Objects are fussy. They’re susceptible to humidity, light levels, vibrations, and any number of other dangers, both large (floods) and small (mice). And whether it’s a tiny tea cup or a four-ton bronze statue, each object also has its own idiosyncrasies. Wood, for example, doesn’t get along with water, and paper can’t stand light. A museum is carefully designed, in part, to control all these factors and to give objects the secure and stable home they deserve. But what happens when an object needs to travel outside the museum’s walls?
The permanent collections of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco number over 100,000 objects, and only a percentage are on view. However, many of these treasured artworks can be viewed in exhibitions at other institutions throughout the world at any given time. When art objects are loaned in this way, they often travel for long periods of time, which is why it’s so important for our conservators to carefully prepare objects for their extended journeys. Such was the case when the Cleveland Museum of Art requested to borrow an ancient turban from the Nasca culture of Peru, featured in the exhibition Wari: Lords of the Ancient Andes that opened last week.
November 7, 2012
This Halloween, we take you inside one of the Museums’ most enigmatic inhabitants: the mummy Irethorrou. While mummies have long been the antagonists of numerous horror films, they also provide us with incredible insight into the funerary practices and religious beliefs of ancient Egyptians. We dare you to read on as curator Dr. Renée Dreyfus and Egyptologist Jonathan P. Elias unwrap the Museums’ mummy.
October 31, 2012
For the past two weeks, the world watched athletes from the world over compete and triumph in the 2012 Olympic Games. Meanwhile, museums the world over competed on Twitter in the tongue-in cheek competition #MuseumOlympics, which originated right here in San Francisco. Willa Köerner, digital engagement associate at SFMOMA and today's g uest blogger, takes us behind the scenes of #MuseumOlympics and reveals the origins of what will surely become a new quadrennial tradition.
August 14, 2012
Recently one of the Museums’ most generous supporters, Dorothy Saxe, purchased a sculpture for the collection in memory of our late director John E. Buchanan. Created by contemporary glass artist Beth Lipman, Candlesticks, Books, Flowers and Fruit (2010) is a complex compilation of multiple elements balanced precariously on a table. My role as an objects conservator is to ensure that all the elements of this fragile sculpture are installed safely and in keeping with the artist’s original intent.
May 18, 2012
Next week the city of San Francisco will be flooded with art dealers and collectors, all clamoring to see the newest and brightest at the second annual artMRKT contemporary and modern art fair. The event’s opening festivities kick off this Thursday, May 17 and feature a preview reception benefiting the de Young and the Legion of Honor museums.
We recently sat down with artMRKT co-founder Max Fishko, a third-generation gallerist from New York City, to get his take on the contemporary art scene at large and in San Francisco.
May 12, 2012
What do Jean Paul Gaultier, Lady Gaga, Don Draper and Frida Kahlo all have in common? They're all themes featured in Season Eight of Friday Nights at the de Young. After a four-month hiatus, the de Young opens Season Eight tonight, Friday, March 30, with a bigger than ever community party celebrating The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From Sidewalk to Catwalk .
March 30, 2012
The designs of Jean Paul Gaultier often straddle the seemingly divergent worlds of haute couture and street fashion. To illustrate the profound influence of the street’s wild style on Gaultier’s designs, the museum commissioned San Francisco based artist Rio Yañez to create a 65-foot long graffiti mural, which will serve as the backdrop for the Punk Cancan section of the exhibition.
March 9, 2012
Last week marked the close of Friday Nights at the de Young's season seven. We sat down with public programs director Renee Baldocchi to reflect on the past successes of Friday Nights at the de Young and to learn about what’s in store for the future, including upcoming programming for The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk.
December 2, 2011
In 2009, senior registrar Stephen Lockwood came across a series of ledger books while examining the de Young’s offsite storage facility. These antique books contained detailed records of the weather and daily attendance at the de Young since its opening day in 1895. One entry was particularly interesting: