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Playing with Pictures at The Met, New York

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has recently mounted some photographic exhibitions showcasing 19th-century British photographers, almost all of whom were male.

However, the latest display, Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage, is dedicated to the ladies, those accomplished Victorian women who used their ladylike skills to create humorous, often bizarre, photocollage albums.

These albums, created for fun, were just one of the many pastimes of aristocratic ladies of the 19th Century including Princesses, Countesses, Viscountesses and many others.

The display showcases more than 40 album pages shown in frames, together with 13 entire albums exhibited in cases. The individual pages of each album can be viewed on a “virtual album” on nearby computer monitors.

The exhibition shows how the traditional arts of drawing and painting were combined with photography to create unusual, often satirical results. For example, Georgina Berkeley created animals with human heads. Famous, or not so famous personalities were morphed onto everyday household items or fashion accessories, as shown by Victoria Alexandrina Anderson-Pelham, Countess of Yarborough’s Mixed Pickles. A piece by Alexandra, Princess of Wales, provides a social record of every class of Victorian society.

Photography, Photocollage and the Victorians

By the middle of the 19th Century, photography was becoming an increasingly popular activity in England. The studio portrait and the fashion for the carte de visite – a visiting card bearing a photo of its owner – kept the professional photographers busy.

It was fashionable for cartes de visite to be collected by aristocratic ladies, many of whom were also keen amateur photographers. The photos they took, and the cards they collected, provided a rich source of material for their scrapbooks. They challenged the serious conventions of photography, frequently lampooning subjects as varied as the rules and regulations of aristocratic society, theories of evolution, politics and political figures.

Playing with Pictures – Highlights of the Exhibition

When the albums were originally created they were not intended for public gaze, and many have not been publicly shown until now. This is a rare opportunity to explore the scrapbooks of personalities such as Blanche Fournier, creator of the Madame B Album, and Frances Elizabeth, Viscountess Jocelyn, creator of the Jocelyn Album.

Madame B in watercolorBlanche Fournier and the Madame B Album

Based on clues appearing throughout the scrapbook, Madame B has been identified as Marie-Blanche-Hennelle Fournier (1831-1906), known as Blanche, second wife of the French diplomat Hugues-Marie-Henri Fournier (1821–1898).

The album, which shows Blanche to be an accomplished watercolorist, contains more than 140 pages of photographs and watercolors. It provides a record of her life and travels throughout Sweden, Italy, and France. The images are often surreal and playful, such as the untitled page showing a butterfly with human faces.

Diamond Shape with Nine Studio Portraits by Viscountess Jocelyn 1860Frances Elizabeth Jocelyn and the Jocelyn Album

Another album on display was created by Frances Elizabeth Jocelyn (1820-1880), an aristocrat who took up photography in the 1950s. Frances was the step-daughter of Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (1784-1865). One of the pages in her album: Diamond Shape with Nine Studio Portraits of the Palmerston Family and a Painted Cherry Blossom Surround shows nine miniature photographic portraits of the Palmerston family, all taken by Frances at Broadlands, Lord Palmerston’s country home in Hampshire.

In 1862, Lady Jocelyn, a member of the Photographic Society of London, was awarded an “honorable mention for artistic effect in landscape photography” when she entered four photographic views of Broadlands at the International Exhibition in London. Lady Jocelyn’s photographs also appeared at the International Exhibition of 1865, held in Dublin.

Playing with Pictures – Exhibition Catalogue

The exhibition is accompanied by a 200-page catalog, by curator Elizabeth Siegel, featuring 140 color and 40 black and white illustrations. The publication examines the avant-garde nature, the themes and social meanings of photocollage, through essays by Elizabeth Siegel, Patrizia Di Bello, and Marta Weiss, together with additional contributions by Miranda Hofelt. The catalog is published by Yale University Press for The Art Institute of Chicago.

Playing with Pictures as on show at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2010, after which it will travel to the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.

Keeping the Art Gallery Pest-Free

Art galleries are notoriously famous for housing thousand-to-million dollar artworks ranging from paintings, sketches, sculptures, to mixed art. The need to protect these works is exceptionally high, and the challenge is on for the gallery’s curators.

Art gallery fumigation against termitesDealing with antiques and art may sound exciting. But many don’t realize the many hurdles that come with the job associated with handling them. There are many risks involved in managing a gallery being a director, since you have to maintain stakeholders’ donations and personal collection.

Art galleries are also under the watchful eye of many, especially when high-stake artworks are being put up for sale. Not only is this time a celebratory moment for art dealers. Also, for art stealers who make a living out of original and duplicate works. Gallery and auction securities are put on high alert during busy visiting and auctioning times.

Along with art dealers and art stealers, curators must also watch out for one more group of “stealers” that is even harder to prevent. The threat of pests is one of the most significant challenges that many galleries face. And it is also one of the reasons why galleries need to allow a substantial budget for pest control. However, no matter how much studios spend on prevention. Many times, pests are still able to seep through valuable artworks and antiques leading to their degradation. Galleries then would have to spend for their restoration; but, when it gets beyond repair, they would have to spend millions to pay the art lender, or, declare bankruptcy.

How do you prevent pests in a controlled setting like an art gallery? And how do you make sure that you are doing the right and efficient method?

Here are some tips to help prevent pests from ruining gallery arts and antiques:

1. Carefully inspect each piece of art

Before putting any artwork on display, carefully inspect each piece of art to make sure no hidden pests are finding their shelter on the artwork. There is no use rushing with the display because you might end up paying more with lost time, energy and resources, with having to put pest control treatments to the artwork again.

Clean and pest-free galleries will save you from damageAn inspection must be at least a three-tier process, meaning, at least three inspectors should approve of the artwork before being approved for display. This New York pest control company is definitely acquainted with checking for possible hiding grounds of pests.

2. Do routine weekly inspections

Pests can grow and multiply at an unprecedented rate. So you must think ahead and control them before they take control of the gallery. It may be time-consuming, but it is wise to do weekly inspections on all artworks to make sure no pests are hiding for shelter. And since inspectors can be challenging to find, you can put up a training seminar for gallery staff, so each one is qualified to check for pests on the artworks.

Artwork under maintenancePest prevention is crucial to undertake because pest control treatments end up being more expensive. Not only do procedures put a big risk on the artworks; they also put a significant cost in the gallery. It may be more costly to hire professional inspectors, but it is definitely worth the price since you know you are covered for the long haul.

An Essential Guide to New York City’s Museums

When in New York, one simply cannot miss out on visiting its museums and imbibing the rich historical and aesthetic vibe of the city. With the sheer number of options available, however, the task of creating a realistic yet worthwhile itinerary can prove to be a little more challenging than expected – especially for a first-time tourist.

And so we listed down some of our most favorite museums all around New York. You can use this as a guide to can help you determine which places to visit and what to expect from them when you embark on the Go New York Tours for a visit. We also added some tips that might be useful while exploring these museums. Shall we begin?

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

the grandiose Met buildingIf museums have blockbuster awards, there can be no doubt that The Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET, as people fondly call it – will bag that award.

With over six million visitors annually, The MET Museum is arguably one of the most famous museums in all of America, and it is easy to see why. MET features about two million pieces of art objects spanning more than five millenniums of different cultural and historical perspectives.

The highlight of the museum’s extensive collection is arguably the “Temple of Dendur”, an Ancient Egyptian temple commissioned by Emperor Augustus of Rome at around 15 B.C. The temple, gifted by the Egyptian government to the United States in 1965, is displayed in a huge, sunlit atrium surrounded by a pool of water that meant to represent its original location near the River Nile. The museum also features a number of Ancient Egyptian artifacts that you might find remarkable including several papyrus pages from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, real Egyptian tombs, a few sarcophagi decorated with hieroglyphics.

TIP: MET’s special exhibits often draw a lot of press and relatively large crowds – if you visit late (especially around the exhibition’s closing) you may find yourself stuck in line and battling hordes of people to get a decent view of the exhibits. If you’re keen on getting the best experience, consider arriving earlier in the day. You can also drop by during weekdays as opposed to weekends.

American Museum of Natural History

AMNH dinosaur exhibit leave visitors in aweIf it’s your first time in New York City, be sure head over to the biggest museum of Natural History in the world – the American Museum of Natural History. This magnificently enormous structure is made up of four city blocks and boasts of 45 permanent exhibit halls (in addition to several seasonal exhibits that are regularly featured in the museum). Inside these halls are around 32 million specimens, ranging from plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, humans, and selected cultural artifacts.

With its extensive collection, AMNH can definitely offer something to everybody. For Dinosaur lovers, AMNH offers the largest collection of dinosaur bones in the whole world. The AMNH also features the Hayden Planetarium for those who’ve had their sights set on all things galactic and planetary. Aside from hosting various exhibits, AMNH is also committed to sharing knowledge to the public by presenting lectures, IMAX screenings, and space shows.

TIP: The AMNH has a free app that is downloadable for Apple phones and tablets. Use this to navigate your way through the museum, find exhibits quickly, and participate in the museum’s special events and promos!

Museum of the Moving Image

old film cameras on exhibit at the Museum of Moving ImageFor film lovers and cineastes out there, here’s one for you! The Museum of Moving Image, located in Astoria, Queens in New York is a unique museum that is exclusively dedicated to everything film, TV, and digital entertainment. The 160,000 square feet building, enlarged and refurbished in 2011 by Leeser Architecture, houses a permanent collection made up of around 13,000 items that aim to tell the wildly incredible history of American Cinema.

The main exhibit is located on the first floor. Aptly titled, “Behind the Scenes,” the exhibit illustrates the different processes of creation and production of films, TV series, and multimedia productions through the years. The second floor, on the other hand, houses different costumes, set designs, and even tributes to the various actors and directors. The evolution of film and production equipment are housed on the third floor of the museum. One can also see the different animatronics and special effects that were used in memorable films such as “Star Wars” and “The Exorcist”.

TIP: Make sure to catch the special film and animation screenings that are regularly held in the museum’s theater hall! Admission is free for ticket holders.

Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

facade of Cooper-HewittIf you are in New York City, chances are you’d love to visit the rich, artistic history of this magnificent city. And while there are plenty of museums where you can get your art fix on, we highly recommend you visit the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum located in the Upper East Side part of New York. It is the only museum in the whole of America that is exclusively devoted to design – both historical and contemporary.

Imagine: more than 210,000 featured design objects that span more than 30 centuries of history, all gathered under one roof. The museum’s collections present an eclectic mix of ancient objects and modern design icons, some of them curated by featured artists.

TIP: If you are an aspiring designer, make sure to check Cooper-Hewitt’s collection of digital resources for students and educators. The museum also regularly holds events and talks on topics related to art and design.

In New York, there is something for everyone, and if you are a big fan of museums, you’ll be glad to know that you won’t run out of places to go to or exhibits to explore. So go on ahead – bust out your maps, pick your most sensible pair of shoes, and take a trip down the history of the world and the achievements of civilization.