Thursday, November 6, 2014

Research: Worcester Art Museum "Then and Now" by Travis Simpkins. Update #20

     -In the first photo, from 1920, early Renaissance works are showcased inside a quiet corner gallery. This room was located on the lower level of the first building addition of the Worcester Art Museum. Revisiting the same spot today, now greatly changed, finds the viewer in the dining area of the Café. The space was opened up, both interior load-bearing walls in the old photo were torn down, and replaced with the necessary big support columns at left.
     -The second "Then and Now" composition shows European Gallery 209, and contrasts pre-renovation 2008 with the present. One of WAM's greatest treasures, Paul Gauguin's "The Brooding Woman", can be seen (in different placements) in both photos.

     -The sketch depicts the Neoclassical marble sculpture of "Cupid Bound (Cupid and the Tortoise)", 1863, by Richard Greenough.

     -This year marks 42 years since the Worcester Art Museum was brazenly robbed. It is a seldom discussed, but very important event in the museum's history. On the afternoon of May 17, 1972, during open hours, two thieves (armed with a concealed revolver) entered the museum and removed four valuable works from the walls of the European Galleries: including Gauguin's "Brooding Woman" and Rembrandt's "Saint Bartholomew". While exiting through the Renaissance Court with the paintings, the thieves drew the weapon and shot the Salisbury door guard when he hindered their haphazard escape. Critically wounded, the guard survived, thanks to First Aid care provided by a visitor (Security can be a thankless and potentially dangerous job. Please, on occasion, let the guards know you appreciate it). Due to the efforts of the FBI, Worcester Police and information provided by other criminals, the four masterpieces were returned to WAM mere weeks later.
     My friend Anthony Amore, Chief Investigator and Director of Security at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, has co-written a book on the subject, "Stealing Rembrandts". Full of great insight and detail, his book offers a thoroughly researched account of the 1972 Worcester Art Museum Heist, as well as other daring art thefts.

Cafe. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

European Galleries. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

Cupid Bound. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

FBI and Police- Worcester Art Museum Heist, 1972