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When you visit the Brooklyn Museum, you can use our app to ask us questions or chat about the artwork you see.

You’ll be connected with a team of art historians and educators who know our collection, can answer your questions, and can give you recommendations on what to see next. 

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Did Degas often paint portraits?
Although Degas is perhaps best known for his paintings of ballet dancers, he also painted many portraits during his career. In the mid-19th century, some artists began to change portraitures emphasis from social status to individual personality. These artists, including Degas, began to explore new ways of communicating the sitter's character to viewers. Do you feel like you can guess anything about this person from his portrait by Degas?
Is he a butcher?
That's a great guess, because of the two platters of meat, right? He may actually be an artist who painted still-lifes of food and then those plates would be his "props."
He looks awkward sitting like that. I guess that an artist would find it awkward to pose for someone.
Yes, he's kind of slumped, with his legs oddly bent like he's tired, or bored. If you look at some of the earlier portraits on that wall, you'll see how individuals were shown in more formal, "proper" poses. This was because the portraits were made to preserve their legacies and achievements and social status. Degas, on the other hand, is just interested in man as an individual with a personality.
It makes sense. For me a portrait would have to describe a picture of your present, but the present is not what is in front of you. The present is what makes you the person that you are at the moment.
You put that so well, and I agree! It's a "modern" way of thinking but it's true, we are all so much more than our facial features and our best set of clothing.
Maybe Degas wanted to portray a person through what we can't recognize at first.
Of course, I also enjoy very elegant traditional portraits but I find Degas's portraits so perceptive and moving. I hope you'll look up more of them online at some point! He looks deeper into the person, and he uses pictorial techniques like composition (especially unusual viewpoints and cropped edges), color palettes, and his handling of the paint to convey a feeling about that individual.
Can you provide a bigger picture of cats in Egyptian society please?
Many people think that cats themselves were worshipped as divine. This is untrue, the Egyptians respected aspects of cats and other animals and associated their attributes with the divine. Their depictions of half-human half-animal hybrids were more complicated, and show that certain gods had these types of traits.
Cats were revered because they were able to kill vermin (mice, rats etc) that would get into food supplies and since grain was so important to daily life and food cats were important too. Cats also were able to kill snakes like the cobra. The Goddess Bastet, who I mentioned earlier, was the goddess of Protection, fertility and motherhood, because cats (large and small) tend to have large litters and are very nurturing and protective of their kittens. Also, it's worth mentioning that cats were believed to be first domesticated in the region!
Thanks!
Would you be able to tell me more about this?
This is a wood sculpture, which is interesting because wood was extremely expensive and rare. Very little wood survives the test of time which is why most artifacts we see are made of stone but Egyptians regularly used wood.
The sculpture may have worn a jeweled collar, based on the markings around the neck. And the gem on top of its head is a representation of a scarab, an animal also important to the Egyptians. So, while sculptures of cats often show accessories on the cats, scholars aren't sure if actual cats wore any adornments.
Were some of them used as containers for mummified cats?
Yes! Some of them were, the picture you sent me however wasn't as its solid wood. Mummified cats were often offerings to the Goddess Bastet. Mummified cats may have been thought to still have protective qualities.
What was the significance of this crouching pose?
You may have read about it on the label but it was unusual to see a 3D mummified figure sitting this way and here, it may connect the goddess with the Netherworld.
Kneeling was regularly seen, as a pose of worship and giving offering and was placed in temples. But this figure is crouching more than kneeling, and seems to be holding something in its hands. The crouching stance is well known in 2-dimensional representations. Also the cat-like figure is meant to look mummified.
Egyptian art was about communication, and as such was standardized so it could be as clear as possible. We very rarely see a break in standard poses, or actions or ways of depicting a figure. So when we do it's unusual. The label offers some thoughts as to what this pose may mean however.
Thank you so much for your help!
Do you know anything about Jack Baur, the man in this Alice Neel painting?
Hi! John I. H. Baur directed the Brooklyn Museum’s Department of Painting and Sculpture from 1936 to 1952. He was a scholar and curator of American Art in particular. After working at this museum, he was a curator and the director of the Whitney Museum in Manhattan. She has shown him here in his suit -- ready for the business of art and museum work!
Baur and Neel were friends. He even gave a speech in her honor at a memorial service after her death.
Hi! We were surprised by the Squishmatician Calculator by Harry Allen in the case with dishes. Can you tell us more about that and the decision to put those objects in the same group on display?
When the American Art curator gave us a tour of these galleries, she reminded us that this calculator was really cutting-edge when it was first made. The clear silicone (the "squishy" plastic-like material) allows light to reach the solar-powered battery; plus, it's unbreakable if the calculator is dropped or crushed.
It also shows us exactly what's inside the object. Many of the objects in that case were innovative when they were first produced in their use of materials, or in their approach to shape/form. They're all everyday objects, too!
There are some other transparent objects nearby, as well including some glassware, and a chair by Louis Dierra.
We are looking for objects in the museum made in the Americas before 1776. Where should we go?
The first gallery after the entrance gallery in American Identities shows portraits and furniture from colonial America around and a little before that time period and you should absolutely see the Arts of the Americas exhibit, "Life, Death and Transformation".
Thank you! Are there objects from this period in Visible Storage?
Yes, definitely. Go to the back drawers and you'll see some great objects from the American collection, though I'm not sure what time periods you'll find.
Super. Thank you! My students are here trying to piece together colonial America through material culture. I've done the project several times and wanted to be sure I didn't miss anything new. Thank you for being amazing, BMA.
If you want to dig into some specific objects, the portrait of Mrs. Silvester Gardiner in that first gallery I mentioned might be interesting to look at. It was painted in 1772 and during the revolution, her husband tended to hurt British soldiers after the battle of Bunker Hill, and was quite vocal about his Tory views. They ended up sailing back to England in 1778.
You'll also notice that many of the portraits in that gallery have unusual styling, that is because many of the portrait artists in Colonial America were self-taught, often relying on reproduced prints of European artworks to train themselves.
They were really excited to find the Zuni necklace. And they were fascinated by the portraiture. Thank you!
You're very welcome. I hope you and your class will be able to visit again, too!
I'm curious if these statues have significance as religious objects or were just artistic objects created to sell (since kachinas are usually worn as costumes ceremonially).
Kachina dolls are used to teach children about religion in Zuni and Hopi Pueblo Native American culture. Kachinas are thought to embody the spirit of a living thing and when called upon, they will evoke the power of whatever spirit they represented, such as an eagle. They are also represented by men in costume during ceremonies and sacred dances, so that's another aspect of them. The dolls are not considered sacred and are given to children and young women during ceremonies so that they may learn about the religion.
Awesome, thank you!
No problem!
What is this?
This is the OLPC XO Laptop, which stands for One Laptop Per Child. This was a part of a project that intended to provide a laptop for every child for learning. It was a non-profit initiative taken to distribute technology to teaching and learning in the developing world.
The project faced strong criticism since many human rights groups argued that third world countries don't have the infrastructure needed to support such a technology. It was good in theory, but not entirely practical.
What does "provenance not known" mean? It's on the label for this statue.
Provenance means the history of how this object came from its original location to its current location. Very often, museums have a record of original location found, and what the history of ownership is for each object, but sometimes this information is missing from the record. That's a great observation and a great question!
Oh, I see. Do we know whether this was originally freestanding or carved into a rock wall? I was also wondering about that
Also, whether it originally had a head?
It was probably part of a larger group statue which was freestanding, but placed next to a wall in a tomb. And it would definitely originally have had a head, headless statues were not a deliberate style in Ancient Egyptian statues. Which is interesting though considering modern sculpture. Rodin made bodies deliberately missing certain body parts, sometimes limbs, sometimes head, to concentrate on the shape and figure of a specific element of the human body. You'll notice some of his casts on your way out of the museum in the lobby!
I'll look for those! Thanks.
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Did Degas often paint portraits?
Although Degas is perhaps best known for his paintings of ballet dancers, he also painted many portraits during his career. In the mid-19th century, some artists began to change portraitures emphasis from social status to individual personality. These artists, including Degas, began to explore new ways of communicating the sitter's character to viewers. Do you feel like you can guess anything about this person from his portrait by Degas?
Is he a butcher?
That's a great guess, because of the two platters of meat, right? He may actually be an artist who painted still-lifes of food and then those plates would be his "props."
He looks awkward sitting like that. I guess that an artist would find it awkward to pose for someone.
Yes, he's kind of slumped, with his legs oddly bent like he's tired, or bored. If you look at some of the earlier portraits on that wall, you'll see how individuals were shown in more formal, "proper" poses. This was because the portraits were made to preserve their legacies and achievements and social status. Degas, on the other hand, is just interested in man as an individual with a personality.
It makes sense. For me a portrait would have to describe a picture of your present, but the present is not what is in front of you. The present is what makes you the person that you are at the moment.
You put that so well, and I agree! It's a "modern" way of thinking but it's true, we are all so much more than our facial features and our best set of clothing.
Maybe Degas wanted to portray a person through what we can't recognize at first.
Of course, I also enjoy very elegant traditional portraits but I find Degas's portraits so perceptive and moving. I hope you'll look up more of them online at some point! He looks deeper into the person, and he uses pictorial techniques like composition (especially unusual viewpoints and cropped edges), color palettes, and his handling of the paint to convey a feeling about that individual.
Can you provide a bigger picture of cats in Egyptian society please?
Many people think that cats themselves were worshipped as divine. This is untrue, the Egyptians respected aspects of cats and other animals and associated their attributes with the divine. Their depictions of half-human half-animal hybrids were more complicated, and show that certain gods had these types of traits.
Cats were revered because they were able to kill vermin (mice, rats etc) that would get into food supplies and since grain was so important to daily life and food cats were important too. Cats also were able to kill snakes like the cobra. The Goddess Bastet, who I mentioned earlier, was the goddess of Protection, fertility and motherhood, because cats (large and small) tend to have large litters and are very nurturing and protective of their kittens. Also, it's worth mentioning that cats were believed to be first domesticated in the region!
Thanks!
Would you be able to tell me more about this?
This is a wood sculpture, which is interesting because wood was extremely expensive and rare. Very little wood survives the test of time which is why most artifacts we see are made of stone but Egyptians regularly used wood.
The sculpture may have worn a jeweled collar, based on the markings around the neck. And the gem on top of its head is a representation of a scarab, an animal also important to the Egyptians. So, while sculptures of cats often show accessories on the cats, scholars aren't sure if actual cats wore any adornments.
Were some of them used as containers for mummified cats?
Yes! Some of them were, the picture you sent me however wasn't as its solid wood. Mummified cats were often offerings to the Goddess Bastet. Mummified cats may have been thought to still have protective qualities.
What was the significance of this crouching pose?
You may have read about it on the label but it was unusual to see a 3D mummified figure sitting this way and here, it may connect the goddess with the Netherworld.
Kneeling was regularly seen, as a pose of worship and giving offering and was placed in temples. But this figure is crouching more than kneeling, and seems to be holding something in its hands. The crouching stance is well known in 2-dimensional representations. Also the cat-like figure is meant to look mummified.
Egyptian art was about communication, and as such was standardized so it could be as clear as possible. We very rarely see a break in standard poses, or actions or ways of depicting a figure. So when we do it's unusual. The label offers some thoughts as to what this pose may mean however.
Thank you so much for your help!
Do you know anything about Jack Baur, the man in this Alice Neel painting?
Hi! John I. H. Baur directed the Brooklyn Museum’s Department of Painting and Sculpture from 1936 to 1952. He was a scholar and curator of American Art in particular. After working at this museum, he was a curator and the director of the Whitney Museum in Manhattan. She has shown him here in his suit -- ready for the business of art and museum work!
Baur and Neel were friends. He even gave a speech in her honor at a memorial service after her death.
Hi! We were surprised by the Squishmatician Calculator by Harry Allen in the case with dishes. Can you tell us more about that and the decision to put those objects in the same group on display?
When the American Art curator gave us a tour of these galleries, she reminded us that this calculator was really cutting-edge when it was first made. The clear silicone (the "squishy" plastic-like material) allows light to reach the solar-powered battery; plus, it's unbreakable if the calculator is dropped or crushed.
It also shows us exactly what's inside the object. Many of the objects in that case were innovative when they were first produced in their use of materials, or in their approach to shape/form. They're all everyday objects, too!
There are some other transparent objects nearby, as well including some glassware, and a chair by Louis Dierra.
We are looking for objects in the museum made in the Americas before 1776. Where should we go?
The first gallery after the entrance gallery in American Identities shows portraits and furniture from colonial America around and a little before that time period and you should absolutely see the Arts of the Americas exhibit, "Life, Death and Transformation".
Thank you! Are there objects from this period in Visible Storage?
Yes, definitely. Go to the back drawers and you'll see some great objects from the American collection, though I'm not sure what time periods you'll find.
Super. Thank you! My students are here trying to piece together colonial America through material culture. I've done the project several times and wanted to be sure I didn't miss anything new. Thank you for being amazing, BMA.
If you want to dig into some specific objects, the portrait of Mrs. Silvester Gardiner in that first gallery I mentioned might be interesting to look at. It was painted in 1772 and during the revolution, her husband tended to hurt British soldiers after the battle of Bunker Hill, and was quite vocal about his Tory views. They ended up sailing back to England in 1778.
You'll also notice that many of the portraits in that gallery have unusual styling, that is because many of the portrait artists in Colonial America were self-taught, often relying on reproduced prints of European artworks to train themselves.
They were really excited to find the Zuni necklace. And they were fascinated by the portraiture. Thank you!
You're very welcome. I hope you and your class will be able to visit again, too!
I'm curious if these statues have significance as religious objects or were just artistic objects created to sell (since kachinas are usually worn as costumes ceremonially).
Kachina dolls are used to teach children about religion in Zuni and Hopi Pueblo Native American culture. Kachinas are thought to embody the spirit of a living thing and when called upon, they will evoke the power of whatever spirit they represented, such as an eagle. They are also represented by men in costume during ceremonies and sacred dances, so that's another aspect of them. The dolls are not considered sacred and are given to children and young women during ceremonies so that they may learn about the religion.
Awesome, thank you!
No problem!
What is this?
This is the OLPC XO Laptop, which stands for One Laptop Per Child. This was a part of a project that intended to provide a laptop for every child for learning. It was a non-profit initiative taken to distribute technology to teaching and learning in the developing world.
The project faced strong criticism since many human rights groups argued that third world countries don't have the infrastructure needed to support such a technology. It was good in theory, but not entirely practical.
What does "provenance not known" mean? It's on the label for this statue.
Provenance means the history of how this object came from its original location to its current location. Very often, museums have a record of original location found, and what the history of ownership is for each object, but sometimes this information is missing from the record. That's a great observation and a great question!
Oh, I see. Do we know whether this was originally freestanding or carved into a rock wall? I was also wondering about that
Also, whether it originally had a head?
It was probably part of a larger group statue which was freestanding, but placed next to a wall in a tomb. And it would definitely originally have had a head, headless statues were not a deliberate style in Ancient Egyptian statues. Which is interesting though considering modern sculpture. Rodin made bodies deliberately missing certain body parts, sometimes limbs, sometimes head, to concentrate on the shape and figure of a specific element of the human body. You'll notice some of his casts on your way out of the museum in the lobby!
I'll look for those! Thanks.
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

Explore our permanent collection or a special exhibition on a guided group tour led by one of our friendly and experienced Museum Guides, or on your own with a self-guided group tour. These tours are for adult groups with at least 10 people, last about one hour, and can be tailored to meet the interests and needs of your group.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Did Degas often paint portraits?
Although Degas is perhaps best known for his paintings of ballet dancers, he also painted many portraits during his career. In the mid-19th century, some artists began to change portraitures emphasis from social status to individual personality. These artists, including Degas, began to explore new ways of communicating the sitter's character to viewers. Do you feel like you can guess anything about this person from his portrait by Degas?
Is he a butcher?
That's a great guess, because of the two platters of meat, right? He may actually be an artist who painted still-lifes of food and then those plates would be his "props."
He looks awkward sitting like that. I guess that an artist would find it awkward to pose for someone.
Yes, he's kind of slumped, with his legs oddly bent like he's tired, or bored. If you look at some of the earlier portraits on that wall, you'll see how individuals were shown in more formal, "proper" poses. This was because the portraits were made to preserve their legacies and achievements and social status. Degas, on the other hand, is just interested in man as an individual with a personality.
It makes sense. For me a portrait would have to describe a picture of your present, but the present is not what is in front of you. The present is what makes you the person that you are at the moment.
You put that so well, and I agree! It's a "modern" way of thinking but it's true, we are all so much more than our facial features and our best set of clothing.
Maybe Degas wanted to portray a person through what we can't recognize at first.
Of course, I also enjoy very elegant traditional portraits but I find Degas's portraits so perceptive and moving. I hope you'll look up more of them online at some point! He looks deeper into the person, and he uses pictorial techniques like composition (especially unusual viewpoints and cropped edges), color palettes, and his handling of the paint to convey a feeling about that individual.
Can you provide a bigger picture of cats in Egyptian society please?
Many people think that cats themselves were worshipped as divine. This is untrue, the Egyptians respected aspects of cats and other animals and associated their attributes with the divine. Their depictions of half-human half-animal hybrids were more complicated, and show that certain gods had these types of traits.
Cats were revered because they were able to kill vermin (mice, rats etc) that would get into food supplies and since grain was so important to daily life and food cats were important too. Cats also were able to kill snakes like the cobra. The Goddess Bastet, who I mentioned earlier, was the goddess of Protection, fertility and motherhood, because cats (large and small) tend to have large litters and are very nurturing and protective of their kittens. Also, it's worth mentioning that cats were believed to be first domesticated in the region!
Thanks!
Would you be able to tell me more about this?
This is a wood sculpture, which is interesting because wood was extremely expensive and rare. Very little wood survives the test of time which is why most artifacts we see are made of stone but Egyptians regularly used wood.
The sculpture may have worn a jeweled collar, based on the markings around the neck. And the gem on top of its head is a representation of a scarab, an animal also important to the Egyptians. So, while sculptures of cats often show accessories on the cats, scholars aren't sure if actual cats wore any adornments.
Were some of them used as containers for mummified cats?
Yes! Some of them were, the picture you sent me however wasn't as its solid wood. Mummified cats were often offerings to the Goddess Bastet. Mummified cats may have been thought to still have protective qualities.
What was the significance of this crouching pose?
You may have read about it on the label but it was unusual to see a 3D mummified figure sitting this way and here, it may connect the goddess with the Netherworld.
Kneeling was regularly seen, as a pose of worship and giving offering and was placed in temples. But this figure is crouching more than kneeling, and seems to be holding something in its hands. The crouching stance is well known in 2-dimensional representations. Also the cat-like figure is meant to look mummified.
Egyptian art was about communication, and as such was standardized so it could be as clear as possible. We very rarely see a break in standard poses, or actions or ways of depicting a figure. So when we do it's unusual. The label offers some thoughts as to what this pose may mean however.
Thank you so much for your help!
Do you know anything about Jack Baur, the man in this Alice Neel painting?
Hi! John I. H. Baur directed the Brooklyn Museum’s Department of Painting and Sculpture from 1936 to 1952. He was a scholar and curator of American Art in particular. After working at this museum, he was a curator and the director of the Whitney Museum in Manhattan. She has shown him here in his suit -- ready for the business of art and museum work!
Baur and Neel were friends. He even gave a speech in her honor at a memorial service after her death.
Hi! We were surprised by the Squishmatician Calculator by Harry Allen in the case with dishes. Can you tell us more about that and the decision to put those objects in the same group on display?
When the American Art curator gave us a tour of these galleries, she reminded us that this calculator was really cutting-edge when it was first made. The clear silicone (the "squishy" plastic-like material) allows light to reach the solar-powered battery; plus, it's unbreakable if the calculator is dropped or crushed.
It also shows us exactly what's inside the object. Many of the objects in that case were innovative when they were first produced in their use of materials, or in their approach to shape/form. They're all everyday objects, too!
There are some other transparent objects nearby, as well including some glassware, and a chair by Louis Dierra.
We are looking for objects in the museum made in the Americas before 1776. Where should we go?
The first gallery after the entrance gallery in American Identities shows portraits and furniture from colonial America around and a little before that time period and you should absolutely see the Arts of the Americas exhibit, "Life, Death and Transformation".
Thank you! Are there objects from this period in Visible Storage?
Yes, definitely. Go to the back drawers and you'll see some great objects from the American collection, though I'm not sure what time periods you'll find.
Super. Thank you! My students are here trying to piece together colonial America through material culture. I've done the project several times and wanted to be sure I didn't miss anything new. Thank you for being amazing, BMA.
If you want to dig into some specific objects, the portrait of Mrs. Silvester Gardiner in that first gallery I mentioned might be interesting to look at. It was painted in 1772 and during the revolution, her husband tended to hurt British soldiers after the battle of Bunker Hill, and was quite vocal about his Tory views. They ended up sailing back to England in 1778.
You'll also notice that many of the portraits in that gallery have unusual styling, that is because many of the portrait artists in Colonial America were self-taught, often relying on reproduced prints of European artworks to train themselves.
They were really excited to find the Zuni necklace. And they were fascinated by the portraiture. Thank you!
You're very welcome. I hope you and your class will be able to visit again, too!
I'm curious if these statues have significance as religious objects or were just artistic objects created to sell (since kachinas are usually worn as costumes ceremonially).
Kachina dolls are used to teach children about religion in Zuni and Hopi Pueblo Native American culture. Kachinas are thought to embody the spirit of a living thing and when called upon, they will evoke the power of whatever spirit they represented, such as an eagle. They are also represented by men in costume during ceremonies and sacred dances, so that's another aspect of them. The dolls are not considered sacred and are given to children and young women during ceremonies so that they may learn about the religion.
Awesome, thank you!
No problem!
What is this?
This is the OLPC XO Laptop, which stands for One Laptop Per Child. This was a part of a project that intended to provide a laptop for every child for learning. It was a non-profit initiative taken to distribute technology to teaching and learning in the developing world.
The project faced strong criticism since many human rights groups argued that third world countries don't have the infrastructure needed to support such a technology. It was good in theory, but not entirely practical.
What does "provenance not known" mean? It's on the label for this statue.
Provenance means the history of how this object came from its original location to its current location. Very often, museums have a record of original location found, and what the history of ownership is for each object, but sometimes this information is missing from the record. That's a great observation and a great question!
Oh, I see. Do we know whether this was originally freestanding or carved into a rock wall? I was also wondering about that
Also, whether it originally had a head?
It was probably part of a larger group statue which was freestanding, but placed next to a wall in a tomb. And it would definitely originally have had a head, headless statues were not a deliberate style in Ancient Egyptian statues. Which is interesting though considering modern sculpture. Rodin made bodies deliberately missing certain body parts, sometimes limbs, sometimes head, to concentrate on the shape and figure of a specific element of the human body. You'll notice some of his casts on your way out of the museum in the lobby!
I'll look for those! Thanks.
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

