Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Research: Worcester Art Museum "Then and Now" by Travis Simpkins. Update #5

     As the Worcester Art Museum collection grew during the first decades of the 1900's, the abundance of artworks necessitated the construction of new gallery spaces. The first two additions to the original building, in 1920 and 1933, reflected a common trend towards smaller, more intimate rooms to showcase the diverse holdings.
      -The first photo, from 1920, was taken the year the first addition was built and shows the entrance to the Lower Third Floor galleries (then considered to be the Upper 2nd floor) from the staircase landing. Neat and tight rows of paintings fill the wall spaces with a steady, balanced pattern. Subsequent photos in future updates will show the diverse variety of eras from which the paintings originate... interesting groups ranging from late 14th Century Renaissance works to early 20th Century plein-air paintings. I tried to ascertain what the original wall color was, but could only find a reference calling it a "light color". Oh well... The same view today, now seen through glass doors, maintains much of the original architectural integrity after 94 years. The openings to the sides of the center doorway had been walled-up until fairly recently, though, creating a semi-claustrophobic entryway. Their re-opening restored some visual flow between the rooms.
     -The second photo, shows European Gallery 207 looking into Gallery 209, before and after the east section's most recent renovation. In the 2008 photo, overhead fluorescent lighting almost gives the appearance of daylight. Today, the rooms have increased scale with larger paintings and the nice addition of door caps (which had been included in the original architectural drawings from the 1930's, but for some reason, had never been put in place). It's amazing how slight changes and simple elements can transform a space.

     -The sketch depicts one of my favorite parts of the annual "Flora in Winter" event. Each year, for several quick days, the beautiful and dramatic 18th Century Venetian marble bust of "Flora" is brought out of storage and put on display, set to preside over the Renaissance Court.

Third Floor Galleries. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

European Galleries. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

Flora, 18th Century. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins