Taking Stock

Happily, 2012 was a productive year at Carnegie Museum of Art. In the spirit of the stock-taking that is rampant during this season, what follows are some highlights of the year at CMA.

Attendance was up 4% at the Oakland museums due in large part to our very rich programming. Our exhibitions and installations were varied, often deeply researched, and generally well received. Their depth and scope was an enormous achievement for a small staff like ours. The curators conceptualize the shows, do the research necessary, and form important relationships with artists, galleries, and lenders; but their efforts would be for nothing without the support of registrars, exhibitions administrators, financial managers, development officers, editors, designers, educators, facilities and operations staff, security guards, and assistants of every stripe. The successes of the last year belong to all of them.

Teenie Harris, Photographer: An American Story, the much-lauded exhibition of work by Pittsburgh’s historically preeminent photographer, continued into the first months of 2012; the summer’s Impressionism in a New Light: From Monet to Stieglitz, drawn largely from our collection, showed the broad influence of the Impressionist movement internationally and was among the first Impressionist exhibitions to include Pictorialist photography. In the Forum Gallery, Natural History: Forum 69 coupled contemporary works from the collection that addressed the natural world with a non-digital interactive feature: Viewers used sticky notes with images of works in the show on them to curate their own exhibitions or riff on the art before them. Curators and educators at Carnegie Museum of Natural History created their own responses to the Forum exhibition; they related exhibits and displays in CMNH to artworks in the show, adding an often playful scientific perspective to the open dialogue.

Cecil Walter Hardy Beaton, "Baba Beaton, Wanda Baille-Hamilton, Lady Bridget Poulett," c. 1920, Promised gift of William T. Hillman, featured in "Yours Truly: Privately Collected Photographs"
Cecil Walter Hardy Beaton, “Baba Beaton, Wanda Baille-Hamilton, Lady Bridget Poulett,” c. 1920, Promised gift of William T. Hillman, featured in “Yours Truly: Privately Collected Photographs”

Our fall/winter schedule began with the first phase of the reinstallation of our permanent collection galleries. We rehung four galleries housing art created between c. 1800 and 1945, focusing on our most art-historically important works and producing new and improved didactic material, both digital and traditional. By the end of 2012, we had all of the following (in order of appearance) on view simultaneously: White Cube, Green Maze: New Art Landscapes in the Heinz Architectural Center, a breakthrough exhibition focusing on six sites around the world that integrate art, architecture, and landscape, challenging the preeminence of any one form; Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World’s Fairs, 1851–1939, a major exhibition that involved years of curatorial research and travel to examine the impact of technological advances on design; Cory Arcangel: Masters, an overview of the career of a young artist with a hacker’s sensibility; and Yours Truly: Privately Collected Photographs, a lyrical and romantic photographic essay that includes famous images by many of the greatest names in the field. White Cube, Green Maze and Inventing the Modern World are part of our touring exhibition program, which means that they will continue to bring renown to the museum and its city, contributing mightily to Pittsburgh’s famous “livability” quotient.

Some highlights among our many 2012 acquisitions include an elegant and rare small sculpture by Aristide Maillol (c. 1900); an exquisite large chandelier by Belgian designer Henry van de Velde (1904); a portfolio of 14 lithographs by the mid-century German artist Sigmar Polke (1968); and a video by LA artist Frances Stark that examines the nature of internet relationships (2011). In addition, five iconic photographs shown in Impressionism in a New Light became promised gifts to the museum, greatly supporting our relatively new and strong commitment to the medium.

Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet? One should definitely be to come often to Carnegie Museum of Art in 2013.  Much of last fall’s programming continues into the first months of 2013, and 2013 is the year of the Carnegie International, opening in October. Enjoy all of it.

And have a great New Year!

Until next month,

Lynn

Inside the Museum is Carnegie Museum of Art director Lynn Zelevansky’s blog about the local and global impacts of the museum and the art world. For past installments, please visit the archive.