Nature Bound: Days 6 and 7

Yesterday we put the finishing touches on Nature Bound: Illustrated Botanical Books, including applying the vinyl title wall and well as tending to a myriad of other details. This morning the exhibition opened to the public, a few days ahead of its official opening date. Below you see one of the preparators working through the "sticky" process of placing the vinyl on the exhibition's title wall. FYI, I learned that this is the same vinyl that is used for car detailing. The next view shows a very special object in the exhibition: Romeyn Hough's American Woods. Hough spent the good part of his life on this project: he personally collected wood from over 400 species of trees growing in the U.S. to include in what finally came to be fourteen volumes of wood samples and accompanying information. We're showing eight of the wood sample cards in a custom-designed, backlit case, allowing a viewer to study the intricate pattern and color of the wood. The last image shows a section of the finished exhibition installation. All-in-all, I'm pleased. I think visitors will be surprised to find out that between the library collections at the Amon Carter and the Botanic Research Institute of Texas, we have in the cultural district some of the great achievements of botanic illustration.

2011-01-25 Title Wall Application.jpg

2011-01-26 Hough Case.jpg

2011-01-25 WOP View.jpg

Nature Bound: Day 5

Hi there,

Today we nearly finished the installation of Nature Bound: Illustrated Botanical Books. Each object on display has a number that connects it with the related object information and discussion that is printed on the large panels that float above each case. Below you see one of the museum's preparators organizing a "deck" of these numbers. Below that you see the installation of the cut vinyl that makes up the title wall. We're getting close!

2011-01-24 Numbers.jpg

2011-01-24 Vinyl Install.jpg

Analog to Digital: Motor Trip to Mesa Verde

For our second installment of Analog to Digital, a new blog series documenting photographs from the Amon Carter's IMLS-funded digitization initiative, we have some very early road trip photos dating back to 1914. These images come from a tourist's photo album called Motor Trip to Mesa Verde and show not only the recently-created national park, but also the perils of driving on unpaved roads.

Unknown artist, Man shoveling mud to free car, gelatin silver print, 1914
Unknown artist, [Man shoveling mud to free car], gelatin silver print, 1914

Unknown artist, Houses destroyed by mudslide, gelatin silver print, 1914
Unknown artist, [Houses destroyed by mudslide], gelatin silver print, 1914

Unknown artist, People with large dog in car, gelatin silver print, 1914
Unknown artist, [People with large dog in car], gelatin silver print, 1914

Unknown artist, Two cars parking in front of cliff dwellings, gelatin silver print, 1914
Unknown artist, [Two cars parking in front of cliff dwellings], gelatin silver print, 1914

Milton Rogovin (1909-2011)

American photographer Milton Rogovin passed away yesterday at the age of 101. An optometrist whose business was ruined by his involvement with the Communist party, Rogovin is known for photographing the working poor in his hometown of Buffalo, New York. [NY Times obituary, and an NPR interview with Rogovin]

The following photographs comprise one of the Rogovin triptychs in the Amon Carter's photography collection and document the life of a Buffalo steelworker over several years.

Milton Rogovin, 1976, gelatin silver print
Milton Rogovin (1909-2011), 1976 from the series Portraits in Steel, gelatin silver print, ©1999 Milton Rogovin

Milton Rogovin, 1976, gelatin silver print
Milton Rogovin (1909-2011), 1976 from the series Portraits in Steel, gelatin silver print, ©1999 Milton Rogovin

Milton Rogovin, 1987, gelatin silver print
Milton Rogovin (1909-2011), 1987 from the series Portraits in Steel, gelatin silver print, ©1999 Milton Rogovin

New Series: The Amon Carter Turns 50 - Happy Birthday!

On January 21, 1961, the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art opened its doors to the public for the first time. The museum was a gift to the people of Fort Worth, a place to see and learn about great works of art. Amon G. Carter made clear that this museum would always be free and open to the public, a policy we still follow today.

Do you remember your first visit to the Amon Carter? Did any exhibits offer special meaning to you? Share your memories with us this year as we look back at our history and look forward to our future. Join the conversation here on our blog, friend us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and help us celebrate.