We're renovating our second floor to bring you a better experience, which means the Libraries and Archives are closed to the public until fall 2017. If you're a researcher who would like to access our resources, send us an email and we'll do our best to assist you.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Did Degas often paint portraits?
Although Degas is perhaps best known for his paintings of ballet dancers, he also painted many portraits during his career. In the mid-19th century, some artists began to change portraitures emphasis from social status to individual personality. These artists, including Degas, began to explore new ways of communicating the sitter's character to viewers. Do you feel like you can guess anything about this person from his portrait by Degas?
Is he a butcher?
That's a great guess, because of the two platters of meat, right? He may actually be an artist who painted still-lifes of food and then those plates would be his "props."
He looks awkward sitting like that. I guess that an artist would find it awkward to pose for someone.
Yes, he's kind of slumped, with his legs oddly bent like he's tired, or bored. If you look at some of the earlier portraits on that wall, you'll see how individuals were shown in more formal, "proper" poses. This was because the portraits were made to preserve their legacies and achievements and social status. Degas, on the other hand, is just interested in man as an individual with a personality.
It makes sense. For me a portrait would have to describe a picture of your present, but the present is not what is in front of you. The present is what makes you the person that you are at the moment.
You put that so well, and I agree! It's a "modern" way of thinking but it's true, we are all so much more than our facial features and our best set of clothing.
Maybe Degas wanted to portray a person through what we can't recognize at first.
Of course, I also enjoy very elegant traditional portraits but I find Degas's portraits so perceptive and moving. I hope you'll look up more of them online at some point! He looks deeper into the person, and he uses pictorial techniques like composition (especially unusual viewpoints and cropped edges), color palettes, and his handling of the paint to convey a feeling about that individual.
Can you provide a bigger picture of cats in Egyptian society please?
Many people think that cats themselves were worshipped as divine. This is untrue, the Egyptians respected aspects of cats and other animals and associated their attributes with the divine. Their depictions of half-human half-animal hybrids were more complicated, and show that certain gods had these types of traits.
Cats were revered because they were able to kill vermin (mice, rats etc) that would get into food supplies and since grain was so important to daily life and food cats were important too. Cats also were able to kill snakes like the cobra. The Goddess Bastet, who I mentioned earlier, was the goddess of Protection, fertility and motherhood, because cats (large and small) tend to have large litters and are very nurturing and protective of their kittens. Also, it's worth mentioning that cats were believed to be first domesticated in the region!
Thanks!
Would you be able to tell me more about this?
This is a wood sculpture, which is interesting because wood was extremely expensive and rare. Very little wood survives the test of time which is why most artifacts we see are made of stone but Egyptians regularly used wood.
The sculpture may have worn a jeweled collar, based on the markings around the neck. And the gem on top of its head is a representation of a scarab, an animal also important to the Egyptians. So, while sculptures of cats often show accessories on the cats, scholars aren't sure if actual cats wore any adornments.
Were some of them used as containers for mummified cats?
Yes! Some of them were, the picture you sent me however wasn't as its solid wood. Mummified cats were often offerings to the Goddess Bastet. Mummified cats may have been thought to still have protective qualities.
What was the significance of this crouching pose?
You may have read about it on the label but it was unusual to see a 3D mummified figure sitting this way and here, it may connect the goddess with the Netherworld.
Kneeling was regularly seen, as a pose of worship and giving offering and was placed in temples. But this figure is crouching more than kneeling, and seems to be holding something in its hands. The crouching stance is well known in 2-dimensional representations. Also the cat-like figure is meant to look mummified.
Egyptian art was about communication, and as such was standardized so it could be as clear as possible. We very rarely see a break in standard poses, or actions or ways of depicting a figure. So when we do it's unusual. The label offers some thoughts as to what this pose may mean however.
Thank you so much for your help!
Do you know anything about Jack Baur, the man in this Alice Neel painting?
Hi! John I. H. Baur directed the Brooklyn Museum’s Department of Painting and Sculpture from 1936 to 1952. He was a scholar and curator of American Art in particular. After working at this museum, he was a curator and the director of the Whitney Museum in Manhattan. She has shown him here in his suit -- ready for the business of art and museum work!
Baur and Neel were friends. He even gave a speech in her honor at a memorial service after her death.
Hi! We were surprised by the Squishmatician Calculator by Harry Allen in the case with dishes. Can you tell us more about that and the decision to put those objects in the same group on display?
When the American Art curator gave us a tour of these galleries, she reminded us that this calculator was really cutting-edge when it was first made. The clear silicone (the "squishy" plastic-like material) allows light to reach the solar-powered battery; plus, it's unbreakable if the calculator is dropped or crushed.
It also shows us exactly what's inside the object. Many of the objects in that case were innovative when they were first produced in their use of materials, or in their approach to shape/form. They're all everyday objects, too!
There are some other transparent objects nearby, as well including some glassware, and a chair by Louis Dierra.
We are looking for objects in the museum made in the Americas before 1776. Where should we go?
The first gallery after the entrance gallery in American Identities shows portraits and furniture from colonial America around and a little before that time period and you should absolutely see the Arts of the Americas exhibit, "Life, Death and Transformation".
Thank you! Are there objects from this period in Visible Storage?
Yes, definitely. Go to the back drawers and you'll see some great objects from the American collection, though I'm not sure what time periods you'll find.
Super. Thank you! My students are here trying to piece together colonial America through material culture. I've done the project several times and wanted to be sure I didn't miss anything new. Thank you for being amazing, BMA.
If you want to dig into some specific objects, the portrait of Mrs. Silvester Gardiner in that first gallery I mentioned might be interesting to look at. It was painted in 1772 and during the revolution, her husband tended to hurt British soldiers after the battle of Bunker Hill, and was quite vocal about his Tory views. They ended up sailing back to England in 1778.
You'll also notice that many of the portraits in that gallery have unusual styling, that is because many of the portrait artists in Colonial America were self-taught, often relying on reproduced prints of European artworks to train themselves.
They were really excited to find the Zuni necklace. And they were fascinated by the portraiture. Thank you!
You're very welcome. I hope you and your class will be able to visit again, too!
I'm curious if these statues have significance as religious objects or were just artistic objects created to sell (since kachinas are usually worn as costumes ceremonially).
Kachina dolls are used to teach children about religion in Zuni and Hopi Pueblo Native American culture. Kachinas are thought to embody the spirit of a living thing and when called upon, they will evoke the power of whatever spirit they represented, such as an eagle. They are also represented by men in costume during ceremonies and sacred dances, so that's another aspect of them. The dolls are not considered sacred and are given to children and young women during ceremonies so that they may learn about the religion.
Awesome, thank you!
No problem!
What is this?
This is the OLPC XO Laptop, which stands for One Laptop Per Child. This was a part of a project that intended to provide a laptop for every child for learning. It was a non-profit initiative taken to distribute technology to teaching and learning in the developing world.
The project faced strong criticism since many human rights groups argued that third world countries don't have the infrastructure needed to support such a technology. It was good in theory, but not entirely practical.
What does "provenance not known" mean? It's on the label for this statue.
Provenance means the history of how this object came from its original location to its current location. Very often, museums have a record of original location found, and what the history of ownership is for each object, but sometimes this information is missing from the record. That's a great observation and a great question!
Oh, I see. Do we know whether this was originally freestanding or carved into a rock wall? I was also wondering about that
Also, whether it originally had a head?
It was probably part of a larger group statue which was freestanding, but placed next to a wall in a tomb. And it would definitely originally have had a head, headless statues were not a deliberate style in Ancient Egyptian statues. Which is interesting though considering modern sculpture. Rodin made bodies deliberately missing certain body parts, sometimes limbs, sometimes head, to concentrate on the shape and figure of a specific element of the human body. You'll notice some of his casts on your way out of the museum in the lobby!
I'll look for those! Thanks.
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Did Degas often paint portraits?
Although Degas is perhaps best known for his paintings of ballet dancers, he also painted many portraits during his career. In the mid-19th century, some artists began to change portraitures emphasis from social status to individual personality. These artists, including Degas, began to explore new ways of communicating the sitter's character to viewers. Do you feel like you can guess anything about this person from his portrait by Degas?
Is he a butcher?
That's a great guess, because of the two platters of meat, right? He may actually be an artist who painted still-lifes of food and then those plates would be his "props."
He looks awkward sitting like that. I guess that an artist would find it awkward to pose for someone.
Yes, he's kind of slumped, with his legs oddly bent like he's tired, or bored. If you look at some of the earlier portraits on that wall, you'll see how individuals were shown in more formal, "proper" poses. This was because the portraits were made to preserve their legacies and achievements and social status. Degas, on the other hand, is just interested in man as an individual with a personality.
It makes sense. For me a portrait would have to describe a picture of your present, but the present is not what is in front of you. The present is what makes you the person that you are at the moment.
You put that so well, and I agree! It's a "modern" way of thinking but it's true, we are all so much more than our facial features and our best set of clothing.
Maybe Degas wanted to portray a person through what we can't recognize at first.
Of course, I also enjoy very elegant traditional portraits but I find Degas's portraits so perceptive and moving. I hope you'll look up more of them online at some point! He looks deeper into the person, and he uses pictorial techniques like composition (especially unusual viewpoints and cropped edges), color palettes, and his handling of the paint to convey a feeling about that individual.
Can you provide a bigger picture of cats in Egyptian society please?
Many people think that cats themselves were worshipped as divine. This is untrue, the Egyptians respected aspects of cats and other animals and associated their attributes with the divine. Their depictions of half-human half-animal hybrids were more complicated, and show that certain gods had these types of traits.
Cats were revered because they were able to kill vermin (mice, rats etc) that would get into food supplies and since grain was so important to daily life and food cats were important too. Cats also were able to kill snakes like the cobra. The Goddess Bastet, who I mentioned earlier, was the goddess of Protection, fertility and motherhood, because cats (large and small) tend to have large litters and are very nurturing and protective of their kittens. Also, it's worth mentioning that cats were believed to be first domesticated in the region!
Thanks!
Would you be able to tell me more about this?
This is a wood sculpture, which is interesting because wood was extremely expensive and rare. Very little wood survives the test of time which is why most artifacts we see are made of stone but Egyptians regularly used wood.
The sculpture may have worn a jeweled collar, based on the markings around the neck. And the gem on top of its head is a representation of a scarab, an animal also important to the Egyptians. So, while sculptures of cats often show accessories on the cats, scholars aren't sure if actual cats wore any adornments.
Were some of them used as containers for mummified cats?
Yes! Some of them were, the picture you sent me however wasn't as its solid wood. Mummified cats were often offerings to the Goddess Bastet. Mummified cats may have been thought to still have protective qualities.
What was the significance of this crouching pose?
You may have read about it on the label but it was unusual to see a 3D mummified figure sitting this way and here, it may connect the goddess with the Netherworld.
Kneeling was regularly seen, as a pose of worship and giving offering and was placed in temples. But this figure is crouching more than kneeling, and seems to be holding something in its hands. The crouching stance is well known in 2-dimensional representations. Also the cat-like figure is meant to look mummified.
Egyptian art was about communication, and as such was standardized so it could be as clear as possible. We very rarely see a break in standard poses, or actions or ways of depicting a figure. So when we do it's unusual. The label offers some thoughts as to what this pose may mean however.
Thank you so much for your help!
Do you know anything about Jack Baur, the man in this Alice Neel painting?
Hi! John I. H. Baur directed the Brooklyn Museum’s Department of Painting and Sculpture from 1936 to 1952. He was a scholar and curator of American Art in particular. After working at this museum, he was a curator and the director of the Whitney Museum in Manhattan. She has shown him here in his suit -- ready for the business of art and museum work!
Baur and Neel were friends. He even gave a speech in her honor at a memorial service after her death.
Hi! We were surprised by the Squishmatician Calculator by Harry Allen in the case with dishes. Can you tell us more about that and the decision to put those objects in the same group on display?
When the American Art curator gave us a tour of these galleries, she reminded us that this calculator was really cutting-edge when it was first made. The clear silicone (the "squishy" plastic-like material) allows light to reach the solar-powered battery; plus, it's unbreakable if the calculator is dropped or crushed.
It also shows us exactly what's inside the object. Many of the objects in that case were innovative when they were first produced in their use of materials, or in their approach to shape/form. They're all everyday objects, too!
There are some other transparent objects nearby, as well including some glassware, and a chair by Louis Dierra.
We are looking for objects in the museum made in the Americas before 1776. Where should we go?
The first gallery after the entrance gallery in American Identities shows portraits and furniture from colonial America around and a little before that time period and you should absolutely see the Arts of the Americas exhibit, "Life, Death and Transformation".
Thank you! Are there objects from this period in Visible Storage?
Yes, definitely. Go to the back drawers and you'll see some great objects from the American collection, though I'm not sure what time periods you'll find.
Super. Thank you! My students are here trying to piece together colonial America through material culture. I've done the project several times and wanted to be sure I didn't miss anything new. Thank you for being amazing, BMA.
If you want to dig into some specific objects, the portrait of Mrs. Silvester Gardiner in that first gallery I mentioned might be interesting to look at. It was painted in 1772 and during the revolution, her husband tended to hurt British soldiers after the battle of Bunker Hill, and was quite vocal about his Tory views. They ended up sailing back to England in 1778.
You'll also notice that many of the portraits in that gallery have unusual styling, that is because many of the portrait artists in Colonial America were self-taught, often relying on reproduced prints of European artworks to train themselves.
They were really excited to find the Zuni necklace. And they were fascinated by the portraiture. Thank you!
You're very welcome. I hope you and your class will be able to visit again, too!
I'm curious if these statues have significance as religious objects or were just artistic objects created to sell (since kachinas are usually worn as costumes ceremonially).
Kachina dolls are used to teach children about religion in Zuni and Hopi Pueblo Native American culture. Kachinas are thought to embody the spirit of a living thing and when called upon, they will evoke the power of whatever spirit they represented, such as an eagle. They are also represented by men in costume during ceremonies and sacred dances, so that's another aspect of them. The dolls are not considered sacred and are given to children and young women during ceremonies so that they may learn about the religion.
Awesome, thank you!
No problem!
What is this?
This is the OLPC XO Laptop, which stands for One Laptop Per Child. This was a part of a project that intended to provide a laptop for every child for learning. It was a non-profit initiative taken to distribute technology to teaching and learning in the developing world.
The project faced strong criticism since many human rights groups argued that third world countries don't have the infrastructure needed to support such a technology. It was good in theory, but not entirely practical.
What does "provenance not known" mean? It's on the label for this statue.
Provenance means the history of how this object came from its original location to its current location. Very often, museums have a record of original location found, and what the history of ownership is for each object, but sometimes this information is missing from the record. That's a great observation and a great question!
Oh, I see. Do we know whether this was originally freestanding or carved into a rock wall? I was also wondering about that
Also, whether it originally had a head?
It was probably part of a larger group statue which was freestanding, but placed next to a wall in a tomb. And it would definitely originally have had a head, headless statues were not a deliberate style in Ancient Egyptian statues. Which is interesting though considering modern sculpture. Rodin made bodies deliberately missing certain body parts, sometimes limbs, sometimes head, to concentrate on the shape and figure of a specific element of the human body. You'll notice some of his casts on your way out of the museum in the lobby!
I'll look for those! Thanks.
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

