Last week was OSU’s Spring Break, and I had the distinct pleasure of taking a group on a week-long tour of London—plus a day trip to Bath. Among the students and staff accompanying me on the trip were our two OSUMA graduate research assistants, Mary Kathryn Moeller and Krystle Brewer, and staff member Jordan Griffis. Together, we explored museums, galleries, historic sites—and had a ton of fun! Truly blurring the line between work and holiday, we were keeping our eyes open for innovative museum practices and engaging artworks all week. In this post, you’ll get a glimpse of some of the things we learned!
Jordan, Mary Kathryn, and Krystle inside a sculpture, “Circling,” by Christopher Janney (2005) at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport.
Visiting England’s masterpieces (in this case, Holbein’s “Ambassadors,” at the National Gallery) was a must. I enjoyed the symmetry between Krystle and Mary Kathryn’s companionate seeking of knowledge and the erudite subjects of Holbein’s painting!
An exhibition of work by David Nash at Kew Gardens. The gallery presentation was fairly straightforward, but…
…some of the work was installed in Kew’s greenhouses. (David Nash, “Furrowed Oak,” 1991. Installed in the Temperate House, Kew Gardens.)
Sculpture wasn’t the only thing we found in the Temperate House! Mary Kathryn said hello to a surprisingly social goldfish.
On Monday we went to the Courtauld Gallery—and out the window we saw several colorful sheep. Of course we had to investigate!
One of the sheep was even OSU orange!
The colorful sheep were announcing the “Wool House,” an exhibition of art, interior design, and clothing made from wool. The exhibition is sponsored by HRH the Prince of Wales, who has been interested in local, sustainable agriculture for many years. The rooms throughout the exhibition included weaving demonstrations, interactive displays, and more! Everything was available for purchase or order.
From commercial to anti-capitalist: on Tuesday evening we went on a street art tour, led by a street artist who was incredibly knowledgeable. Street art raises issues of legality, authenticity, aesthetics… and has a fascinating history.
From very new to very old (although ancient Romans, too, were graffitists!). At the Roman baths in, of course, Bath.
The museum about the Roman baths is essentially a building constructed around and through the ancient architecture, which itself has been built over and modified for centuries.
The OSUMA has a good representation of ancient Roman material in our collection, and just before we left we were discussing how we might display our coins in the opening exhibition at the Postal Plaza Gallery. So when we discovered this informative and elegant display at the baths in Bath, we had to take a photo!
A close-up of the coin display, which combined shelf mounts with wall mounts, and an informational graphic on the left-hand side (not pictured).
All in all, we visited ten museums and a half-dozen commercial galleries—in addition to historic sites throughout London (plus Stonehenge!). Mary Kathryn and Krystle both went behind the scenes, too—working in the Tate’s print study room and interviewing a commercial gallery director. The sheer variety of venues, display styles, programs, and viewing experiences reminded me that the idea of an art museum should be stretchy, always allowing for the incorporation of the unexpected. Also, I hope our museum will always be as welcoming to emerging professionals as we found all of our UK host institutions to be.