Monday, December 8, 2014

Research: Worcester Art Museum "Then and Now" by Travis Simpkins. Update #28

     -The first photo, from 1933, was taken shortly after the Renaissance Court building was constructed. The 26-foot long, 500-year-old Flemish tapestry of "The Last Judgment" is theatrically stretched above the trio of archways. Modernist paintings (probably here on loan) flank the openings. A cord hanging to the right closed the curtains, and the tapestry could be raised and lowered via a mechanized pulley system located above the lay lights (which is still there, but the system is in pieces and non-functional). Without the Antioch mosaic installed, it is also apparent how the granite floor was arranged in a complex highly-symmetrical pattern based on size/shape. The visual effect is less noticeable today with the floor cut up and covered in places, but if you enter through the Salisbury doors at look straight down at the threshold, you'll see that all the stones branch out symmetrically from that central point (except for the fourth stone in; the one odd variable). The Renaissance Court today has less walkable floor space, but is still theatrical in it's arrangement.
     -The view in the second "Then and Now" composition is one level up, on the balcony, facing the same direction. The 1987 photo has a nice old/new contrast with "The Last Judgment" tapestry (nearing the end of it's six decades on display at WAM) seen on the wall behind an inflatable Andy Warhol soup can balloon. Today, visitors on the balcony are greeted with "These Days of Maiuma" (2013) by Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison.

     -The sketch depicts the Tang Dynasty terracotta "Horse", circa 618 - 907 A.D., on display in the Chinese Gallery.

     -These cables, motor and pulleys (only one is shown here, but there are two) were part of the system designed to raise and lower the "Last Judgment" tapestry. For certain events and performances, the grand tapestry was lowered to cover the three arched openings to the Salisbury Lobby, and serve as a stage backdrop. The mechanism was well measured and balanced, and the system was easy to operate. There were only three controls: Raise, Lower and Stop.

Renaissance Court. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

Renaissance Court. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

Horse. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

Pulley Lift System. Worcester Art Museum