Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What are your favorite Mississippi buildings?

The AIA/Mississippi has a poll at their website, where you can vote for your five favorite Mississippi buildings. Since I am QUITE CERTAIN that the LRMA building is one of your favorites, I recommend visiting and voting: AIA/Mississippi. Look at bottom left for the "vote now" button. You'll click "add to favorites" for up to five buildings, then click on "vote now." Easy-peasy.

Vote early, vote often!

From our handbook:

Located on a broad, tree-lined avenue among turn-of-the-century homes near the center of town, the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art is a Georgian Revival structure designed by New Orleans architect Rathbone deBuys. Large, double-hung sash windows accentuate an exterior of local brick with Indiana limestone. The slender, attenuated metal columns in front were made locally by the Laurel Machine and Foundry Company.

The interior of the building utilized the expertise of the Chicago interior design firm of Watson and Walton. The walls are paneled in quarter-sawn golden oak, accented by handwrought ironwork by Samuel Yellin and a ceiling of handmolded plaster. Cork floors are found throughout the Museum.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Guest Blogger: Tommie Rodgers, LRMA Registrar

From the Truck to the Walls

Do you ever wonder what it takes to get an exhibition in the door and on the walls? At the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, it all starts in a dimly lit conference room where Board and staff members discuss future possibilities. The options can be as varied as those meeting and can come in all different prices, sizes, and materials. Lending agencies can be individual artists, museums, or exhibition rental companies. Potential exhibition proposals are usually received in the mail from one of the above and the curator reviews each option before the quarterly meeting.

There are several criteria that the committee considers when selecting an exhibition. We first look at the relevance to our community. Does our community have any insight in this exhibition? Will it be well attended because it’s familiar or because few know about the subject?

We can showcase an exhibition of works that can cost as little as a $1,000 or we can book one that can cost us on the high end of $30,000. The high-priced rental exhibitions are few and only occur every two to five years. While those are our general fee ranges, that doesn’t mean every museum has the same budget constraints and every year the budget is different.

The exhibition is also reviewed for the feasibility of shipping, insurance and man-power. We have a small staff and have to consider whether additional movers and packers will need to be hired, whether we will need to rent climate-controlled storage units for the crates and if our gallery space is adequately sized to accommodate the entire exhibition. If the objects are three dimensional, then do we have enough pedestals? And, is there a time slot available that works with our schedule?

Once those issues are tackled, the curator is ready to sign a contract and put the exhibition on the schedule. Amazingly, most exhibitions are booked about three years in advance. If we are producing printed materials, we sometimes need that extra time for writing, photography and publication design, but usually, we begin three to six months ahead to work on educational materials and publicity. Transportation is generally decided by the lenders and I’m alerted weeks in advance of the shipping details. Loans from local and regional lenders are sometimes transported by the museum staff. Distance, size, schedules and costs determine those choices.

Every department plays a role in mounting an exhibition. The curator books the exhibition, coordinates the retrieval of scholarly information and directs the staff in the contract regulations. The development director solicits funds from grants, businesses and individuals to pay for the exhibition. The marketing director creates press releases and ads for newspapers, magazines and sometimes billboards, as well as works with television stations to get the word out. The education staff creates learning tools to teach about the artwork being viewed. The librarian purchases books and materials for use by the staff and patrons concerning the exhibition. The building superintendent assists with the unloading, moving and unpacking of crates and hangs the objects. And the registrar facilitates insurance, the arrival, departure and storage of crates, unpacking and packing, as well as the recording of changes in condition of artworks.

Once an exhibition arrives, is unpacked and examined for changes in condition, then the curator arranges the works in a manner that is visually pleasing and understandable. Works are hung or placed, labels and signage are hung, and lights are set.

Then, it’s showtime! An opening reception and lecture are usually scheduled with each exhibition for the public. The reception gives the staff some finality to each exhibition installation and is an event that the community enjoys.

With many exhibitions, I work in storage or in the galleries for at least two weeks and sometimes three. It just takes that long to pack one show and get another one up. The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art usually mounts five to six exhibitions annually.

So you see, the exhibitions don’t just appear out of thin air, nor do they install themselves overnight. There can be other facets to the exhibition process such as construction, publications, and museum shop specialty items. These issues generally take place at large museums and occur here sporadically.

Remember to check out the Museum’s website at www.LRMA.org for classes, exhibitions and events. The Museum’s hours are Tuesday - Saturday from 10 a.m. - 4:45 p.m. and Sundays from 1-4 p.m.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

PSA: Emergency Preparedness

National Task Force Releases New Tools to Protect Cultural Heritage

Resources Will Aid in Disaster Preparedness and Recovery

WASHINGTON, D.C.—A new collection of handy tools designed especially for libraries, archives, museums, historic sites, and historic preservation and arts organizations has been released by the Heritage Emergency National Task Force. The tools are the result of the Task Force’s “Lessons Applied” initiative to develop practical applications for the lessons from Hurricane Katrina, such as helping cultural institutions apply for disaster aid and developing relationships with emergency responders.

The new tools are available as free downloads at www.heritageemergency.org:

• Tips for Working with Emergency Responders. Getting to know local emergency responders and how they work before disaster strikes can help keep staff and collections safe. This handy sheet tells how to find and build relationships with emergency responders, as well as what information needs to be exchanged to help responders protect cultural institutions.

• Guide to Navigating FEMA and SBA Funding. This concise Web site leads cultural institutions through the process of applying to the Small Business Administration (SBA) and FEMA for assistance after major disasters. Links put policies, application forms, and other necessary paperwork at the user’s fingertips along with simple, step-by-step instructions for the application process.

• MayDay. MayDay is an annual event that encourages cultural institutions to undertake one simple emergency preparedness task. Created by the Society of American Archivists, MayDay was expanded in 2007 to include libraries, museums, and arts and historic preservation organizations. This year hundreds of organizations promoted the message, and FEMA featured MayDay on its Web site. The Task Force has produced a list of suggested MayDay activities, as well as promotional materials.

• Recommended Professional Emergency Management Training. Most staff members want to help in the aftermath of an emergency at their institutions or in their communities. The free courses listed in this resource teach cultural heritage staff and volunteer teams about local, state, and federal disaster response frameworks already in place, as well as official protocols and structure, terminology, and key local contacts.

Panels composed of Task Force members and other experts have been working since October 2006 to prepare new resources and develop longer-term recommendations in the areas of incentives for preparedness, working with first responders, effective regional response, funding, and coordination among service organizations. The Task Force met July 17, 2007, to announce the new tools and discuss results of a member survey on Katrina, which will help the group prepare for future events. Other proposed initiatives include a preparedness poster, speakers’ bureau on cultural heritage emergencies, guidelines for mutual assistance networks, GIS standards for cultural collections, a collections stabilization fund, and a new Foundation Center guide identifying disaster resources.

The “Lessons Applied” initiative has been made possible through grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Bay and Paul Foundations and the volunteer efforts of Task Force members. See www.heritagepreservation.org/lessons/panels.html for a complete roster of panel members.

The Heritage Emergency National Task Force is a partnership of 41 national service organizations and federal agencies created to protect cultural heritage from the damaging effects of natural disasters and other emergencies. The Task Force was founded in 1995 and is co-sponsored by Heritage Preservation and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

For over 30 years, Heritage Preservation has been the national, nonprofit advocate for the proper care of all cultural heritage—in museums, libraries, homes, and town squares. For more information, visit www.heritagepreservation.org. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is an independent federal agency created in 1965. It is the largest funder of humanities programs in the United States. For more information, visit www.neh.gov.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Guest Blogger: Mark Brown, Curator of Education

Arthur Silverman Sculpture Returns to Lauren Rogers Museum of Art

On Friday, June 22, Corten Duo III, a sculpture by Arthur Silverman, was returned to the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art. The large metal outdoor sculpture, which was on display at Sawmill Square Mall for more than two decades, was installed on a newly prepared concrete pad on the front lawn of the Museum.

Although originally from New York, Silverman has been a New Orleans resident for more than 25 years. Before creating sculpture, Silverman was a practicing physician. Soon, sculpture became much more than a hobby, causing Silverman to give up his medical practice. Fourteen large-scale public commissions can be seen in the New Orleans area alone, including universities, commercial and government buildings. Silverman has exhibited his pieces nationally and is included in such important collections as the John Rosenkrans Collection, Woodside, CA, the Fisher Family Collection, San Francisco, CA, the Philip Johnson Building in Washington D.C., the New Orleans Museum of Art, and of course, the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art here in Laurel.

Corten Duo III, typical of Silverman’s work, is a freestanding geometric metal sculpture composed of his signature tetrahedrons. A tetrahedron consists of four flat triangles, much like a cube consists of six flat squares. In Silverman’s judgement, the tetrahedron, being somewhat non-traditional, when stacked, sectioned and joined, allows for a great variety of forms. Much of his work is associated with that of the Minimalists, which is characterized by obvious mathematical and geometric relationships, ultimately limiting emotional responses. However, Silverman states "my sculpture is inspired, but not constrained to mathematics, specifically geometry. For more than 20 years I’ve been investigating tetrahedral ideas for sculpture. My primary interest is in large-scale outdoor work. I like the idea that the public and the site are very important considerations."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Guest Blogger: Holly Dodd, Director of Marketing

The Beatles, London, 1967, Copyright: The Estate of Linda McCartney, 1998.

At the Museum -

The 1960s were turbulent years on the American political and social scenes with broad strokes of change happening on every front. The decade was also culturally monumental, evidenced by the fact that forty years later we are heavily influenced by the art, find ourselves revisiting the fashions, and still adore the music that sprang abundantly from that most creative and fascinating time in our history.

Linda Eastman McCartney, late wife of Beatles legend Paul McCartney, was in the midst of all that social upheaval. Through her life’s work, she had a front row seat and backstage pass to the music scene of the Sixties. She photographed everybody who was anybody during the biggest rock and roll explosion to date.

Fifty-one of these photographs will hang on the walls of the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art this summer from July 19 to September 20. LRMA will be the last venue on the North American tour of Linda McCartney’s Sixties: Portrait of an Era, and we are planning some special events to tie in with the show.

Gabriele Abbott, North American Tour Coordinator for the Estate of Linda McCartney, will be in Laurel for the opening and will give a gallery talk at 6 p.m. on the evening of July 19. After the gallery talk, there will be a Sixties Party from 7 - 9 p.m. The Wes Lee Trio will play selections from the long list of musicians represented in the show, including The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones, The Who, B. B. King, Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, Otis Redding and many more.

Guests are encouraged to participate in a Far-Out and Groovy Costume Contest to be held during the party. Dig out your go-go boots, mini-skirts, love beads, headbands, fringed vests and platform shoes! Decorations and food will follow the theme of the evening as well - - expect lava lamps, hula hoops and other memorabilia.

I hope you will join us for a fun evening celebrating the Sixties. As for the exhibit, anyone who remembers the Sixties or has heard the name "Woodstock" should see this show. The works are very honest and very intimate, revealing McCartney’s unique ability to capture her subject’s true essence and the sometimes fragile personalities of these cultural icons. You won’t want to miss it.

The Museum is located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Seventh Street in historic downtown Laurel and is open 10:00 a.m. until 4:45 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1:00 until 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free. For more information, call LRMA at 601-649-6374 or visit the Museum’s website, www.LRMA.org.