Online Collection

2012 in Review

By: Bridgette Beard Klein, Communications Assistant

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This image is from one of the most popular posts from our blog this year (and ever). Here the Inverted Q is shown through the Chromatic Vision Simulator’s Protanope filter. To view the Q’s typical appearance, visit the Akron Art Museum’s Online Collection.

2012 has been an exhilarating year for the Akron Art Museum. We continued to launch our new visual look, celebrated 90 years in the community, exhibited monumental art and made major leadership changes.

We really kicked off the year with our 90th anniversary celebration in February. The performance included abstract painter Al Bright in concert with the Jesse Dandy Band. In March, Ray Turner: Population opened featuring an ever-expanding series of portraits, including key Akronites from the University Park neighborhood and even some Akron Art Museum staff.

April and May saw the staff preparing for the sale of Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #96 at Christie’s Post War and Contemporary Art – Evening Sale on May 8, 2012. The money raised from the sale created a new acquisitions endowment. We retained another 1981 masterpiece by Cindy Sherman from the Centerfolds series, Untitled #93 (Black Sheets), subsequently named Sherman the 2011-2012 Knight Purchase Award recipient and purchased several works from her Bus Riders series.

Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui opened in June with the artist present in Akron! The Akron Art Museum was the first modern and contemporary art museum in the US to collect Anatsui’s work and is thrilled to organize the major traveling exhibition. Huffington Post recently called its presentation at the Brooklyn Museum one of “The 25 Most Anticipated Exhibitions of the New Year.” You can catch the exhibition on its national tour through 2014.

The summer sizzled with the always popular Downtown@Dusk concert series and the new to 2012 ArtCamp@Dusk for kids to enjoy while their parents listen and embarrassingly dance to music. In July, we launched our completely redesigned website and enacted two major admission changes. Children 17 years and younger are now admitted FREE to the museum’s galleries. Beginning in July, visitors receive FREE admission to the collection and exhibition galleries all day from 11 am – 9 pm, on the third Thursday of every month.

After 26 years as director, with one of the longest tenures of any art museum leader in the country, Dr. Mitchell D. Kahan announced to the Akron Art Museum’s Board of Trustees that his resignation, effective January 2, 2013, and assume the title of Director Emeritus. Janice Driesbach joined the staff in August after a yearlong national search, as the museum’s new Chief Curator and was named Interim Director in December.

The colder weather hasn’t slowed down this mammoth year. Sculpture exhibitions Adolph Gottlieb: Sculptor  and New Artifacts: Works by Brent Kee Young and Sungsoo Kim opened in late October.  In November, tribute was paid to Dr. Mitchell D. Kahan during a formal dinner on November 10 and a community day on November 11. Holiday mART expanded its hours to reach more people this year and the popular Island of Misfit Toys once again sold out.

You might think all of this is enough for one year, but think again. Just as many people were planning their final holiday shopping or how to best spend the time off with family, the Akron Art Museum announced a pledge from museum supporters Rick and Alita Rogers as the lead gift for the design and construction of its long awaited outdoor sculpture garden. The completed outdoor gallery and multi-use space will bear the name of Bruce and Susanne Rogers, Rick’s parents, who are among Akron’s most devoted community boosters.

From September to December, we added 131 new objects, many of which were donated in honor of Mitchell.  The museum’s commitment to photography holds strong and over half of the works in the collection are photographs. You can check out the museum’s collection at www.AkronArtMuseum.org/collection.

As for the blog, some of the most popular posts have been The Q is Blue!, Staff Interview: Special Events Manager Sheri Stallsmith and Photographic Masks from the Collection.  We have some posts planned for the next couple of months that we can’t wait to share with you.

Don’t think the Akron Art Museum will rest on its laurel in 2013. As the search for a new director continues, the museum will open some amazing exhibitions and put on some great events.

 The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats pays tribute to award-winning author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats (1916–1983), the first to feature an African-American protagonist in modern full-color picture books and will open on March 16, 2013. The exhibition Draw Me a Story (February 9 – August 4, 2013) will celebrate Keats’s legacy and the power of visual literacy and multiculturalism. Elementary students from area schools will created collaborative picture books. The student artists will also meet and work with award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh, who will be here in the spring.

