Before I joined the Fine Arts Museums seven years ago as an editor, I did not know such a job existed in the museum world. It is not a role that merits much attention—in fact, the more invisible the editor’s hand, the better. But if you look around at the museums, you will understand how important an editor is. From humble signage directing your way to hefty exhibition catalogues, a huge range of text in a variety of forms is issued by the Museums, all reviewed by a team of three editors in the publications department.
Legion of Honor
For the first time ever, three prized tapestries from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s permanent collection will be exhibited together in the Legion of Honor’s Gallery 1. The entire series, known as The Triumph of the Seven Virtues, consists of seven tapestries that depict allegorical representations of the theological virtues—Faith, Hope, and Charity—and the cardinal virtues—Temperance, Prudence, Justice, and Fortitude. While 10 museums in Europe, the United States, and Russia possess tapestries from this series, the Fine Arts Museums have The Triumph of Fortitude, The Triumph of Prudence, and the only extant example of The Triumph of Justice.
3D scanning and printing have made their mark on popular culture in the past couple of years with eye-catching headlines like “Researchers Closing in on Printing 3D Hearts” and “Tools of Modern Gunmaking.” Many museums have also started using 3D printing to foster greater engagement and creativity between their visitors and collections. As a cultural institution, one of the main challenges when experimenting with new technologies is to understand and evaluate how it can be used to benefit or bolster our collection and mission, and try to get beyond the initial “whoa—that’s cool!” factor.
In 2004 artist Matthew Picton laid a sheet of plastic over the cracks in the asphalt of a playground. He traced the cracks and painted them with black enamel paint. Then he carefully cut and burned away the plastic surrounding the cracks. What was left was a giant spidery web.
Spring in San Francisco brings with it a season of art fairs, including artMRKT whose opening night preview reception this Thursday, May 16 benefits the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s newly created New Acquisitions Fund. Featuring 70 galleries from around the globe, artMRKT provides a unique opportunity for museum professionals and art enthusiasts to gather, discuss, and view the world’s premier contemporary and modern art. This year, artMRKT includes a series of special lectures presented by several of our own curators, including Emma Acker, assistant curator of American art. We sat down with Ms. Acker to discuss the relationship between art fairs and museums, such as the de Young and the Legion of Honor.
One of the most exciting aspects of working in paper conservation at the Legion of Honor is the variety of objects encountered on a daily basis. When working on a 17th-century print, for example, conservation intern Laura Neufeld faced many traditional paper conservation challenges. Pier Gustafson’s Father’s Suitcase, on the other hand, is a one-of-a kind artwork that required unique treatment solutions.
As an extensive national search to find a new director draws to a close, we look forward to making a public announcement soon. As we prepare to embark on the next chapter of our long history it’s a good time to reflect on the amazing success we’ve experienced over the past several years.
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF)—which comprises the de Young and the Legion of Honor—is one of the most successful organizations of its kind in the world. We operate under the highest standards of governance. It is because of our high standards that we are a flourishing art institution that continues to exceed expectations both financially and artistically.
Our organization is among the largest and most respected art institutions in the country. Due to the efforts of our talented staff and dedicated Board of Trustees, we have been able to bring to San Francisco some extraordinary exhibitions such as:
- Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs
- Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay
- Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and Beyond: Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay
- Girl with the Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis
- And, coming in 2013, David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition