Monday, December 15, 2014

Research: Worcester Art Museum "Then and Now" by Travis Simpkins. Update #30

     -In the first photo, from about 1960, it is apparent that the large recessed arch between the third and fourth floors was designed with a specific intent… that being to display a mural replica of one of the famous Byzantine "Hagia Sophia" mosaics. On the sides of the staircase are two elevators: a small passenger elevator on the left, and a large freight elevator on the right. Wide doorways allow for a open flow of exhibition space from east to west across the landing. Today, the "Hagia Sophia" mural is still there, but is walled-up behind the blank archway. The old passenger elevator was retired (with utility closets on each level now), and the old freight elevator was renovated to suit dual purposes.
     -The second "Then and Now" composition shows the third floor landing and Jeppson Gallery, both pre and post Idea Lab. In the 2010 photo, Thomas Crawford's "Boy Playing Marbles" can be seen at center. The sculpture was not in this vulnerable position very long before being relocated back to the American Galleries below. Also, through the door in the same photo, Winslow Homer's "The Gale" can be seen hanging as the centerpiece of the Jeppson Gallery. A long-popular painting amongst visitors, hopefully the Homer will be amongst those pieces to be installed in the renovated Rose Gallery next month.

     -The sketch depicts Thomas Crawford's Neoclassical "Boy Playing Marbles" (1853), currently residing in Gallery 332.

     -Recently, WAM Conservator Phil Klausmeyer and I have been trading stories about the past uses and appearances of the Museum's 4th floor. One such incarnation involved a commissioned mural, representing a mosaic of the "Virgin and Child flanked by Justinian I and Constantine I" from Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (Constantinople). Here is a comparison (with the real deal on the right), giving some vague indication of likeness, which was supposed to have been a very faithful representation.

4th Floor Galleries. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

3rd Floor Galleries. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

Boy Playing Marbles. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

Hagia Sophia Mural. Worcester Art Museum