Drawn entirely from the museum’s collection, Danny Lyon: Bikeriders highlights one of the artist’s most celebrated bodies of works. Now, nearly 50 years after their creation, the images retain their original power and raw energy. Line Color Illusion: 40 Years of Julian Stanczak showcases paintings and prints collected by the Akron Art Museum since 1970. The exhibition documents both Julian Stanczak’s impressive career as a master of color and the museum’s longstanding commitment to his work.

Art and Ale returns this year on March 8 and the galleries will even be open for the first hour! Get your tickets now to take advantage of special pricing. Meanwhile, kids and teens will be delighted with our studio class offerings, but don’t wait to sign up because these classes are in demand.

As always, check out the website, Facebook, Twitter and this blog for the most up-to-date Akron Art Museum information.

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The Q Is Blue!

By Corey Jenkins, Communications Intern

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Here the Inverted Q is shown through the Chromatic Vision Simulator’s Protanope filter. To view the Q’s typical appearance, visit the Akron Art Museum’s Online Collection.

One of the first things visitors to the museum see is Claes Oldenburg’s bright pink sculpture Inverted Q. However if you are Vincent van Gogh, who one vision expert believes suffered from “protanopia,” the Q would appear to be blue.

The Chromatic Vision Simulator app for iOS/Android was developed by Japanese vision expert, Kazunori Asad. After viewing some of Van Gogh’s pieces in an exhibition where the lighting and environment was designed to display pieces the way a colorblind person sees them, he noticed that Van Gogh’s work artwork hinted at “protanopia,” the absence or malfunction of the cells in the retina which recognize the color red.

Typically, people have three types of Cone cells in the retina. Each type is responsible for sensing red, green or blue light. Color blindness is caused by an absence or malfunction of one of these cone types. The Chromatic Vision Simulator gives an approximation of “protanopia”  the lack of a red cone; “deuteranopia,” the lack of a green cone; and “tritanopia,” the lack of a blue cone.

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Here Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #1240 is shown in it’s common state, along with all three simulations. Clockwise from top left is Common, Protanope, Deuteranope and Tritanope.

Behind the Scenes: Photography

By Keith Freund, Collections Information Coordinator

Most of the photography we do to document our collection at the Akron Art Museum is accomplished in a studio setting with the highest-quality equipment. We hire a photographer and set up a professional studio in our storage areas and galleries to capture our prints, paintings, and sculptures looking their best so that we can share them online, or use them for print material. But we’ve also found it helpful to document the objects as they move, are shown in exhibitions, or are conserved. These photos have not only proven helpful for our preparators, curatorial staff and scholars, but we’ve also recently found that the public enjoys seeing their favorite pieces in a different context (Alexander Lieberman’s Contact III for example).

Installation of ‘Seer (Alice I)’ by Kiki Smith at the Akron Art Museum

The Akron Art Museum recently acquired Seer (Alice I), a fantastic new sculpture by Kiki Smith, and completely redesigned one of our galleries to showcase this work. We documented the installation of the piece, especially since it is quite large and heavy and the odd proportions required special consideration. This way, our preparators can reference these photos for future moves and our Collections Manager can consider them for preservation issues.

More photos and information about Kiki Smith’s sculpture is available on our Knight Foundation-funded Online Collection at http://www.akronartmuseum.org/collection

Akron Art Museum collection anytime, anywhere

Akron Art Museum Online Collection ScreenshotThe Akron Art Museum Online Collection is now available to explore.    Thanks to generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, we have completed initial design and implementation of our website and launched with approximately 500 objects from the museum’s collection.    Since launching last month, the site has already undergone several updates to make more objects available to our virtual visitors, and will continually expand over the next year until our entire 5,000 object collection is represented .

Our Online Collection already contains many objects beyond those on view in our physical galleries and delves deep into the archives to highlight pieces even a faithful visitor might not have seen before.    People can access extensive educational material, short essays for major works, exhibition histories, provenances, and biographies of artists.   Years of documentation and research have gone into the online content, while work over the past year has paid off in an intuitive and interesting catalog design.

Making the collection available online allows the Akron Art Museum to fulfill our mission of enriching lives through modern art and reach a broader audience to communicate the significance of our holdings. We’re very excited about our new Online Collection website, and can’t wait to continue sharing more wonderful objects from our archives with the world.

Explore and share our collection now at http://www.akronartmuseum.org/collection