Exhibitions on the Fifth Floor

Rest rooms are on the first, second, and third floors; those on the first and third floors are wheelchair accessible. The second-floor rest rooms can be reached only via the stairs from the Schapiro Wing on the third floor. Water fountains are near the first- and third-floor rest rooms.

Pick up Assistive Listening Devices at the Admissions Desk on the first floor.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Did Degas often paint portraits?
Although Degas is perhaps best known for his paintings of ballet dancers, he also painted many portraits during his career. In the mid-19th century, some artists began to change portraitures emphasis from social status to individual personality. These artists, including Degas, began to explore new ways of communicating the sitter's character to viewers. Do you feel like you can guess anything about this person from his portrait by Degas?
Is he a butcher?
That's a great guess, because of the two platters of meat, right? He may actually be an artist who painted still-lifes of food and then those plates would be his "props."
He looks awkward sitting like that. I guess that an artist would find it awkward to pose for someone.
Yes, he's kind of slumped, with his legs oddly bent like he's tired, or bored. If you look at some of the earlier portraits on that wall, you'll see how individuals were shown in more formal, "proper" poses. This was because the portraits were made to preserve their legacies and achievements and social status. Degas, on the other hand, is just interested in man as an individual with a personality.
It makes sense. For me a portrait would have to describe a picture of your present, but the present is not what is in front of you. The present is what makes you the person that you are at the moment.
You put that so well, and I agree! It's a "modern" way of thinking but it's true, we are all so much more than our facial features and our best set of clothing.
Maybe Degas wanted to portray a person through what we can't recognize at first.
Of course, I also enjoy very elegant traditional portraits but I find Degas's portraits so perceptive and moving. I hope you'll look up more of them online at some point! He looks deeper into the person, and he uses pictorial techniques like composition (especially unusual viewpoints and cropped edges), color palettes, and his handling of the paint to convey a feeling about that individual.
Can you provide a bigger picture of cats in Egyptian society please?
Many people think that cats themselves were worshipped as divine. This is untrue, the Egyptians respected aspects of cats and other animals and associated their attributes with the divine. Their depictions of half-human half-animal hybrids were more complicated, and show that certain gods had these types of traits.
Cats were revered because they were able to kill vermin (mice, rats etc) that would get into food supplies and since grain was so important to daily life and food cats were important too. Cats also were able to kill snakes like the cobra. The Goddess Bastet, who I mentioned earlier, was the goddess of Protection, fertility and motherhood, because cats (large and small) tend to have large litters and are very nurturing and protective of their kittens. Also, it's worth mentioning that cats were believed to be first domesticated in the region!
Thanks!
Would you be able to tell me more about this?
This is a wood sculpture, which is interesting because wood was extremely expensive and rare. Very little wood survives the test of time which is why most artifacts we see are made of stone but Egyptians regularly used wood.
The sculpture may have worn a jeweled collar, based on the markings around the neck. And the gem on top of its head is a representation of a scarab, an animal also important to the Egyptians. So, while sculptures of cats often show accessories on the cats, scholars aren't sure if actual cats wore any adornments.
Were some of them used as containers for mummified cats?
Yes! Some of them were, the picture you sent me however wasn't as its solid wood. Mummified cats were often offerings to the Goddess Bastet. Mummified cats may have been thought to still have protective qualities.
What was the significance of this crouching pose?
You may have read about it on the label but it was unusual to see a 3D mummified figure sitting this way and here, it may connect the goddess with the Netherworld.
Kneeling was regularly seen, as a pose of worship and giving offering and was placed in temples. But this figure is crouching more than kneeling, and seems to be holding something in its hands. The crouching stance is well known in 2-dimensional representations. Also the cat-like figure is meant to look mummified.
Egyptian art was about communication, and as such was standardized so it could be as clear as possible. We very rarely see a break in standard poses, or actions or ways of depicting a figure. So when we do it's unusual. The label offers some thoughts as to what this pose may mean however.
Thank you so much for your help!
Do you know anything about Jack Baur, the man in this Alice Neel painting?
Hi! John I. H. Baur directed the Brooklyn Museum’s Department of Painting and Sculpture from 1936 to 1952. He was a scholar and curator of American Art in particular. After working at this museum, he was a curator and the director of the Whitney Museum in Manhattan. She has shown him here in his suit -- ready for the business of art and museum work!
Baur and Neel were friends. He even gave a speech in her honor at a memorial service after her death.
Hi! We were surprised by the Squishmatician Calculator by Harry Allen in the case with dishes. Can you tell us more about that and the decision to put those objects in the same group on display?
When the American Art curator gave us a tour of these galleries, she reminded us that this calculator was really cutting-edge when it was first made. The clear silicone (the "squishy" plastic-like material) allows light to reach the solar-powered battery; plus, it's unbreakable if the calculator is dropped or crushed.
It also shows us exactly what's inside the object. Many of the objects in that case were innovative when they were first produced in their use of materials, or in their approach to shape/form. They're all everyday objects, too!
There are some other transparent objects nearby, as well including some glassware, and a chair by Louis Dierra.
We are looking for objects in the museum made in the Americas before 1776. Where should we go?
The first gallery after the entrance gallery in American Identities shows portraits and furniture from colonial America around and a little before that time period and you should absolutely see the Arts of the Americas exhibit, "Life, Death and Transformation".
Thank you! Are there objects from this period in Visible Storage?
Yes, definitely. Go to the back drawers and you'll see some great objects from the American collection, though I'm not sure what time periods you'll find.
Super. Thank you! My students are here trying to piece together colonial America through material culture. I've done the project several times and wanted to be sure I didn't miss anything new. Thank you for being amazing, BMA.
If you want to dig into some specific objects, the portrait of Mrs. Silvester Gardiner in that first gallery I mentioned might be interesting to look at. It was painted in 1772 and during the revolution, her husband tended to hurt British soldiers after the battle of Bunker Hill, and was quite vocal about his Tory views. They ended up sailing back to England in 1778.
You'll also notice that many of the portraits in that gallery have unusual styling, that is because many of the portrait artists in Colonial America were self-taught, often relying on reproduced prints of European artworks to train themselves.
They were really excited to find the Zuni necklace. And they were fascinated by the portraiture. Thank you!
You're very welcome. I hope you and your class will be able to visit again, too!
I'm curious if these statues have significance as religious objects or were just artistic objects created to sell (since kachinas are usually worn as costumes ceremonially).
Kachina dolls are used to teach children about religion in Zuni and Hopi Pueblo Native American culture. Kachinas are thought to embody the spirit of a living thing and when called upon, they will evoke the power of whatever spirit they represented, such as an eagle. They are also represented by men in costume during ceremonies and sacred dances, so that's another aspect of them. The dolls are not considered sacred and are given to children and young women during ceremonies so that they may learn about the religion.
Awesome, thank you!
No problem!
What is this?
This is the OLPC XO Laptop, which stands for One Laptop Per Child. This was a part of a project that intended to provide a laptop for every child for learning. It was a non-profit initiative taken to distribute technology to teaching and learning in the developing world.
The project faced strong criticism since many human rights groups argued that third world countries don't have the infrastructure needed to support such a technology. It was good in theory, but not entirely practical.
What does "provenance not known" mean? It's on the label for this statue.
Provenance means the history of how this object came from its original location to its current location. Very often, museums have a record of original location found, and what the history of ownership is for each object, but sometimes this information is missing from the record. That's a great observation and a great question!
Oh, I see. Do we know whether this was originally freestanding or carved into a rock wall? I was also wondering about that
Also, whether it originally had a head?
It was probably part of a larger group statue which was freestanding, but placed next to a wall in a tomb. And it would definitely originally have had a head, headless statues were not a deliberate style in Ancient Egyptian statues. Which is interesting though considering modern sculpture. Rodin made bodies deliberately missing certain body parts, sometimes limbs, sometimes head, to concentrate on the shape and figure of a specific element of the human body. You'll notice some of his casts on your way out of the museum in the lobby!
I'll look for those! Thanks.
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

Exhibitions on the Fourth Floor

Rest rooms are on the first, second, and third floors; those on the first and third floors are wheelchair accessible. The second-floor rest rooms can be reached only via the stairs from the Schapiro Wing on the third floor. Water fountains are near the first- and third-floor rest rooms.

Pick up Assistive Listening Devices at the Admissions Desk on the first floor.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Did Degas often paint portraits?
Although Degas is perhaps best known for his paintings of ballet dancers, he also painted many portraits during his career. In the mid-19th century, some artists began to change portraitures emphasis from social status to individual personality. These artists, including Degas, began to explore new ways of communicating the sitter's character to viewers. Do you feel like you can guess anything about this person from his portrait by Degas?
Is he a butcher?
That's a great guess, because of the two platters of meat, right? He may actually be an artist who painted still-lifes of food and then those plates would be his "props."
He looks awkward sitting like that. I guess that an artist would find it awkward to pose for someone.
Yes, he's kind of slumped, with his legs oddly bent like he's tired, or bored. If you look at some of the earlier portraits on that wall, you'll see how individuals were shown in more formal, "proper" poses. This was because the portraits were made to preserve their legacies and achievements and social status. Degas, on the other hand, is just interested in man as an individual with a personality.
It makes sense. For me a portrait would have to describe a picture of your present, but the present is not what is in front of you. The present is what makes you the person that you are at the moment.
You put that so well, and I agree! It's a "modern" way of thinking but it's true, we are all so much more than our facial features and our best set of clothing.
Maybe Degas wanted to portray a person through what we can't recognize at first.
Of course, I also enjoy very elegant traditional portraits but I find Degas's portraits so perceptive and moving. I hope you'll look up more of them online at some point! He looks deeper into the person, and he uses pictorial techniques like composition (especially unusual viewpoints and cropped edges), color palettes, and his handling of the paint to convey a feeling about that individual.
Can you provide a bigger picture of cats in Egyptian society please?
Many people think that cats themselves were worshipped as divine. This is untrue, the Egyptians respected aspects of cats and other animals and associated their attributes with the divine. Their depictions of half-human half-animal hybrids were more complicated, and show that certain gods had these types of traits.
Cats were revered because they were able to kill vermin (mice, rats etc) that would get into food supplies and since grain was so important to daily life and food cats were important too. Cats also were able to kill snakes like the cobra. The Goddess Bastet, who I mentioned earlier, was the goddess of Protection, fertility and motherhood, because cats (large and small) tend to have large litters and are very nurturing and protective of their kittens. Also, it's worth mentioning that cats were believed to be first domesticated in the region!
Thanks!
Would you be able to tell me more about this?
This is a wood sculpture, which is interesting because wood was extremely expensive and rare. Very little wood survives the test of time which is why most artifacts we see are made of stone but Egyptians regularly used wood.
The sculpture may have worn a jeweled collar, based on the markings around the neck. And the gem on top of its head is a representation of a scarab, an animal also important to the Egyptians. So, while sculptures of cats often show accessories on the cats, scholars aren't sure if actual cats wore any adornments.
Were some of them used as containers for mummified cats?
Yes! Some of them were, the picture you sent me however wasn't as its solid wood. Mummified cats were often offerings to the Goddess Bastet. Mummified cats may have been thought to still have protective qualities.
What was the significance of this crouching pose?
You may have read about it on the label but it was unusual to see a 3D mummified figure sitting this way and here, it may connect the goddess with the Netherworld.
Kneeling was regularly seen, as a pose of worship and giving offering and was placed in temples. But this figure is crouching more than kneeling, and seems to be holding something in its hands. The crouching stance is well known in 2-dimensional representations. Also the cat-like figure is meant to look mummified.
Egyptian art was about communication, and as such was standardized so it could be as clear as possible. We very rarely see a break in standard poses, or actions or ways of depicting a figure. So when we do it's unusual. The label offers some thoughts as to what this pose may mean however.
Thank you so much for your help!
Do you know anything about Jack Baur, the man in this Alice Neel painting?
Hi! John I. H. Baur directed the Brooklyn Museum’s Department of Painting and Sculpture from 1936 to 1952. He was a scholar and curator of American Art in particular. After working at this museum, he was a curator and the director of the Whitney Museum in Manhattan. She has shown him here in his suit -- ready for the business of art and museum work!
Baur and Neel were friends. He even gave a speech in her honor at a memorial service after her death.
Hi! We were surprised by the Squishmatician Calculator by Harry Allen in the case with dishes. Can you tell us more about that and the decision to put those objects in the same group on display?
When the American Art curator gave us a tour of these galleries, she reminded us that this calculator was really cutting-edge when it was first made. The clear silicone (the "squishy" plastic-like material) allows light to reach the solar-powered battery; plus, it's unbreakable if the calculator is dropped or crushed.
It also shows us exactly what's inside the object. Many of the objects in that case were innovative when they were first produced in their use of materials, or in their approach to shape/form. They're all everyday objects, too!
There are some other transparent objects nearby, as well including some glassware, and a chair by Louis Dierra.
We are looking for objects in the museum made in the Americas before 1776. Where should we go?
The first gallery after the entrance gallery in American Identities shows portraits and furniture from colonial America around and a little before that time period and you should absolutely see the Arts of the Americas exhibit, "Life, Death and Transformation".
Thank you! Are there objects from this period in Visible Storage?
Yes, definitely. Go to the back drawers and you'll see some great objects from the American collection, though I'm not sure what time periods you'll find.
Super. Thank you! My students are here trying to piece together colonial America through material culture. I've done the project several times and wanted to be sure I didn't miss anything new. Thank you for being amazing, BMA.
If you want to dig into some specific objects, the portrait of Mrs. Silvester Gardiner in that first gallery I mentioned might be interesting to look at. It was painted in 1772 and during the revolution, her husband tended to hurt British soldiers after the battle of Bunker Hill, and was quite vocal about his Tory views. They ended up sailing back to England in 1778.
You'll also notice that many of the portraits in that gallery have unusual styling, that is because many of the portrait artists in Colonial America were self-taught, often relying on reproduced prints of European artworks to train themselves.
They were really excited to find the Zuni necklace. And they were fascinated by the portraiture. Thank you!
You're very welcome. I hope you and your class will be able to visit again, too!
I'm curious if these statues have significance as religious objects or were just artistic objects created to sell (since kachinas are usually worn as costumes ceremonially).
Kachina dolls are used to teach children about religion in Zuni and Hopi Pueblo Native American culture. Kachinas are thought to embody the spirit of a living thing and when called upon, they will evoke the power of whatever spirit they represented, such as an eagle. They are also represented by men in costume during ceremonies and sacred dances, so that's another aspect of them. The dolls are not considered sacred and are given to children and young women during ceremonies so that they may learn about the religion.
Awesome, thank you!
No problem!
What is this?
This is the OLPC XO Laptop, which stands for One Laptop Per Child. This was a part of a project that intended to provide a laptop for every child for learning. It was a non-profit initiative taken to distribute technology to teaching and learning in the developing world.
The project faced strong criticism since many human rights groups argued that third world countries don't have the infrastructure needed to support such a technology. It was good in theory, but not entirely practical.
What does "provenance not known" mean? It's on the label for this statue.
Provenance means the history of how this object came from its original location to its current location. Very often, museums have a record of original location found, and what the history of ownership is for each object, but sometimes this information is missing from the record. That's a great observation and a great question!
Oh, I see. Do we know whether this was originally freestanding or carved into a rock wall? I was also wondering about that
Also, whether it originally had a head?
It was probably part of a larger group statue which was freestanding, but placed next to a wall in a tomb. And it would definitely originally have had a head, headless statues were not a deliberate style in Ancient Egyptian statues. Which is interesting though considering modern sculpture. Rodin made bodies deliberately missing certain body parts, sometimes limbs, sometimes head, to concentrate on the shape and figure of a specific element of the human body. You'll notice some of his casts on your way out of the museum in the lobby!
I'll look for those! Thanks.
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

Exhibitions on the Third Floor

Also on the Third Floor: Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Auditorium

Rest rooms are on the first, second, and third floors; those on the first and third floors are wheelchair accessible. The second-floor rest rooms can be reached only via the stairs from the Schapiro Wing on the third floor. Water fountains are near the first- and third-floor rest rooms.

Pick up Assistive Listening Devices at the Admissions Desk on the first floor.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Did Degas often paint portraits?
Although Degas is perhaps best known for his paintings of ballet dancers, he also painted many portraits during his career. In the mid-19th century, some artists began to change portraitures emphasis from social status to individual personality. These artists, including Degas, began to explore new ways of communicating the sitter's character to viewers. Do you feel like you can guess anything about this person from his portrait by Degas?
Is he a butcher?
That's a great guess, because of the two platters of meat, right? He may actually be an artist who painted still-lifes of food and then those plates would be his "props."
He looks awkward sitting like that. I guess that an artist would find it awkward to pose for someone.
Yes, he's kind of slumped, with his legs oddly bent like he's tired, or bored. If you look at some of the earlier portraits on that wall, you'll see how individuals were shown in more formal, "proper" poses. This was because the portraits were made to preserve their legacies and achievements and social status. Degas, on the other hand, is just interested in man as an individual with a personality.
It makes sense. For me a portrait would have to describe a picture of your present, but the present is not what is in front of you. The present is what makes you the person that you are at the moment.
You put that so well, and I agree! It's a "modern" way of thinking but it's true, we are all so much more than our facial features and our best set of clothing.
Maybe Degas wanted to portray a person through what we can't recognize at first.
Of course, I also enjoy very elegant traditional portraits but I find Degas's portraits so perceptive and moving. I hope you'll look up more of them online at some point! He looks deeper into the person, and he uses pictorial techniques like composition (especially unusual viewpoints and cropped edges), color palettes, and his handling of the paint to convey a feeling about that individual.
Can you provide a bigger picture of cats in Egyptian society please?
Many people think that cats themselves were worshipped as divine. This is untrue, the Egyptians respected aspects of cats and other animals and associated their attributes with the divine. Their depictions of half-human half-animal hybrids were more complicated, and show that certain gods had these types of traits.
Cats were revered because they were able to kill vermin (mice, rats etc) that would get into food supplies and since grain was so important to daily life and food cats were important too. Cats also were able to kill snakes like the cobra. The Goddess Bastet, who I mentioned earlier, was the goddess of Protection, fertility and motherhood, because cats (large and small) tend to have large litters and are very nurturing and protective of their kittens. Also, it's worth mentioning that cats were believed to be first domesticated in the region!
Thanks!
Would you be able to tell me more about this?
This is a wood sculpture, which is interesting because wood was extremely expensive and rare. Very little wood survives the test of time which is why most artifacts we see are made of stone but Egyptians regularly used wood.
The sculpture may have worn a jeweled collar, based on the markings around the neck. And the gem on top of its head is a representation of a scarab, an animal also important to the Egyptians. So, while sculptures of cats often show accessories on the cats, scholars aren't sure if actual cats wore any adornments.
Were some of them used as containers for mummified cats?
Yes! Some of them were, the picture you sent me however wasn't as its solid wood. Mummified cats were often offerings to the Goddess Bastet. Mummified cats may have been thought to still have protective qualities.
What was the significance of this crouching pose?
You may have read about it on the label but it was unusual to see a 3D mummified figure sitting this way and here, it may connect the goddess with the Netherworld.
Kneeling was regularly seen, as a pose of worship and giving offering and was placed in temples. But this figure is crouching more than kneeling, and seems to be holding something in its hands. The crouching stance is well known in 2-dimensional representations. Also the cat-like figure is meant to look mummified.
Egyptian art was about communication, and as such was standardized so it could be as clear as possible. We very rarely see a break in standard poses, or actions or ways of depicting a figure. So when we do it's unusual. The label offers some thoughts as to what this pose may mean however.
Thank you so much for your help!
Do you know anything about Jack Baur, the man in this Alice Neel painting?
Hi! John I. H. Baur directed the Brooklyn Museum’s Department of Painting and Sculpture from 1936 to 1952. He was a scholar and curator of American Art in particular. After working at this museum, he was a curator and the director of the Whitney Museum in Manhattan. She has shown him here in his suit -- ready for the business of art and museum work!
Baur and Neel were friends. He even gave a speech in her honor at a memorial service after her death.
Hi! We were surprised by the Squishmatician Calculator by Harry Allen in the case with dishes. Can you tell us more about that and the decision to put those objects in the same group on display?
When the American Art curator gave us a tour of these galleries, she reminded us that this calculator was really cutting-edge when it was first made. The clear silicone (the "squishy" plastic-like material) allows light to reach the solar-powered battery; plus, it's unbreakable if the calculator is dropped or crushed.
It also shows us exactly what's inside the object. Many of the objects in that case were innovative when they were first produced in their use of materials, or in their approach to shape/form. They're all everyday objects, too!
There are some other transparent objects nearby, as well including some glassware, and a chair by Louis Dierra.
We are looking for objects in the museum made in the Americas before 1776. Where should we go?
The first gallery after the entrance gallery in American Identities shows portraits and furniture from colonial America around and a little before that time period and you should absolutely see the Arts of the Americas exhibit, "Life, Death and Transformation".
Thank you! Are there objects from this period in Visible Storage?
Yes, definitely. Go to the back drawers and you'll see some great objects from the American collection, though I'm not sure what time periods you'll find.
Super. Thank you! My students are here trying to piece together colonial America through material culture. I've done the project several times and wanted to be sure I didn't miss anything new. Thank you for being amazing, BMA.
If you want to dig into some specific objects, the portrait of Mrs. Silvester Gardiner in that first gallery I mentioned might be interesting to look at. It was painted in 1772 and during the revolution, her husband tended to hurt British soldiers after the battle of Bunker Hill, and was quite vocal about his Tory views. They ended up sailing back to England in 1778.
You'll also notice that many of the portraits in that gallery have unusual styling, that is because many of the portrait artists in Colonial America were self-taught, often relying on reproduced prints of European artworks to train themselves.
They were really excited to find the Zuni necklace. And they were fascinated by the portraiture. Thank you!
You're very welcome. I hope you and your class will be able to visit again, too!
I'm curious if these statues have significance as religious objects or were just artistic objects created to sell (since kachinas are usually worn as costumes ceremonially).
Kachina dolls are used to teach children about religion in Zuni and Hopi Pueblo Native American culture. Kachinas are thought to embody the spirit of a living thing and when called upon, they will evoke the power of whatever spirit they represented, such as an eagle. They are also represented by men in costume during ceremonies and sacred dances, so that's another aspect of them. The dolls are not considered sacred and are given to children and young women during ceremonies so that they may learn about the religion.
Awesome, thank you!
No problem!
What is this?
This is the OLPC XO Laptop, which stands for One Laptop Per Child. This was a part of a project that intended to provide a laptop for every child for learning. It was a non-profit initiative taken to distribute technology to teaching and learning in the developing world.
The project faced strong criticism since many human rights groups argued that third world countries don't have the infrastructure needed to support such a technology. It was good in theory, but not entirely practical.
What does "provenance not known" mean? It's on the label for this statue.
Provenance means the history of how this object came from its original location to its current location. Very often, museums have a record of original location found, and what the history of ownership is for each object, but sometimes this information is missing from the record. That's a great observation and a great question!
Oh, I see. Do we know whether this was originally freestanding or carved into a rock wall? I was also wondering about that
Also, whether it originally had a head?
It was probably part of a larger group statue which was freestanding, but placed next to a wall in a tomb. And it would definitely originally have had a head, headless statues were not a deliberate style in Ancient Egyptian statues. Which is interesting though considering modern sculpture. Rodin made bodies deliberately missing certain body parts, sometimes limbs, sometimes head, to concentrate on the shape and figure of a specific element of the human body. You'll notice some of his casts on your way out of the museum in the lobby!
I'll look for those! Thanks.
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

Our Second Floor galleries are currently closed for renovations.

Also on the Second Floor

Rest rooms are on the first, second, and third floors; those on the first and third floors are wheelchair accessible. The second-floor rest rooms can be reached only via the stairs from the Schapiro Wing on the third floor. Water fountains are near the first- and third-floor rest rooms.

Pick up Assistive Listening Devices at the Admissions Desk on the first floor.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Did Degas often paint portraits?
Although Degas is perhaps best known for his paintings of ballet dancers, he also painted many portraits during his career. In the mid-19th century, some artists began to change portraitures emphasis from social status to individual personality. These artists, including Degas, began to explore new ways of communicating the sitter's character to viewers. Do you feel like you can guess anything about this person from his portrait by Degas?
Is he a butcher?
That's a great guess, because of the two platters of meat, right? He may actually be an artist who painted still-lifes of food and then those plates would be his "props."
He looks awkward sitting like that. I guess that an artist would find it awkward to pose for someone.
Yes, he's kind of slumped, with his legs oddly bent like he's tired, or bored. If you look at some of the earlier portraits on that wall, you'll see how individuals were shown in more formal, "proper" poses. This was because the portraits were made to preserve their legacies and achievements and social status. Degas, on the other hand, is just interested in man as an individual with a personality.
It makes sense. For me a portrait would have to describe a picture of your present, but the present is not what is in front of you. The present is what makes you the person that you are at the moment.
You put that so well, and I agree! It's a "modern" way of thinking but it's true, we are all so much more than our facial features and our best set of clothing.
Maybe Degas wanted to portray a person through what we can't recognize at first.
Of course, I also enjoy very elegant traditional portraits but I find Degas's portraits so perceptive and moving. I hope you'll look up more of them online at some point! He looks deeper into the person, and he uses pictorial techniques like composition (especially unusual viewpoints and cropped edges), color palettes, and his handling of the paint to convey a feeling about that individual.
Can you provide a bigger picture of cats in Egyptian society please?
Many people think that cats themselves were worshipped as divine. This is untrue, the Egyptians respected aspects of cats and other animals and associated their attributes with the divine. Their depictions of half-human half-animal hybrids were more complicated, and show that certain gods had these types of traits.
Cats were revered because they were able to kill vermin (mice, rats etc) that would get into food supplies and since grain was so important to daily life and food cats were important too. Cats also were able to kill snakes like the cobra. The Goddess Bastet, who I mentioned earlier, was the goddess of Protection, fertility and motherhood, because cats (large and small) tend to have large litters and are very nurturing and protective of their kittens. Also, it's worth mentioning that cats were believed to be first domesticated in the region!
Thanks!
Would you be able to tell me more about this?
This is a wood sculpture, which is interesting because wood was extremely expensive and rare. Very little wood survives the test of time which is why most artifacts we see are made of stone but Egyptians regularly used wood.
The sculpture may have worn a jeweled collar, based on the markings around the neck. And the gem on top of its head is a representation of a scarab, an animal also important to the Egyptians. So, while sculptures of cats often show accessories on the cats, scholars aren't sure if actual cats wore any adornments.
Were some of them used as containers for mummified cats?
Yes! Some of them were, the picture you sent me however wasn't as its solid wood. Mummified cats were often offerings to the Goddess Bastet. Mummified cats may have been thought to still have protective qualities.
What was the significance of this crouching pose?
You may have read about it on the label but it was unusual to see a 3D mummified figure sitting this way and here, it may connect the goddess with the Netherworld.
Kneeling was regularly seen, as a pose of worship and giving offering and was placed in temples. But this figure is crouching more than kneeling, and seems to be holding something in its hands. The crouching stance is well known in 2-dimensional representations. Also the cat-like figure is meant to look mummified.
Egyptian art was about communication, and as such was standardized so it could be as clear as possible. We very rarely see a break in standard poses, or actions or ways of depicting a figure. So when we do it's unusual. The label offers some thoughts as to what this pose may mean however.
Thank you so much for your help!
Do you know anything about Jack Baur, the man in this Alice Neel painting?
Hi! John I. H. Baur directed the Brooklyn Museum’s Department of Painting and Sculpture from 1936 to 1952. He was a scholar and curator of American Art in particular. After working at this museum, he was a curator and the director of the Whitney Museum in Manhattan. She has shown him here in his suit -- ready for the business of art and museum work!
Baur and Neel were friends. He even gave a speech in her honor at a memorial service after her death.
Hi! We were surprised by the Squishmatician Calculator by Harry Allen in the case with dishes. Can you tell us more about that and the decision to put those objects in the same group on display?
When the American Art curator gave us a tour of these galleries, she reminded us that this calculator was really cutting-edge when it was first made. The clear silicone (the "squishy" plastic-like material) allows light to reach the solar-powered battery; plus, it's unbreakable if the calculator is dropped or crushed.
It also shows us exactly what's inside the object. Many of the objects in that case were innovative when they were first produced in their use of materials, or in their approach to shape/form. They're all everyday objects, too!
There are some other transparent objects nearby, as well including some glassware, and a chair by Louis Dierra.
We are looking for objects in the museum made in the Americas before 1776. Where should we go?
The first gallery after the entrance gallery in American Identities shows portraits and furniture from colonial America around and a little before that time period and you should absolutely see the Arts of the Americas exhibit, "Life, Death and Transformation".
Thank you! Are there objects from this period in Visible Storage?
Yes, definitely. Go to the back drawers and you'll see some great objects from the American collection, though I'm not sure what time periods you'll find.
Super. Thank you! My students are here trying to piece together colonial America through material culture. I've done the project several times and wanted to be sure I didn't miss anything new. Thank you for being amazing, BMA.
If you want to dig into some specific objects, the portrait of Mrs. Silvester Gardiner in that first gallery I mentioned might be interesting to look at. It was painted in 1772 and during the revolution, her husband tended to hurt British soldiers after the battle of Bunker Hill, and was quite vocal about his Tory views. They ended up sailing back to England in 1778.
You'll also notice that many of the portraits in that gallery have unusual styling, that is because many of the portrait artists in Colonial America were self-taught, often relying on reproduced prints of European artworks to train themselves.
They were really excited to find the Zuni necklace. And they were fascinated by the portraiture. Thank you!
You're very welcome. I hope you and your class will be able to visit again, too!
I'm curious if these statues have significance as religious objects or were just artistic objects created to sell (since kachinas are usually worn as costumes ceremonially).
Kachina dolls are used to teach children about religion in Zuni and Hopi Pueblo Native American culture. Kachinas are thought to embody the spirit of a living thing and when called upon, they will evoke the power of whatever spirit they represented, such as an eagle. They are also represented by men in costume during ceremonies and sacred dances, so that's another aspect of them. The dolls are not considered sacred and are given to children and young women during ceremonies so that they may learn about the religion.
Awesome, thank you!
No problem!
What is this?
This is the OLPC XO Laptop, which stands for One Laptop Per Child. This was a part of a project that intended to provide a laptop for every child for learning. It was a non-profit initiative taken to distribute technology to teaching and learning in the developing world.
The project faced strong criticism since many human rights groups argued that third world countries don't have the infrastructure needed to support such a technology. It was good in theory, but not entirely practical.
What does "provenance not known" mean? It's on the label for this statue.
Provenance means the history of how this object came from its original location to its current location. Very often, museums have a record of original location found, and what the history of ownership is for each object, but sometimes this information is missing from the record. That's a great observation and a great question!
Oh, I see. Do we know whether this was originally freestanding or carved into a rock wall? I was also wondering about that
Also, whether it originally had a head?
It was probably part of a larger group statue which was freestanding, but placed next to a wall in a tomb. And it would definitely originally have had a head, headless statues were not a deliberate style in Ancient Egyptian statues. Which is interesting though considering modern sculpture. Rodin made bodies deliberately missing certain body parts, sometimes limbs, sometimes head, to concentrate on the shape and figure of a specific element of the human body. You'll notice some of his casts on your way out of the museum in the lobby!
I'll look for those! Thanks.
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

Parking
Parking is available in the lot behind the Museum, off Washington Avenue. On Target First Saturdays, there's a flat rate of $6 starting at 5 p.m. Park your bicycle in the rack behind the building, next to our sculpture garden.

