Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Research: Worcester Art Museum "Then and Now" by Travis Simpkins. Update #50

     -In the first photo, from about 1960, it is apparent that the large recessed arch between the third and fourth floors was designed with a specific intent… that being to display a mural replica of one of the famous Byzantine "Hagia Sophia" mosaics. On the sides of the staircase are two elevators: a small passenger elevator on the left, and a large freight elevator on the right. Wide doorways allow for a open flow of exhibition space from east to west across the landing. Today, the "Hagia Sophia" mural is still there, but is walled-up behind the blank archway. The old passenger elevator was retired (with utility closets on each level now), and the old freight elevator was renovated to suit dual purposes.
     -Up until the late 1990's, for roughly 100 years, the west gallery on the second floor was used as an auditorium space. The photo at left, from 1980, shows the last set-up the room had. It looked like this, wood-paneled with theater seating, for nearly three decades. I have seen old posters advertising an Alfred Hitchcock Film Festival, lectures and performances that took place in this auditorium. It held a diverse array of events. The projection room (openings seen on the back wall) is still there, but is decommissioned. The space was renovated as part of the WAM Centennial project, and serves as the Contemporary Gallery today.
     -I estimate that this photo, from about 1940, was taken in late March or early April. Situated at the intersection of Salisbury and Tuckerman Streets, a circular driveway sweeps the Museum façade and once-reliable trolley tracks are visible in the foreground. The newly-constructed fourth floor can be seen at rear, looming above both the original 1897 edifice as well as the 1933 Renaissance Court building. In the same spot today, it is apparent that some of the curb real estate in front of WAM was lost to the widening of Salisbury Street. It is also clear how thoroughly the 1983 Hiatt Wing now envelopes that side of the building, obscuring all of the early elements as well as hiding the fourth floor addition from view.
     -The last photo, from 1910, shows how grand the third floor galleries of the Worcester Art Museum appeared a century ago. The skylights were removed and the ceiling was lowered significantly when the 4th floor was added on top of the building in 1940. Today, this spot finds the viewer inside the American Decorative Arts gallery. The only recognizable elements are the original floor and the opening to the main stairwell at right.

     -The sketches depict M. Louise McLaughlin's 1903 vase and "Old Man Contemplating", circa 1500.

     -The admission screen in the Lancaster Lobby includes the sketches of "Caligula" I made in 2013.

4th Floor. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

2nd Floor. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

Exterior. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

3rd Floor. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

Vase. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

Old Man Contemplating. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

Caligula. Lancaster Lobby. by travis Simpkins