Fred Wilson, Mining the Museum, 1992-1993, Maryland Historical Society
In this piece Fred Wilson reshuffled the collection of the Maryland Historical Society, a museum focused on celebrating the history of the state, to showcase a broader view of history than was currently being presented. The exhibitions at the museum tended to focus on one particular viewpoint, that of the white male.
After Wilson’s reassembling of the museum’s objects, the first room featured a silver globe that read “Truth” - an award given out by clubs in the early 20th century - sitting in between a row of three black pedestals and three white pedestals (pictured above). The white pedestals featured busts of Napoleon, Henry Clay, and Andrew Jackson - three white men who had never lived in Maryland. The black pedestals were empty but were labelled “Harriet Tubman”, “Benjamin Banneker”, and “Frederick Douglass” - three importan African Americans from Maryland that the historical society had overlooked.
Another installation within this piece, titled Metalwork 1793 - 1880 and pictured above, featured silver dishware displayed alongside a pair of iron slave shackles. Typically artisanal wares would be displayed separately from more traumatic artifacts, but by placing the two together Wilson made it impossible for the viewer to separate the romance and beauty of the time period from the horrors that made it possible. Without the wealth gained from slave labor such beautiful pitchers would not have been affordable to many of Maryland’s early residents.
These simple yet powerful visual displays manages to educate the viewer, making them think for themselves, without lecturing or criticizing. An obvious push in the right direction causes even the most unwilling audience member to reexamine their preexisting views of the colonial era. This alone turned the Maryland Historical Society into a far more educational tool than it ever was before Wilson’s reshuffling.
During an interview about the installation, Wilson stated “What they put on view says a lot about a museum, but what they don’t put on view says even more.”
- 1 month ago
- 1 month ago
Installation Curated by Fred Wilson // Mining the Museum // Maryland Historical Society // 1992-1993
Fred Wilson expertly uses simple curatorial methods to expose African American presence within the Maryland Historical Society’s preexisting permanent collection. No art or artifacts were loaned from outside sources. This shocking exhibition uses only available materials to expose the gritty truth about formerly whitewashed Maryland history.
Because curation is worth studying too.
Please feel free to message with questions! See this for written reception of the exhibition at the time it was installed.
- 2 months ago
- 10 months ago
A brilliant way to think about museums:
The Brain Scoop
What is a Museum?
Since my personal definition of what I believe a Museum to be has changed so much over the last few years, I’ve been really curious how others view these institutions. Are they institutions? what are they about - collections, preservation, education, display, entertainment, research?
What do you think? How would you define a museum?
The word “museum” traces its origin to Greek, meaning a temple dedicated to the Muses, the goddesses of inspiration in art and science. And today, millennia later, I think they hold a similar purpose: spaces set aside for inspiration in the arts and sciences.
Different museums accomplish that in different ways.
Some museums focus on preservation or conservation, ensuring that the past survives into the future, and that we use the former to better the latter. These sort of institutions aren’t intended for everyone, at least not directly. They serve to inspire mainly scientists and those dedicated to the study of yesterday and tomorrow.
Other museums focus on education. The science is often done off the exhibit floor. These museums try to enrich the present and future lives of their patrons by exposing them to worlds past. Some have broad audiences, some have specific, but I think they are democratic: Anyone who walks through their doors can see science and art come alive.
Most museums fall somewhere in the middle, trying to do the best work of both worlds.
Ultimately, I think a museum is an institution dedicated to creating connections. A museum is a meeting point between two arrows of time, the past and the future, and two arrows of complexity, greater and lesser, that originate at the point we call us, and now.
In other words, museums are the fourth dimension.
- 11 months ago
One of the painful things about seeing Detroit city manager Kevyn Orr and Christie’s auction house taking steps toward possibly selling off Detroit’s art is that there doesn’t seem to be much Joe Citizen can do about it: Detroit’s situation is so dire that the state has given the city manager extraordinary powers. The only recourse art lovers and people who care about the future of Detroit have is to publicize how the DIA has been an important part of Detroit’s past and that the institution and the art in it should be a cornerstone of Detroit’s future. Hopefully raising awareness and putting pressure on Orr and Christie’s helps keep Detroit’s art in Detroit, available to the public.
Last week thousands of art lovers took an important first step in calling attention to a disaster-in-the-making by participating in “A Day for Detroit,” which helped spotlight great works of art in the collections at the Detroit Institute for Arts. According to the DIA, over eight million people saw your tweets and blog posts. So let’s keep it going!
The Modern Art Notes Podcast wants to help draw attention to the way art at the DIA is important to Detroit’s present and future. The entire August 29 episode of The MAN Podcast will consist of segments highlighting the ways in which the DIA and the art in the collections there are vital to the city of Detroit.
Please help us help Detroit!: We want to hear about how the DIA and the art there have been a part of your life. Did the art at the DIA help you or your children understand something about the world you might not have otherwise known? Did it inspire you to create something? Or has the DIA made your life richer in another way? If you have a story of how the DIA and the art at the DIA have been important to you, your children or your family, please email The MAN Podcast at TestimonyForDetroit@gmail.com. We’ll pick as many of the best stories as we can for broadcast on Aug. 29. Please be sure to include your contact information so we can reply and record your story!
Please re-blog this, and tell a friend!
If you’re new to The Modern Art Notes Podcast:
(Image via Flickr user Jason Mrachina.)
(via waltersartmuseum)Source: manpodcast
- 11 months ago
Kelly Clarkson recently bought Jane Austen’s ring for £152,450. It is one of only three known examples of Jane Austen’s jewellery, and thus has been declared extremely rare and a national treasure. Therefore, it has a temporary export ban. It has raised the question as to where items of national significance belong, and whether Britain should return national treasures of other nations.
General Slocum’s 12th Army Corps just now passed the door on their way to Harpers Ferry. Just from Gettysburg. They were at the battles on the 2d & 3d July. William M. Mullin is among them & is now in the house. He belonged to the 1st Eastern Shore (Maryland) Regiment.
Wednesday July 8, 1863 -9 ¾ o’clock AM
General Geary’s Division (12th Army Corps) are now passing the door from Gettysburg to Williamsport. They are marching in the street— one complete slurp of mud. It was raining nearly all day yesterday & night & this morning. It has been raining & is now raining. Most too bad for the poor soldiers and yet they all appear to be lively, singing & cracking jokes.
Wednesday July 8, 1863 9 ¾ o’clock AM
- Jacob Engelbrecht’s diary
- 1 year ago