The Smithsonian Institution has received a unique donation – an intact slave cabin from a plantation in South Carolina. The cabin, which was on the grounds of the Point of Pines Plantation on Edisto Island, was donated by the current landowners.
For the past month a Smithsonian team has been meticulously dismantling it and removing it to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The reconstructed cabin will be the centerpiece of the “Slavery and Freedom” exhibition when the museum opens on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in 2015.
While it will certainly make an interesting display and attract lots of attention, it’s a shame that it wasn’t left where it was. Historic homes and artifacts have a more immediate impact on the visitor when they’re left in the original location. The move has taken away the cabin’s context. It’s no longer in the area where the slaves worked, lived and died. Instead of experiencing the landscape – the heat, the insects, the thick undergrowth the slaves would have known – we’ll now see it in a modern museum thronging with tourists.
Perhaps it was impossible for the cabin to remain where it was. Perhaps the Smithsonian had to move it to save it, but we’ve still lost something.
Yoko Ono turned 80 earlier this year and to celebrate, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark, has opened a retrospective covering more than half a century of her work.
“Yoko Ono Half-A-Wind” looks back at Yoko Ono’s influence on avant garde art and how her personal expression has changed over the decades, using various media such as installation pieces, poetry, music and film.
Much of her work is interactive. One of her most famous installation pieces, “En Trance,” is included in the exhibition. This architectural construction can be entered six different ways depending on the viewer, allowing for various experiences. There’s also a new installation, “Moving Mountains,” in which visitors are encouraged to create mobile sculptures from cloth bags.
This isn’t the only new work Yoko Ono has created for this exhibition. A series of billboards have been set up around Copenhagen with words such as “DREAM,” “TOUCH,” “IMAGINE” and “BREATHE” to encourage commuters to take time out of their busy urban schedules. She’s also distributed free postcards bearing her art in Copenhagen’s cinemas, restaurants and cafes.
“Yoko Ono Half-A-Wind” runs until September 29.
The Museum of the Moving Image in New York City has announced it will build a special gallery devoted to the art of Jim Henson.
Jim Henson’s family has donated nearly 400 puppets, costumes, props, and other objects to the museum. They include items from all of his major projects such as “The Muppet Show,” “Sesame Street,” “Fraggle Rock,” “The Dark Crystal” and others. The biggest stars included in the collection are Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Elmo, Ernie, Bert, Count von Count, Gobo Fraggle, the Swedish Chef, and Statler and Waldorf.
The 2,200 square-foot exhibition space will also feature storyboards, scripts, and video clips.
The new gallery will open in the winter of 2014-15. It will cost $5 million to build and has already received $2.75 million for the City of New York.
The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace, London, is putting on a fashion show, although the fashions are more than 400 years out of date.
“In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion” examines the luxurious clothing and jewelry worn by British monarchs and members of their court. It focuses on the two dynasties of the 16th and 17th centuries with everything from ornamental armor for a teenaged Prince of Wales to a bejeweled case for storing the black fabric patches that Queen Mary II stuck on her face to emphasize the whiteness of her skin.
Many of the items are on display for the first time, such as a diamond signet ring given by King Charles I to his wife, Queen Henrietta Maria, in 1628. It bears her cypher and the royal coat of arms. Another never-before-seen piece is a pendant of gold, rubies and diamond with a miniature portrait of Queen Elizabeth I. There are also some elegant articles of clothing like a pair of lacework gloves.
Of course, most costumes and jewelry from this period have disappeared, no matter how important their owners. To augment the exhibition there are more than 60 portraits showing royalty and nobility wearing their finest, including a startling portrait of a Duchess dressed as a man.
“In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion” runs until October 6. If you make it to London before July 14, you might also want to see “Treasures of the Royal Courts: Tudors, Stuarts and the Russian Tsars” at the Victoria & Albert.
A magnificent art gallery constructed by Frederick the Great of Prussia in Potsdam is celebrating its 250th anniversary this year, Art Daily reports.
The gallery at Sanssouci Park, part of Frederick the Great’s palace complex, was home to his vast collection of Classical and (then) contemporary art. While it lost much of its collection over the years, especially during the Napoleonic Wars and WWII, it’s still an impressive center for fine art.
To celebrate the anniversary, the gallery is hosting “The Most Beautyful Gallery – Revisiting the Picture Gallery of Frederick the Great,” and has brought together much of the original collection that got dispersed across Europe. Paintings from various periods fill the walls, including examples from the Italian Renaissance and High Baroque as well as 17th century Flemish and Dutch works. The gallery also shows Frederick’s passion for Classical sculpture. Even the walls are made of marble torn from ancient buildings.
Potsdam is only 23 miles from Berlin and makes a good day trip from the German capital.
“The Most Beautyful Gallery – Revisiting the Picture Gallery of Frederick the Great” runs until October 31.
[Photo courtesy Kent Wang]