Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Research: Worcester Art Museum "Then and Now" by Travis Simpkins. Update #52

     -In the first photo from 1910, the grandly ornate plaster casts of Ghiberti's "Gates of Paradise" and Michelangelo's "Tomb of Lorenzo de' Medici" are in stark contrast to the minimalist decor of the Contemporary Gallery today. While this room now serves a single purpose, up until the late 1990's it was a multi-functional auditorium... hosting everything from academic lectures to Alfred Hitchcock Film Festivals. If you enter the gallery and face right, the outlines of the door and window to the projection room are still visible on the wall.
     -The second photo, from 1920, shows an elegant interior vista capped by a petite arch and colonnade. Looking from the third floor landing across the main staircase towards a small balcony room and the Lower Third Floor gallery below, it is a view that no longer exists. About 70+ years ago, a hurricane came through the area, causing severe damage to the roof and original glass skylights of the Worcester Art Museum. The administration at the time weighed two choices: 1) Repair the roof, or 2) Take the opportunity to construct a fourth floor on top of the existing galleries. They chose the latter option, lowering the ceiling of the third floor and removing most of the grand original architectural features. The same viewpoint cannot be revisited today beyond in a general sense, but I positioned the camera in such a way as to include part of the cases flanking the entrance to the Lower Third Floor Galleries, which are the only elements that remain from the 1920 shot.
     -In the third photo, from 1920, Medieval works are showcased in the calm southeast corner of the first addition's Main Hall. The mantle piece and andirons at center are now displayed in the less-sunny Gallery 111. This same corner sees much more fast-paced action today, with waitstaff buzzing in and out of the Cafe kitchen area. The decorative corner columns and capitals are still there, the window was lengthened and a new door opening was cut, but the area is still recognizable when compared side-by-side. The unseen area behind the wall now contains the kitchen and storage rooms, but once housed Museum Administration offices.
     -The photo at left in the last "Then and Now" composition, from 1984, shows the inaugural exhibit in the freshly-built Hiatt Wing: The Collector's Cabinet. (This view was partway through the gallery, with another room just before it at the entrance). The current view from the same spot in Knights!, finds Batman presiding over his "Knights" in the center of the gallery.

     -The sketches depict the Ancient Greek "Colossal Female Head", Richard Greenough's "Cupid Bound" and a silver coffee pot by Paul Revere.

2nd floor. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

3rd floor. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

2nd floor. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

2nd floor. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

Ancient Greek Goddess. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

Cupid Bound. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

Paul Revere silver coffee pot. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins