Sunday, September 14, 2014

Research: Worcester Art Museum "Then and Now" by Travis Simpkins. Update #6

     - The first photo, from 1900, shows the old Trustee's meeting area and casts a backward glance of 114 years. The Worcester Art Museum had only been open two years at that point. The sturdy table and chairs, at center of the meeting room, have endured a century of activity and are still in use today on the upper level of the Library. The light fixtures, and age of the photo, suggest the space had a hybrid gas-and-electric lighting capability (an interesting subject, reflecting antique building technology in a brief period of hesitant transition (1890 - 1905), that I may feel inclined to write about in a future post). Today, as part of the lower level of the Library, the room retains little resemblance to it's original appearance and has a strictly utilitarian office aesthetic. The only visual signs that assure me the two photos depict the same place, are the shape and dimensions of the room, and the placement of certain windows and door openings. This space will see drastic change once again, however, in the forthcoming years... as this area is slated to become part of the new home for the Higgins Armory collection.
     -The second photo, from 1984, shows the lush and freshly-built 4th floor Atrium. Although the fourth level had been added-on in 1940, this skylit area was not part of the original floor plan. The Atrium was conceived, with a few other opportune renovations, as a supplemental part of the Hiatt Wing construction project in 1983. Beyond changes in seating and plant life, the area remains the same 30 years later.

     -The watercolor (sketch) is a quick study I made of John Singer Sargent's 1917 painting "Muddy Alligators", which the Worcester Art Museum purchased from Sargent the same year it was painted.

Lower Library. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

4th Floor Atrium. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

J.S. Sargent's Muddy Alligators. WAM. by Travis Simpkins

     In a previous post, I mentioned the stylish brown-leather Barcelona chairs that can be seen in numerous old gallery photos. After years of collecting dust in the basement, the chairs have found good homes outside of WAM. Similar examples of seating, darker in color, can still be found scattered throughout the various Museum office areas, but their legs don't have the same classic lines as the ones shown here:
Barcelona Chairs, Worcester Art Museum