schedule of exhibitions.  With the opening of the John Russell Pope building in 1929, the BMA was able to develop its own exhibitions and expand its relationship with local artists.  The records I am processing as part of the Library and Archives’ NHPRC grant project document group exhibitions such as the BMA’s Maryland and Regional Artists Exhibitions, the Baltimore International Salon of Photography, and annual exhibitions of the work of members of the Baltimore Water Color Club and the Artists’ Union of Baltimore.

This week I am nearing the end of arranging and describing the largest part of the records, the Maryland and Regional Artists Exhibitions files (21 boxes of material).  The files document a long-running series of exhibitions of the work of local and regional artists organized by the BMA beginning in 1933.  Following a highly successful series of solo exhibitions at the Museum in 1930 to 1932, space considerations and the number of artists in the state interested in exhibiting work led to the decision to instead hold a major group exhibition for Maryland artists.  Although it wasn’t long before the solo exhibitions started up again, the Maryland and Regional Artists exhibitions continued for nearly 60 years.

Exhibition catalog, Maryland Artists Twentieth Annual Exhibition, The Baltimore Museum of Art, 1952

Exhibition catalog, Maryland Artists Twentieth Annual Exhibition, The Baltimore Museum of Art, 1952

The contents of the files for each exhibition vary, but most contain material about the logistics of bringing artwork into the BMA and hanging it on the walls, facilitating purchases, and returning the work that remained after the exhibition.  Cards or lists of entries provide information about the work each artist entered.  Some files also contain correspondence with artists, jurors, and museum visitors–complaints and praise for the most part.  Through these letters, it has been interesting to note how each year the challenges of coordinating the exhibitions shifted as the BMA’s staff worked to weather difficulties such as World War II and changes in artistic influences as new art movements made their way to Baltimore.

Perhaps surprising to those who aren’t from Maryland is the number of nationally-known artists who worked in the area between 1933 and 1992: Grace Hartigan, Morris Louis, Lowell Nesbitt, Martin Puryear, Amalie Rothschild, Anne Truitt, and May Wilson, to name a few.  All submitted work to the Maryland and Regional Artists Exhibitions at least once.  Jurors for the exhibitions also included influential artists, critics, and curators such as Max Weber, Betty Parsons, Richard Tuttle, Sam Hunter, and Dore Ashton.

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Grace Hartigan, Maryland Artists Invitational exhibition, The Baltimore Museum of Art, 1968

In an effort to please artists and visitors and to support its small staff, the BMA revised the format of the exhibitions several times.  A separate exhibition for Maryland crafts was held in 1952, 1953, and 1954.  Beginning in 1953, regional exhibitions including the works of artists from Washington, D.C. and Delaware alternated years with the strictly Maryland exhibitions.  An invitational was attempted in 1968, followed by a move to biennial exhibitions from 1974-1985.  The exhibitions ultimately ended with Maryland by Invitation in 1992 which featured the work of artists Jeff Gates and Lisa Lewenz, but the commitment to Maryland artists lives on through the Sondheim exhibitions, the Baker Artists’ Prize exhibitions, and the Front Room exhibitions in the Contemporary Wing—Baltimore-born artist Sara VanDerBeek’s work is on view now!

Great News for Landmark Matisse/Diebenkorn Exhibition

Today’s grant announcement from the National Endowment of the Arts brings BMA Senior Curator Katy Rothkopf another step closer to realizing her dream of pairing the work of French artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954) and American artist Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993).

Katy first conceived the idea for the exhibition many years ago as part of the BMA’s ongoing commitment to studying Matisse’s work. She saw two drawings of a reclining woman in the BMA’s collection by both artists and noticed an unmistakable similarity between the Frenchman’s and American’s work. Yet these images were created four decades and two continents apart. Since then, Katy has examined many artworks that show resonances between the two painters. She also made several trips to California to meet with the Diebenkorn family, including the artist’s widow before she passed this year, and even got to see the Diebenkorn’s extensive personal collection of books about Matisse.

Matisse-RecliningModel

Henri Matisse. Reclining Model with a Flowered Robe, c. 1923. The Baltimore Museum of Art: The Cone Collection, BMA 1950.12.52

Diebenkorn-WomanSeated

Richard Diebenkorn. Woman Seated in a Chair, 1963. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Thomas E. Benesch Memorial Collection, BMA 1970.21.3

Diebenkorn was introduced to Matisse’s work in the early 1940s, then immersed himself in the French master’s work in 1952 when a major retrospective of the artist’s paintings came to Los Angeles. He was completely taken by the color and structure of the oil paintings and inspired by Matisse’s willingness to show evidence of his creative process, and began to seek out examples of his work whenever he could. The effect on his work was transformational. A subsequent Matisse exhibition in 1966 captivated Diebenkorn even further.

Matisse’s emphasis on geometric structure, spatial relationships, and a bold, colorful painting style was of great importance to Diebenkorn. Both artists loved to show both the inside and outside in their compositions, often focusing on windows or doorways that include views beyond. In Window, Diebenkorn pays homage to Matisse at his most radical, combining a subject that was a favorite of both artists with pared down detail and broad, geometric fields of color. The decorative wrought iron grille and solitary chair in Window further link the composition to Matisse, who made many paintings of his home and studio that included these elements, such as in Goldfish and Palette of 1914.

Matisse-Goldfish

Goldfish and Palette, 1914. The Museum of Modern Art, New York: Gift and bequest of Florene M. Schoenborn and Samual A. Marx, 507.1964

Diebenkorn-Window

Window, 1967. Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Diebenkorn and anonymous donors, 1969.125 CR1414

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fast-forward a decade later, the Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibition is now being co-organized by the BMA and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) for presentations on each coast in 2016-2017. This landmark exhibition will bring together more than 80 paintings and drawings by Matisse and Diebenkorn from museums and private collections around the world. Seeing these two great artist’s works paired side-by-side for the first time is an event everyone wants to be a part of.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a color catalogue with images of all of the works featured, as well as additional illustrations for the introduction by the distinguished Matisse scholar John Elderfield and essays by Katy Rothkopf and SFMOMA Curator Janet Bishop.

In addition to works from the BMA’s and SFMOMA’s collections, stellar examples of each artist’s work are being loaned by the Musée National d’Art Moderne Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris; the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen; The Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Albright-Knox Art Gallery in New York.

Generous support for the exhibition has come from The Henry Luce Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art in addition to the National Endowment for the Arts.

Black Box: Sharon Hayes

Sharon Hayes. ‘Ricerche: three’, 2013. Single channel HD video. 38 minutes. Edition of 5 + 1 AP. (HAYES-2013-0089). HD video still. Participants (left to right): Jasmine Brown, Laakan McHardy, Paola Lopez, Anarkalee Perera, Zehra Ali Khan, Sara Amjad. Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Leighton Gallery, Berlin

Sharon Hayes. ‘Ricerche: three’, 2013. Single channel HD video. 38 minutes. Edition of 5 + 1 AP. (HAYES-2013-0089). HD video still. Participants (left to right): Jasmine Brown, Laakan McHardy, Paola Lopez, Anarkalee Perera, Zehra Ali Khan, Sara Amjad. Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Leighton Gallery, Berlin

Do you think you’ll marry soon? Why did you come to an all-female college? Can you be more sexually free here than politically or intellectually?

Artist Sharon Hayes, acclaimed for her politically charged live performances and video works, asks these and other insightful questions to a group of college-aged women in the mesmerizing piece Ricerche: three, opening on Sunday March 15 in the BMA’s Robert and Ryda H. Levi Gallery.

The 38-minute video, which received a special mention from the Golden Lion award committee at the 2013 Venice Biennale, explores changing perspectives on gender and sexuality through the eyes of 36 students attending Mount Holyoke, an all women’s college in western Massachusetts.

Born and raised in Baltimore, Hayes returned to her hometown this past fall for the first portion of a residency at The Johns Hopkins University. She visits again in early April to continue her meetings with JHU students and to perform a live piece. The artist expects that her time in Baltimore will also inform another installment of what she intends to be an on-going series of works. Titled Ricerche (the Italian word for research or investigation) and inspired by Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1964 film Comizi d’amore (Love Meetings). For that film, Pasolini, like Hayes, acted as both documentarian and interviewer, asking Italians to discuss their attitudes about sex.

This is the BMA’s third collaboration with JHU’s Center for Advanced Media Studies, which brings internationally recognized media artists to Baltimore. This year’s project includes a new partner—JHU’s Museums in Society program, extending the reach of the artist’s topical examination of collegiate sexual identity.

Black Box: Sharon Hayes is on at the BMA from March 15 – October 11, 2015.  It has been curated by Curator of Contemporary Art Kristen Hileman and presented in collaboration with The Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Advanced Media Studies and the Museums in Society program.


Interview with Sharon Hayes at the 55th International Art Exhibition, where she received a special mention from the Golden Lion award committee.

How to Collect Art: Tips for New Collectors

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Collectors at the 2012 Baltimore Contemporary Print Fair.

