A belated sciencey post…

iwd

It’s taken a while to put up but here is a link to a write-up of the event held at the Yorkshire Museum for International Women’s Day 2014, on the 8th March. A group of female scientists from the ScienceGrrl organisation took up residence in the museum for the day, both in the central hall and the galleries, speaking to visitors about their day jobs and demonstrating some hands-on science.

The day was a great success – have a look at Gemma’s blog, who organised the day. Thanks to all involved – and I hope some budding scientists were inspired by the enthusiastic people there! ScienceGrrl exists to show that anyone can get into science – it doesn’t matter what gender you are, no one should feel held back.

I hope the museum can inspire people every day of course – but having some scientists on hand makes all the difference!

by
No Comments

York Art Gallery – A Brief Look Back

As York Art Gallery enters its second year closed due to its major redevelopment, it may be interesting to look back to the last time the gallery was closed for a considerable period of time to also reopen after a major facelift: during and after World War II.

Space can only permit a mere glimpse at the gallery during the war and its reopening, though I am sure a more generous look would be of interest. The information largely comes from the York Corporation’s official printed minutes and they certainly offer a very rich source of information on York Art Gallery.

The Corporation minutes state that on 1 September 1939, the day Germany invaded Poland, the ‘military authorities commandeered the Exhibition building’ and thus the gallery remained closed until it was partly reopened on 15 January 1948.

The ‘military authorities’ seem to have only used the buildings as and when they needed as the minutes of 7 May 1941 say that the military authorities ‘formally gave up possession of the main hall’, but by September the Art Gallery Committee are recommending that the Council accept an offer by the military to rent the buildings.

In May 1942 the military again partly moved out and in June it was noted that the Housing Committee were using these areas in connection with ‘war damage repairs’, whilst other areas were being rented by a furniture company for storage.

One interesting nugget from the war years comes from the minutes of June 1943, a recommendation from the Art Gallery Committee that the gallery be renamed the ‘YorkshireArtGallery’ – possibly to align itself to the nearby YorkshireMuseum? This recommendation was indeed adopted by the Council, but it seems that this decision was then simply forgotten.

By September 1944 it was agreed that the military would leave the buildings no more than 6 months from the end of the war, and indeed by October 1945 it was noted that they would be gone by the end of the year, and that paintings stored elsewhere (including a ‘Hall, outside York’) be returned to the gallery when room is available, and that plans to make the gallery weather proof, to decorate, and add heating and lighting to the gallery were underway.

Plans to reopen the gallery after 5 years are clearly being undertaken.

A major part of this process, and a catalyst for much that was to follow, was the appointment of a new curator.

Albert Finney was appointed temporary curator of the art gallery and Castle Museum in April 1943 (in effect having three jobs as he was also the City Librarian), and he retired in March 1947 when it was recommended that a full time curator of ‘the art collection and gallery be appointed’ and one whose duties were separate from the Castle Museum.

By July the committee were happy to recommend that ‘Mr Hans Hess of Leicester’ be appointed, and by September it was noted that the committee were considering a report by Hess on ‘the reconstruction and development of the gallery and recommend that suggestions contained therein be carried out and that application be made to the appropriate Government Dept. for sanction to borrow £5,000, the estimate cost of the recommendations so far as they concern structural works’.

In November it was agreed that the gallery be partly reopened in January 1948, which indeed it did, but this was in fact only the entrance hall, ‘sufficient to arrange small exhibitions and just enough to let the public know that the York Art Gallery has come to life again’ as the Art Gallery Committee Chairman JB Morrell stated in the first issue of Preview, a newsletter on the gallery published by the Corporation. The first exhibition focused on the paintings of William Etty.

The Yorkshire Gazette reported the reopening, noting Hess as saying that the role of a municipal art gallery was two-fold, ‘to present the art of the city to the world’ and to ‘bring the art of the world to York’, quoting Hess as saying that ‘it should not be necessary to go to Rome, Venice and Paris to see what has been painted in the past; it should be accessible here’.

What fine words, and ones that were vindicated through Hess’ direction and collection policy, culminating in the Lycett-Green bequest in 1955.

Hess went on to say that the gallery would be a lively place with lectures, concerts and other social activities, Morrell adding that Hess’ aim was to make the gallery as ‘outstanding among galleries as the Castle Museum was among museums’. By 1951 the whole of the gallery as we have until recently known it was open to the public, and Hess’ aims seem to have been realised as recorded in Preview.

One of Hess’ ideas was of course the instigation of a York Art Collection Society, and indeed this institution was in place by the time of the gallery’s reopening, and had 170 members by the end that year.

The first report of the renamed Friends of York Art Gallery, published in 1956, details their activities and the purchases made by them for the collection. By this time no less a renowned figure as Herbert Read was the President of the Friends, and he noted in his preface to the report that York Art Gallery had by 1956 become ‘one of the most rapidly expanding and most lively institutions of its kind in the country’.

Jonathan Peters completed a MA dissertation on the history of York Art Gallery in 2003.

by
No Comments

The unusual suspects…..

A volcanologist, watercolourist, botanist and forger….walk into a bar? No, in this case the unlikeliness of our characters was not the set up for a bad joke.

In fact, we had an even larger cast of York’s luminaries as the focus for our Wikipedia edit-a-thon at the Hospitium on March 16th. This public event was the culmination of Pat Hadley’s role as Wikipedian-in-Residence; a sixth-month residency helping the trust to share it’s collections through the online encyclopedia.

Tempest Anderson

Tempest Anderson   

Vulcanologist

Mary Ellen best

Mary Ellen Best

Artist

 

Flint Jack

Edward Simpson (Flint Jack)

Forger

16 keen participants and eight members of YMT staff gathered on a surprisingly spring-like Sunday with the aim of improving content on Wikipedia – the world’s sixth-most popular website – using content from the collections and archives of the Trust. The event attracted keen York historians, experienced Wikipedians and those new to both. Curators had prepared lots of resources, participants brought their laptops and we had plenty of tea and biscuits to fuel us through the day. Groups spontaneously gathered around articles they wanted to tackle and could get help with resources or the technicalities of editing.

The day was themed around the lives and work of York’s Luminaries who lived between 1800-1950. We were fairly broad with our definition though and wanted to encourage people to document some of York’s lesser-known figures. These included:

Editathon 3

 

  • Editathon 2 

 

Editatho 1

Mary Ellen Best – A key female Victorian artist. Best painted domestic interiors, in contrast to many of her contemporaries.

Best has a number of works in the YorkArtGallery but had no biography on Wikipedia until the edit-a-thon. A few days later, her article featured in a Did you know? on the front page of Wikipedia, creating 3500 views!

  • Walter Harvey-Brook – Was the YorkshireMuseum’s honorary curator of Medieval Archaeology and designed much of the MuseumGardens.

Brook’s paintings, sketches and archaeological notes are key parts of the collections. His article was created during the edit-a-thon.

Anderson’s images have been uploaded by the museum for use on Wikipedia. Some of his best are now available to use. His biography was significantly updated.

  • Edward Simpson – less of a ‘luminary’ Simpson was an itinerant archaeological forger known as ‘Flint Jack’.His biography was substantially improved during the edit-a-thon

 

Click through for a full report of the days edits

It was great to have curators on hand to help with references and context for these topics. After lunch, they also treated us to talks and handling sessions with some fascinating artefacts and information. Though we got a huge amount done, these made it clear how much more fantastic stuff there was in the collections and archives at YMT. There’s plenty of scope for going much further!

Everybody had a great day and we’re really hoping that we can get together again soon to make even more improvements and that more people have the confidence to continue editing in their own time. Maybe we could have another theme next time? We’d love to have more people along – so perhaps your ideas will help share the next set of unusual suspects across the world!

 

by
No Comments

York Art Gallery Project Update-Onwards and Upwards!

After so many dark miserable days it was so nice to go up onto the scaffolding in the sunshine today and get a really close look at the south side of the gallery. Many of you will have seen the canopy of scaffolding and screening that is creeping over the roof of the gallery looking a lot like the pyramid stage at Glastonbury! This canopy is to protect the gallery spaces underneath as the roof is being stripped ready for the steel work to be installed for the new upper south gallery extension including ceiling and glass works to the mezzanine gallery (secret gallery). The pitched roof to the south gallery is almost removed and the ornate victorian trusses have been carefully removed. The trusses come apart in three parts below is the central part which holds the truss arms together.

The Central axis of a truss

The Central axis of a truss

The South gallery pitched roof removed

The South gallery pitched roof removed

The mezzanine gallery (secret gallery) is really taking shape the steelwork has been installed and the steel decking has been laid. It won’t be long before the concrete floor is pumped in and once set  a scaffold birdcage will then be erected to allow the workmen access to the ceiling to make good the plasterwork and replace the glazing.

The mezzanine steel decked floor

The mezzanine steel decked floor

The mezzanine floor from reception

The mezzanine floor from reception

Hard hat day for the Art Gallery Welcome Team!

We had a lovely afternoon spent on site with the guides last week showing them the new gallery spaces. Everyone was bowled over by the spaces and could really see the galleries taking shape. It really brought home how nearly 3 years of working very hard towards our new fantastic gallery will all be worth it in the end.

A hard hat day for the Art gallery welcome Team very excited about our gallery!