1961_Amon Carter Museum main gallery.jpg

Nature Bound: Day 4

Yesterday we made a lot of progress toward installing Nature Bound: Illustrated Botanical Books. All the books are now mounted on their cradles and secured to the cases. All the large information panels are also in place. At the tail end of the day, we started setting the light levels in the space. Since this is an exhibition that includes delicate watercolored images, the lights have to be around 5 foot candles in order to preserve the color. In fact, at about half way through the show, we'll have to switch all the illustrations that have watercolor, so there will be an opportunity to see even more spectacular images. Yesterday we also placed the custom case that will show the fascinating samples of wood from Romeyn Hough's American Woods. The case has backlighting that will allow visitors to study the coloring and patterning of the wood. The case is pictured rather murkily in the bottom right hand corner of the image below.

2011-01-21 Install.jpg

New Blog Series: Analog to Digital

Last summer, the Amon Carter was awarded a $150,000 grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to digitize and catalog approximately 25,000 photographs from our permanent collection. Work began on the project in the fall, and we are happy to say that we’ve already digitized over 1,000 photographs and cataloged even more. Due to preservation practices and the enormity of our photography collection, these works are exhibited only rarely and many have never been seen by the public.

As the photos are digitized, we’ll post some here on the blog to share with you. Check back often for rarely- and never-before-seen works from the photography collection in posts titled 'Analog to Digital.'

Our first installment comes from one of the first objects digitized under the IMLS grant, an album containing nearly 200 tourist images, all by an unknown photographer, from around the turn of the century. These four pictures just seemed to jump out as I worked on their cataloging.

Mr. McMasters, Mr. Osborne, Mr. Ballor. Redlands., gelatin silver print, ca. 1900-1910

Bridge Accident at Tempe, Arizona, 1902, gelatin silver print, 1902

Tempe, Arizona., gelatin silver print, ca. 1900-1910

[Pen of ostriches], gelatin silver print, ca. 1900-1910

Nature Bound: Days 2 and 3

Hi there,

Work continues on the installation of Nature Bound: Illustrated Botanical Books. The exhibition features 41 objects, mainly books, and the museum's installation and preparation crew had to make custom acrylic cradles to display each book. As they installed each cradle, a lot of fine tuning is necessary to hold the pages open to an illustration without damaging the book. Also, each case has different dimensions, requiring that each cradle and book be placed appropriate to the case's size. It's a slow process. Still, I think they finished almost five cases by yesterday. At the tail end of the day, they also brought up the very large text panels in preparation for hanging them above the cases today. Stay tuned ... it's looking good!

2011-01-20 Steve Hands.jpg

2011-01-20 Panel Staging.jpg

Nature Bound: Day 1

Hi library fans,

Yesterday was the first installation day for Nature Bound: Illustrated Botanical Books, an exhibition featuring a who's who list of great illustrated botanical works from the collections of the Amon Carter and the Botanical Research Institute of Texas research libraries. You all have probably learned from reading the various Amon Carter blogs that exhibition planning starts months, even years, before an exhibition opens to the public, so yesterday's install of the first book/case was reason for cheering. I must say, as co-curator for the exhibition, I feel like this is going to be a handsome and informative one, so mark your calendars for opening day, January 29. Here are a few behind-the-scenes shots of the day's activities. Forgive the quality of these, but it's best I could do with my mobile phone.

2011-01-18 Case 2 Book 1.jpg

2011-01-18 Case 2.jpg

2011-01-18 Room View.jpg

Forever Young

Alice Vanderbilt Shepard is the subject of a lovely painting by John Singer Sargent, whose birthday we remember today. Sargent was a renowned artist in great demand when he was commissioned to paint a portrait of Alice's mother, Margaret Louise Vanderbilt Shepard. Apparently Sargent was so taken by Alice that he asked to paint her, one of the few subjects of his own choosing.

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), Alice Vanderbilt Shepard, oil on canvas, 1888

By the way, the portrait of Alice's mother is just down the road at the San Antonio Museum of Art.