On the edge of the city of Sheboygan in northeast Wisconsin is a new museum nestled into the hillside. Opened earlier this year, the Art Preserve of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center is home to 40 artist-built environments, or “spaces and places that have been significantly transformed by an artist to embody and express aspects of their history, place, and culture, their ideas and imagination.” The first of its kind, the spectacular, immersive space is an ode to the artists and their intellectual and creative trajectories, displaying a staggering array of installations, sculptures, paintings, and myriad works across mediums.
Ranging from Emery Blagdon’s suspended kinetic assemblages made of sheet metal, holiday lights, and other found objects to Nek Chand’s troupe of more than 150 mosaic figures, the artworks are eclectic in discipline, scale, and aesthetic. Each of the environments consists of thousands of objects, structural components, and ephemera that form a holistic, comprehensive view of the artist’s life and work. Around the circular pathway winding through Ray Yoshida’s reconstructed Chicago apartment, for example, are ritual masks from New Guinea, printed works, pieces of pop culture from Maxwell Street Market, and notes and letters, offering an intimate glimpse into his diverse collection and personal relationships.
In addition to the environments, the 56,000-square-foot space also houses 11 commissioned responses that included standalone works and projects literally embedded into the preserve’s structure. The Denver-based architecture studio Tres Birds designed the building, although the stairway was completed in collaboration with the late Ruth DeYoung Kohler II and uses concrete pavers that jut out beyond the walls to display a series of “hobo symbols,” or emblems travelers historically used to denote safety. Kohler conceived of the Art Preserve while director of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, where she championed local and international artists and devoted herself to protecting their works and legacies.
Watch the video below for a tour of the expansive space, and dive into the full collection, which includes pieces from sites in Wisconsin, New York City, Mississippi, India, and other global locations, on its site.
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Massive Curved Vaults Mimicking Traditional Kilns House a Jingdezhen Museum Dedicated to Porcelain Production
Jingdezhen, Jiangxi, China is widely recognized as the porcelain capital of the world with a more than 2,000-year history of producing prized ceramics. As an homage to that tradition, architects from Studio Zhu-Pei constructed an open-air structure with towering arches mimicking traditional kilns. The expansive brick vaults now house the northern city’s Imperial Kiln Museum, which sits adjacent to the production sites used during the Ming and Qing dynasties.
To preserve and demarcate the existing ruins on the grounds, Studio Zhu-Pei configured the new building around the remnants, like courtyards and monuments embedded in the ground, in a way that brings together history and contemporary culture in a single space. Each of the curved structures, which is comprised of both recycled and new bricks, differs in volume and length, allowing light to stream in at varying angles throughout the day. The museum’s entrance is on the ground level so that the “experience of people entering it is the same as the past artisans,” the architects say in a statement.
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Intrusive Clowns, Preserved Cats, and Centuries-Old Hair: Museums Are Sharing Their Creepiest Objects
If you’re not into clowns, taxidermied creatures, or centuries-old piles of hair, you probably should avoid the #CreepiestObject hashtag on Twitter. In recent days, museums worldwide have been digging into their nightmare-inducing archives to uncover the most disturbing pieces their collections have to offer. Findings include a preserved mermaid-like animal, a cross-section of a pregnant cat, and a children’s toy that’s rumored to move on its own.
Similar to the virtual bouquets and the challenge to recreate famous artworks, the movement is one of the ways shuttered museums are engaging with—and now terrifying—their quarantined audiences. We’ve gathered some of their picks below, but please consider this your warning before you scroll down or dive deeper into the hashtag. (via Hyperallergic)
— Natural Sciences NMS (@NatSciNMS) April 17, 2020
@RedHeadedAli how can we ignore such a call to arms?
This particular item has caused a few nightmares for our followers this week.
— Norwich Castle (@NorwichCastle) April 17, 2020
— GR Public Museum (@GRMuseum) April 20, 2020
— Grant Museum of Zoology (@GrantMuseum) April 17, 2020
So we couldn’t let the moment for #CreepiestObject #CURATORBATTLE pass us by… From the Dept of Creepy in our Education Collection: a naturally mummified pigeon. Sealed into the wall of a building, this pigeon died, desiccated and then its feathers were eaten clean by insects. pic.twitter.com/qpfE7kA02t
— Bell Museum (@BellMuseum) April 20, 2020
Thanks for thinking of us @HottyCouture and wow, will we be having nightmares tonight with all these #CreepiestObject|s ! Here is the one we just can’t hide from you, one of our many creepy gems – our Plague Mask (1650/1750)! #curatorbattle pic.twitter.com/JrMjqAJSIM
— Deutsches Historisches Museum (@DHMBerlin) April 17, 2020
— Jenna Locke (@JennaLocke) April 20, 2020
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The Gecko Museum’s opening only had one visitor to consider its most prized pieces: a mango-loving crested gecko that goes by The Mayor. Arriving around 7 p.m., the nocturnal lizard visited his personal gallery earlier this week, stopping to contemplate “American Gecko” and “The Birth of Gecko.” Dallas-based Jill Young, who both painted and curated the miniature museum’s permanent collection as part of a humorous quarantine activity, told Hyperallergic that “The Mayor was particularly fond of my ‘American Gothic’ spoof, ‘American Gecko.’ I guess he’s in an American Modernism phase.”
Similar to the brothers, Pandoro and Tiramisù, that disregarded signs requesting they not chew on the furniture or artworks in The Gerbil Museum, The Mayor ignored the red rope cordoning off the artworks. “I now understand that The Mayor’s relationship to art is a necessarily tactile one, which I can appreciate,” Young said. Despite her gecko’s unconventional approach to art, though, Young hopes to see the small-scale trend continue. “Every pet deserves a cultural outing,” she said.
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Stay-home orders around the world have inspired people to fill their time creatively—think the recreations of well-known artworks and “Coronavirus Tourism Bureau” posters we mentioned last week. But rather than fashion a mock art exhibition for themselves, this London couple thought a little bit smaller. Filippo and Marianna created The Gerbil Museum, a miniature gallery space for their two 9-month-old gerbils, Pandoro and Tiramisù.
Complete with cardboard benches and scribbled museum labels, the wood-floored gallery houses humorous versions of iconic works. The couple told Hyperallergic that at first they hoped to paint miniature productions of more obscure pieces but decided that portraying “The Kiss,” “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” and other classics with gerbil subjects would be funnier.
As you can tell, though, Pandoro and Tiramisù lack museum etiquette and have been chewing on some of the furniture, despite the sign that advises restraint. (via Hyperallergic)
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Art Museums and Cultural Institutions Around the Globe are Sending Each Other Virtual Bouquets and Botanicals
Social media was teeming last week with floral offerings from cultural institutions around the globe. Since many are closed due to COVID-19, museums like the Guggenheim, MCA Chicago, and the New-York Historical Society, which began the botanical trend, exchanged sweet messages paired with virtual bouquets from their current collections. We’ve gathered some of them here, but be sure to check out #MuseumBouquet on Twitter and Instagram for more historical florals. (via Design You Trust)
Jennifer Steinkamp. “Dance Hall Girl, daisies,” 2004. pic.twitter.com/BTAXyo1Up0
— MassArt Art Museum (@maamboston) March 24, 2020
📸: “Camille Henrot: The Restless Earth” pic.twitter.com/UaioP3LhU4
— New Museum (@newmuseum) March 24, 2020
We are thinking of you, @NoguchiMuseum. We hope this Ikebana arrangement from the Denver chapter of the International Ikebana Society brings some joy to you today. #museumbouquet pic.twitter.com/i0a7hByrb6
— Denver Botanic Gardens (@botanic) March 24, 2020
— Museum of History (@CanMusHistory) March 24, 2020
— Hirshhorn (@hirshhorn) March 24, 2020
Yayoi Kusama, “Les Tulipes de Shangri-La” pic.twitter.com/RmTCFrzxOg
— FRONT International (@FrontTriennial) March 30, 2020
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Editor's Picks: Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.