A hard hat day for the Art gallery welcome Team very excited about our gallery!

 

 

by
No Comments

Ask the Expert: Andy Robertshaw, Military Historian

Andy Robertshaw, Military Historian

Andy Robertshaw, Military Historian, will be answering your questions on World War One on Monday 14 April 2014 between  2-3pm BST.

Andy Robertshaw

You can post questions before the Q & A session, on 14 April, or you can converse in real time with our expert. You can use the comment box below to post a question, or you can use twitter with the hashtag  #mdyask.

Comments have to be moderated, to protect the blog from spam, so if your comment doesn’t appear straight away, don’t worry. We’ll get to it as quickly as we can.

If you have a problem submitting questions, either in the comment box, or via twitter, please email your questions to gillian.waters@ymt.org.uk

If you have ideas for subjects you’d like to see us cover in future, or would like to take questions yourself, please get in contact with us and let us know.

by
13 Comments

Another Hard Hat Day!

 

IMG_0683IMG_0684
Today has been a great day on site. The gallery is really moving along and it’s suprising how quickly things are taking shape. Today’s site walk was a facinating trip up onto the scaffold to have a look at the portico and front gallery facade stonework, up close and personal! Some of the stone is in pretty poor condition with lots of spoiling and salt marks, there’s also a need to repoint and generally tidy up the stonework with a soft wash which is all being carefully done. Getting so close to the stonework revealed that the sculpted roundels between the arches of the entrance portico were once very decorative. As you can see from the image above the laurel wreath that surrounds each roundal (this one depiting John Cambidge the musician) were in fact painted with gold or possibly copper paint. Very grand indeed! The four roundals depict famous artistic sons of York, from left to right John Carr the architect, John cambidge the musician, John Flaxman the sculptor and of course William Etty the painter.

 

by
No Comments

The Sweet History of HR

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) are the professional body for HR and people development, and an organisation I deal with almost daily in my role as HR Assistant at York Museum Trust.

What you may not know is that the values of the CIPD are based on the work of Seebohm Rowntree, son of Joseph Rowntree, who had improved working conditions in the York-based Rowntree confectionary company. You can read more about the history on the CIPD website.

My own Dad spent 48 years working in confectionary in York, so it seems quite appropriate that I’m now a member of an organisation that has its roots with the famous British confectioner!

Discover more about York’s social history at York Castle Museum.

by
No Comments

Ask the Expert: Antonia Lovelace, Curator of World Cultures at Leeds Museums and Galleries

It’s really busy at the moment here in Leeds for me as we make the final preparations for the new Voices of Asia gallery at Leeds City Museum. When we first opened the museum to the public in 2008 the World View gallery focused on Africa, with the title ‘Out of Africa’, showcasing our amazing African sculptures, masks, textiles and musical instruments. Now we are changing to ‘Voices of Asia’, which will be as much about Asia in Leeds as about Asia itself.

Myanmar chest

Myanmar chest

There are over 6,000 Asian items in the Leeds collections, which is the result of Leeds people travelling and working in Asia from the late 18th century onwards, as well as a more general appreciation of Asian art that led collectors to buy Asian art here in the UK. It’s been hard to choose from such a broad range, but some items are obvious star pieces, such as our earliest stone sculpture, a Gandhara Buddha from 3rd century AD, or the gilded chest from Myanmar, which is late 19th century.  We also want to signpost our most generous benefactors, for example the Frank Savery bequest, which gave Leeds its biggest Chinese ceramics collections.

Savery Song dynasty tea bowl

Savery Song dynasty tea bowl

 

Savery had a career in the Foreign Service, and spent much of his working life in the British Embassy in Prague, coming back to work in London during World War II. Most of Savery’s 300 plus Chinese ceramics were purchased in London, and he made the bequest to Temple Newsam because they had let him show some of his pieces there a while before his death in 1966. Last year an intern, Rane Pike, did a case display on Frank Savery for the Collector’s Gallery. In Voices of Asia Chinese ceramics will be just one of several types of luxury goods profiled in the Trade and War section, together with jade, tea, and ivory. One Savery piece, a Song dynasty tea bowl, will be on show, partly as a pointer to the other displays in the Collector’s Gallery and to the ‘China Pantry’ at Lotherton Hall. The ‘China Pantry’ is now just a small part of the space that was an Oriental Gallery for 30 years,  until late 2012, when it changed to focus more on the history of Lotherton Hall, both family and community history.

