Cabinet of Curiosities

 May 7, 2011

Mary Jo Gibson, This Write Life

In this week’s cabinet, I have several museums that have embraced social media by sharing pieces of their collections with the online community.  This new movement to expand their audience in the digital age has been slow in coming due to many reasons, Copyright is the biggest hurdle, but thanks to Facebook, Twitter and the Google Art Project, new exhibits and permanent pieces are finding a whole world of art lovers.  The physical museum visit can never be replaced with the small screen, but take a moment and fill your senses with these offerings.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Washington Haggadah, Delights of Ornament, on loan from the Library of Congress.  This illuminated manuscript portrays scenes from daily life with decorative motifs found in contemporary Italian manuscripts.  The artist chose individual elements with suggestive detail to enliven each page.

Couch & Footstool from the Imperial Villa of Lucius Verus (co-emperor, 161-69 AD).  Carved bone with friezes from scenes of imperial Roman life.  Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917.

Motherhood Connections, narrative by lecturer Jean Sorabella, shares several images of the idealized depictions of mothers through an array of mediums.

Fatherhood Connections, narrative by gallery supervisor Tim Healing, features work by Van Gogh, several American painters and timeless photographs of fatherhood.

The Art Walters Museum has a special Facebook feature, What Will You Discover, that is one of my favorites.  Not only do they offer glimpses of their latest exhibit, they also showcase pieces from their extensive collection.

Arab Kneeling in Prayer, Charles Bargue, 1826-1883.  This intimate charcoal drawing is not on view in the regular collections.

Hercules and the Erymanthian Boar by Antoine-Louis Barye (1795-1875), depicts Hercules in the third of the twelve labors assigned to him by Eurystheus, King of Mycenae.

Intaglio of a Kneeling Warrior, Etruscan, 1st century BC, a rare piece of antiquity with exquisite detail.

The Morgan Library and Museum exhibits the diaries of Henry David Thoreau, Jan Austen, Anais Nin and Bob Dylan,The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Life.  Sharing the private pieces of emotional havens, memoirs and uncensored confidences.  Included are “The Diary” podcasts are, Do you remember your wedding day? Listen to Charles Seliger’s diary entry on his wedding day… “The great and magical day has arrived…” and “Boating with Thoreau”.

The Morgan also has a blog with excerpts of letters and art such as the “Great Horse Controversy” by John Ruskin.  “Give a horse a nut & see if he can hold it as a squirrel can.”

Detroit Institute of Art, Search the Collection link,The Wedding Dance, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.  This painting has a great rollover effect that allows the viewer to study the individuals depicted, their own unique identity and actions in the dance.  Thankfully, codpieces are no longer in fashion!

I have been watching the restoration of the Peacock Room belonging to founder Charles Lang Freer where he displayed his collection of ceramics.

This exhibit started with the bare walls and shelves designed by architect Thomas Jeckyll for shipping magnate Frederick Leyland in London.  The current rolling presentation is based on photographs taken in Freer’s Detroit residence in 1908.

Amy Stewart, author of Wicked Plants from Algonquin Books, now releases Wicked Bugs.  Museums and Botanical Gardens have seized on this concept to tell the history of plants, their interaction in human life and their secrets.  The Tuscan Botanical Garden even created their own fictional character “Dr. Ergot Ratbane” and his mad plant laboratory.

And finally, The Chicago Art Institute, created a Twitter persona, @CourtierRobert, for their Kings, Queens and Courtiers exhibit.  Communicating with 140 characters in Renaissance English shows what great minds are at work in Chicago.

That is all for this week’s cabinet.  Have any museums or exhibits that are sharing their collections online?  I am always interested in your suggestions.  Until next time,




Filed under May

4 responses to “Cabinet of Curiosities

  1. What a great overview of so many incredible museums, galleries and special displays!

    Thanks for the excellent resource 🙂

  2. Some art to intrigue your writers!

  3. What an incredible list. Thanks so much for all this information.

  4. There is so much out there to inspire creativity. I am fortunate to have a job that lets me access this information.



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