Buffalo Public Schools and Mark Bradford: Five Buffalos

We’ve had a gorgeous exhibition up this summer called Shade: Clyfford Still/Mark Bradford.

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Knowing that this exhibition was in the works, Eric Jones from the Public Art Initiative started a project with the Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts earlier this year. Students from this high school created a work of art inspired by the work of Bradford, and Bradford visited the school to talk with the students back in May. I got a chance to visit BPS192 and to talk with the students and their teacher about the project:

The project has made me think a lot about what kinds of opportunities there are when you can work with the artist. This wasn’t always as present an opportunity when I was working in encyclopedic museums where contemporary art was part of the collection, but one of a larger pool of collections. This project also highlighted some challenges– people have their own, very full schedules and aligning institutional schedules, public school schedules, the schedules of a dozen museum staff members, and the schedule of the artist is something of a moving target. That you’re trying to hit with a bow and arrow. From a thousand yards. While riding a galloping horse. Backwards.

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Innovation and Inspiration: The Education Department Goes on a Field Trip

Field trip! The team hit the road at the very end of August for a trip to Pittsburgh. It was a jam-packed day, driving down and back with four museum visits in between, but so worth every minute.

The Frick Pittsburgh

First stop, the Frick Pittsburgh! (Yes, Virginia, there is a Frick in Pittsburgh) It was a quick visit so we weren’t able to see the historic mansion or the gardens, and only part of the art museum, but we did see the Killer Heels exhibition,

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along with the education center and the new welcome center (thanks to Robin Nicholson for the tour and quick visit!).

Carnegie Museum of Art and Carnegie Museum of Natural History

The Carnegie Museum of Art and Carnegie Museum of Natural History are in connected and contiguous buildings, so we got a two for one visit here. We met up with folks from the Innovation Studio (thanks to Jeffrey Inscho!), from the education department, and from the Hillman Photography Initiative and had some amazing conversations that still have me thinking and thinking and thinking weeks later. In addition to getting to see some amazing art,

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Carl Andre + three educators

(we talked a lot about the Andre piece, as the A-K’s similar Andre work is also currently out as part of a sculpture exhibition)

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(okay, we talked about this one, too, but it was a different conversation)

we also got to see one of the projects that the Innovation Studio has been working on that, to me, is the epitome of an inspired museum project: The Section of Mystery.

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It’s so magical as an experience I’m not even going to describe it here. You need to experience it for yourself. Suffice to say that it is delightful, not in the anodyne way that things are sometimes described as delightful, but in the way that the experience filled me with delight.

We also got to see the LIGHTIME project right on the eve of it’s launch. There is so much in this project that highlights ways in which museums can be relevant, the ways in which they can do meaningful, outwardingly-facing work that is thoughtful, insightful, creative, inspiring, and innovative. I keep returning to it in my mind, again and again, and it is making me think about how much of the field is wide open for museums to step into if they are willing to step outside of their tightly bound perimeters. I can’t wait to see where this project goes, and can’t wait to get back to Pittsburgh to see it again.

Andy Warhol Museum

We took a jaunt across the river to the Andy Warhol Museum where we met up with Desi Gonzalez (thank you!) who very kindly gave us a tour of the museum and of their soon-to-launch app.

We also got a chance to check out the tactile reproductions that the museum has made of a couple of Warhol’s drawings, which, in conjunction with the accessibility aspects of the app, were really interesting examples of accessibility practice.

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Corner of the tactile reproduction with braille label beneath

We wrapped up with a quick visit to the studios downstairs.

Also, balloons.

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Teri and Lindsay and Silver Clouds with Twitter Birds

In short, an amazing visit.