The Baltimore Contemporary Print Fair (March 27-29) is a biennial fair that brings printers, publishers, and dealers to Baltimore for one weekend to sell the latest in contemporary prints and multiples. Ranging from emerging to blue chip artists, and from $500 to $50,000, there is something for everybody. The BCPF provides a wonderful opportunity for younger and first-time collectors to add reasonably priced works of art by today’s best makers, and also offers visitors the opportunity to engage directly with the people who worked with the artists to make the prints. Staff from many of the country’s most important print studios will be on hand to tell you about their experiences and help you understand how the prints were made. It’s a not-to-miss event. In addition, to make visitors feel welcome, Museum staff will be on hand to offer guidance throughout the weekend.

If you are a first-time collector, or just looking for a better experience buying art, these tips might help.

The Basics
The International Fine Print Dealers Association (IFPDA) defines an original print as a work of art on paper that has been conceived by the artist to be realized as a print, rather than as a reproduction of a work in another medium. There is always a fuzzy line between posters and prints, but suffice it to say, at the BCPF, visitors will be looking at original prints.

Condition
While most prints at the BCPF are very recent, the first thing to consider when looking at any potential purchase is condition. Check to make sure the print hasn’t been compromised, meaning it’s not scratched, torn, wrinkled, or too yellowed. You want the paper to be free of marks, creases, and dents.

Technical knowledge
If you like an image but are unfamiliar with the techniques used to realize it, ask the dealer to help you understand better. There are lots of glossaries around that describe printmaking techniques. A handy one can be found on the IFPDA’s website here: http://www.ifpda.org/content/collecting_prints/glossary.

We can’t emphasize enough the value of engaging the vendors in conversation. They are there to help you understand not only the technical aspects of a work of art, but also to help you understand what the artist was thinking; as we say in the department, the “what’s the what”.

Making a purchase
When it comes to making a purchase, please know the deal is between you and the vendor. Negotiating is part of the deal. Don’t be afraid to ask if a discount is available; it can’t hurt to try!

The bottom line on purchasing art is that purchases should not be made based on the speculative future value of the object, but it should be bought because you love it and want to live with it.

Framing
Once a purchase has been made, you’ll want to frame the work. There are many good framers in the Baltimore metro area. The museum can recommend several who will treat your purchase well. The quality of the materials the framer uses is important. The bottom line: pay for the best materials you can afford.

Care at home
Bringing your purchase home is always exciting. When considering placement within your home, several factors come into play. When possible, steady climate control is best. Dampness and heat should be avoided in the area where the print is stored, if possible. Be sure to keep your print out of direct sunlight as this can also cause damage to the ink and paper. If your print is unframed, be sure to store it flat to keep the edges from curling and/or tearing.
More information on how to care for your work on paper.

The Baltimore Contemporary Print Fair will be held at the BMA March 28-29, 2015. See the website for full details about exhibitors, and special events. Entry to the event is free for BMA Members. Tickets for non-members are $15 for both days, and $10 for one. Students and teachers with a valid I.D. are free. 

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What do you wonder about African art?

D'mba Docent Tour

A BMA docent teaches a class of fourth-graders about the Great Mother Headdress (D’mba).

The BMA’s African galleries are currently under renovation, with a planned reopening on April 26, 2015. The new galleries will be filled with visitor favorites such as our Great Mother Headdress (D’mba), shined until she sparkles and fully dressed in a new full-length costume, plus never-before-seen objects. This creates an exciting opportunity to rethink how we can help visitors understand the art in the galleries, and why it is relevant in their lives.

During the last few months, we’ve spent a lot of time brainstorming different possibilities for how we might be able to share all the interesting information we have about the art, artist, or culture on display.

Now we have lots of ideas—everything from video projects to maps to iPad apps. But one thing that we’ve kept saying is, “That sounds interesting to me, but will our visitors be interested?”

What better way to answer that question than to ask?

Docent tour in the African gallery

Docent tour in the African gallery

We want to know what you care about when you’re looking at African art. Everyone looks at these artworks through different eyes—with different experiences and knowledge shaping how they see them.  What are your questions when you see a mask, a statue of a woman, a reliquary figure, a contemporary vase, or other objects?

If you have 7 minutes to spare, please fill out our visitor research survey at the bottom of this page and let us know what you care about. You can also leave us comments on this blog post. We’d love to hear from you.

Bonus Prize: If you add your contact information at the end of the survey, you will be entered into a draw for the prize, Museum Educator for a Day. You will receive a personal gallery tour with a BMA education staff person and then have the opportunity to write a blog post about it for the BMA blog! You can choose a particular artwork, gallery, media, or anything else you can think of to write about.

Take our survey