India Ivory Howdah

India Ivory Howdah

When we began working on Voices of Asia I did not know that the Oriental Gallery would go, but the timing was good, as it has made us look at all of the Asian collections properly. Over the last two years we also built up an Advisory Network of Leeds Asian community and University contacts to help with choosing the topics, and plan the programme for the new City Museum gallery. We have added to our contemporary collections and aim to include some significant loans over the planned five year life of the gallery. We have also been working with a film company, Digifish, to make an initial four films: Hinduism in Leeds,  Gods’ Dancing (symbolic gestures in Indian classical dance), Learn Bhangra, and Gold. All the films have been made with key local expert cooperation and input. In the first year our Faith in Focus section will be on Hinduism, in 2015 Islam, in 2016 Sikhism, in 2017 Buddhism.

Gandhara Buddha

Gandhara Buddha

Now that Leeds Asian culture is highly visible in the city, in terms of restaurants and food choices,  fashion and jewellery shops, World faiths and their religious buildings, and public performances of music, dance, and theatre, we need to look both outside and inside the museum building to make an exciting and relevant display.

 

Antonia Lovelace, Curator of World Cultures, Leeds Museums and Galleries

Antonia Lovelace, Curator of World Cultures at Leeds Museums and Galleries, will be answering your questions on World Cultures on Thursday 27 February 2014 between  2-4.30pm.

You can post questions before the Q & A session, on 27 February, or you can converse in real time with our expert. You can use the comment box below to post a question, or you can use twitter with the hashtag  #mdyask.

Comments have to be moderated, to protect the blog from spam, so if your comment doesn’t appear straight away, don’t worry. We’ll get to it as quickly as we can.

If you have a problem submitting questions, either in the comment box, or via twitter, please email your questions to gillian.waters@ymt.org.uk

If you have ideas for subjects you’d like to see us cover in future, or would like to take questions yourself, please get in contact with us and let us know.

 

by
19 Comments

Genesis Project

Inspiration for fashion can come from the most unexpected places as M and I found out recently when working with York College BA Fashion students.

We showed them some of our First World War objects such as soldiers’ helmets, a field telephone, ration book and a gas hood, none of which would make someone like me think of anything to do with fashion! We shared information about life for soldiers, showing them uniforms, and later added to the objects already seen by looking at an amputation kit, cards sent to the Front by sweethearts, trench maps and a teddy bear given to a child by her father in 1914 before he went off to war. The students showed huge interest in the objects and had already started sketching.

More recently we went to the college to see how their work was progressing and have been hugely impressed not just by the level of imagination and skill shown, but by how many students have completed their own research into the subject, often encouraged by a familial link. Students used ideas such as the conflicting past of the two sides of their family between the navy and being conscientious objectors and the way women’s clothes changed from feminine to functional for factory and farm work but have still managed to create beautiful, wearable items.

The finished garments will hopefully go on display when our new exhibition opens in the summer, but for now, I look forward to seeing them at the college fashion show in May.

 

The yellow representing the mustard gas and the overlapping fabrics showing disfigurement and injury.

Genesis 4

The lower part of a garment made using fabric inspired by a ration book.

Genesis 1

Practising burning holes in fabric to represent bullet holes and injury

Genesis 2

Sketches showing movement in a pleated dress which will hide love messages in between the pleats

Genesis 3

 

By Sarah Mortimer

 

by
No Comments

York Art Gallery Redevelopment January Update

Many changes are taking place over at the art gallery. Simpsons have really started to get stuck into the demolition. As you can see this was the lean to that was attached to the North side of the gallery. It has been partially demolished to create the new walk way from the artist garden through to Exhibition Square. it also reveals the original North side of the building which will be cleaned and repointed to match the upper level.
Many changes are taking place over at the art gallery. Simpsons have really started to get stuck into the demolition. As you can see this was the lean to that was attached to the North side of the gallery. It has been partially demolished to create the new walk way from the artist garden through to Exhibition Square. it also reveals the original North side of the building which will be cleaned and repointed to match the upper level.
Here's the new South gallery sub floor, a beam and block floor will be built onto this however, the sub floor has been put in so that a spider crane can be used to remove the South Gallery roof internally. This will make way for the new Upper South Gallery.

Here’s the new South gallery sub floor, a beam and block floor will be built onto this however, the sub floor has been put in so that a spider crane can be used to remove the South Gallery roof internally. This will make way for the new Upper South Gallery.
The parquet floor has been removed from the former Gallery of Pots to make way for a new floor which will link the four upper galleries together.

The parquet floor has been removed from the former Gallery of Pots to make way for a new floor which will link the four upper galleries together.

Here's a new opening from the archives into our stairwell.

Here’s a new opening from the archives into our stairwell.

the archway has been broken through in the lower North gallery this was originally the city archives it now looks and feels huge!

The archway has been broken through in the lower North gallery this was originally the city archives it now looks and feels huge!

 
by
No Comments