Shopping
Our Shop offers an eclectic mix of gifts, jewelry, books, clothing, crafts, and foods from around Brooklyn and around the world. Shop hours

Dining
Have small plates, dinner, or drinks at The Norm restaurant and bar, led by Michelin-starred Chef Saul Bolton. Or stop by the BKM Café or Bowl. Planning a group tour? Consider a catered lunch for your group.

Rest Rooms
Rest rooms are on the first and third floors (floor plan), are wheelchair accessible, and have baby-changing tables. A family rest room is located just off the main lobby.

Coat Check
A free coat check is available on the first floor, where you can leave any packages, large bags, umbrellas, or strollers.

Wheelchairs
Complimentary wheelchairs are available at the coat check on the first floor. Our entrances and rest rooms are wheelchair accessible. For more information, visit our Accessibility page.

Strollers
You're welcome to use strollers throughout the building (although from time to time there are certain areas where we might need to restrict their use, on account of small spaces, especially fragile art, or other circumstances). If necessary, leave your stroller at the coat check.

Wireless Access
We offer free wireless access throughout our galleries and grounds. During your visit, we encourage you to switch to wifi (BrooklynMuseum) for faster download speeds. The wireless project was created by the Brooklyn Museum Technology Department, with help from NYCWireless.

Go Mobile
Need information on the go? Planning your next visit? Access www.brooklynmuseum.org from your mobile phone to view our mobile-friendly website.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Did Degas often paint portraits?
Although Degas is perhaps best known for his paintings of ballet dancers, he also painted many portraits during his career. In the mid-19th century, some artists began to change portraitures emphasis from social status to individual personality. These artists, including Degas, began to explore new ways of communicating the sitter's character to viewers. Do you feel like you can guess anything about this person from his portrait by Degas?
Is he a butcher?
That's a great guess, because of the two platters of meat, right? He may actually be an artist who painted still-lifes of food and then those plates would be his "props."
He looks awkward sitting like that. I guess that an artist would find it awkward to pose for someone.
Yes, he's kind of slumped, with his legs oddly bent like he's tired, or bored. If you look at some of the earlier portraits on that wall, you'll see how individuals were shown in more formal, "proper" poses. This was because the portraits were made to preserve their legacies and achievements and social status. Degas, on the other hand, is just interested in man as an individual with a personality.
It makes sense. For me a portrait would have to describe a picture of your present, but the present is not what is in front of you. The present is what makes you the person that you are at the moment.
You put that so well, and I agree! It's a "modern" way of thinking but it's true, we are all so much more than our facial features and our best set of clothing.
Maybe Degas wanted to portray a person through what we can't recognize at first.
Of course, I also enjoy very elegant traditional portraits but I find Degas's portraits so perceptive and moving. I hope you'll look up more of them online at some point! He looks deeper into the person, and he uses pictorial techniques like composition (especially unusual viewpoints and cropped edges), color palettes, and his handling of the paint to convey a feeling about that individual.
Can you provide a bigger picture of cats in Egyptian society please?
Many people think that cats themselves were worshipped as divine. This is untrue, the Egyptians respected aspects of cats and other animals and associated their attributes with the divine. Their depictions of half-human half-animal hybrids were more complicated, and show that certain gods had these types of traits.
Cats were revered because they were able to kill vermin (mice, rats etc) that would get into food supplies and since grain was so important to daily life and food cats were important too. Cats also were able to kill snakes like the cobra. The Goddess Bastet, who I mentioned earlier, was the goddess of Protection, fertility and motherhood, because cats (large and small) tend to have large litters and are very nurturing and protective of their kittens. Also, it's worth mentioning that cats were believed to be first domesticated in the region!
Thanks!
Would you be able to tell me more about this?
This is a wood sculpture, which is interesting because wood was extremely expensive and rare. Very little wood survives the test of time which is why most artifacts we see are made of stone but Egyptians regularly used wood.
The sculpture may have worn a jeweled collar, based on the markings around the neck. And the gem on top of its head is a representation of a scarab, an animal also important to the Egyptians. So, while sculptures of cats often show accessories on the cats, scholars aren't sure if actual cats wore any adornments.
Were some of them used as containers for mummified cats?
Yes! Some of them were, the picture you sent me however wasn't as its solid wood. Mummified cats were often offerings to the Goddess Bastet. Mummified cats may have been thought to still have protective qualities.
What was the significance of this crouching pose?
You may have read about it on the label but it was unusual to see a 3D mummified figure sitting this way and here, it may connect the goddess with the Netherworld.
Kneeling was regularly seen, as a pose of worship and giving offering and was placed in temples. But this figure is crouching more than kneeling, and seems to be holding something in its hands. The crouching stance is well known in 2-dimensional representations. Also the cat-like figure is meant to look mummified.
Egyptian art was about communication, and as such was standardized so it could be as clear as possible. We very rarely see a break in standard poses, or actions or ways of depicting a figure. So when we do it's unusual. The label offers some thoughts as to what this pose may mean however.
Thank you so much for your help!
Do you know anything about Jack Baur, the man in this Alice Neel painting?
Hi! John I. H. Baur directed the Brooklyn Museum’s Department of Painting and Sculpture from 1936 to 1952. He was a scholar and curator of American Art in particular. After working at this museum, he was a curator and the director of the Whitney Museum in Manhattan. She has shown him here in his suit -- ready for the business of art and museum work!
Baur and Neel were friends. He even gave a speech in her honor at a memorial service after her death.
Hi! We were surprised by the Squishmatician Calculator by Harry Allen in the case with dishes. Can you tell us more about that and the decision to put those objects in the same group on display?
When the American Art curator gave us a tour of these galleries, she reminded us that this calculator was really cutting-edge when it was first made. The clear silicone (the "squishy" plastic-like material) allows light to reach the solar-powered battery; plus, it's unbreakable if the calculator is dropped or crushed.
It also shows us exactly what's inside the object. Many of the objects in that case were innovative when they were first produced in their use of materials, or in their approach to shape/form. They're all everyday objects, too!
There are some other transparent objects nearby, as well including some glassware, and a chair by Louis Dierra.
We are looking for objects in the museum made in the Americas before 1776. Where should we go?
The first gallery after the entrance gallery in American Identities shows portraits and furniture from colonial America around and a little before that time period and you should absolutely see the Arts of the Americas exhibit, "Life, Death and Transformation".
Thank you! Are there objects from this period in Visible Storage?
Yes, definitely. Go to the back drawers and you'll see some great objects from the American collection, though I'm not sure what time periods you'll find.
Super. Thank you! My students are here trying to piece together colonial America through material culture. I've done the project several times and wanted to be sure I didn't miss anything new. Thank you for being amazing, BMA.
If you want to dig into some specific objects, the portrait of Mrs. Silvester Gardiner in that first gallery I mentioned might be interesting to look at. It was painted in 1772 and during the revolution, her husband tended to hurt British soldiers after the battle of Bunker Hill, and was quite vocal about his Tory views. They ended up sailing back to England in 1778.
You'll also notice that many of the portraits in that gallery have unusual styling, that is because many of the portrait artists in Colonial America were self-taught, often relying on reproduced prints of European artworks to train themselves.
They were really excited to find the Zuni necklace. And they were fascinated by the portraiture. Thank you!
You're very welcome. I hope you and your class will be able to visit again, too!
I'm curious if these statues have significance as religious objects or were just artistic objects created to sell (since kachinas are usually worn as costumes ceremonially).
Kachina dolls are used to teach children about religion in Zuni and Hopi Pueblo Native American culture. Kachinas are thought to embody the spirit of a living thing and when called upon, they will evoke the power of whatever spirit they represented, such as an eagle. They are also represented by men in costume during ceremonies and sacred dances, so that's another aspect of them. The dolls are not considered sacred and are given to children and young women during ceremonies so that they may learn about the religion.
Awesome, thank you!
No problem!
What is this?
This is the OLPC XO Laptop, which stands for One Laptop Per Child. This was a part of a project that intended to provide a laptop for every child for learning. It was a non-profit initiative taken to distribute technology to teaching and learning in the developing world.
The project faced strong criticism since many human rights groups argued that third world countries don't have the infrastructure needed to support such a technology. It was good in theory, but not entirely practical.
What does "provenance not known" mean? It's on the label for this statue.
Provenance means the history of how this object came from its original location to its current location. Very often, museums have a record of original location found, and what the history of ownership is for each object, but sometimes this information is missing from the record. That's a great observation and a great question!
Oh, I see. Do we know whether this was originally freestanding or carved into a rock wall? I was also wondering about that
Also, whether it originally had a head?
It was probably part of a larger group statue which was freestanding, but placed next to a wall in a tomb. And it would definitely originally have had a head, headless statues were not a deliberate style in Ancient Egyptian statues. Which is interesting though considering modern sculpture. Rodin made bodies deliberately missing certain body parts, sometimes limbs, sometimes head, to concentrate on the shape and figure of a specific element of the human body. You'll notice some of his casts on your way out of the museum in the lobby!
I'll look for those! Thanks.
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

We're committed to making our galleries and facilities accessible to everyone.

  • We are fully wheelchair accessible. Check our online and printed floor plan for details.
  • If you need a wheelchair during your visit, they're available for free at the coat check in the lobby.
  • Companions of people with disabilities are admitted for free.
  • The parking lot behind the Museum is fully accessible. There's a free, 15-minute grace period for pickups and dropoffs.
  • If you need an assistive-listening device, they're available for free at our Admissions Desk, on the first floor.

We also offer a wide range of services for our visitors of all ages with special needs.

  • For those who have low or no vision, guided visits that include verbal descriptions can be scheduled for both adult and school groups, with advance notice. We also offer Sensory Tours, monthly public tours designed to accommodate and engage both sighted and non-sighted visitors. Verbal descriptions of collection highlights are available via Art Beyond Sight.
  • For those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, American Sign Language interpretation for both adult and school group tours can be arranged, with advance notice.
  • For those with intellectual disabilities or other special needs, we offer specially tailored guided gallery visits to adult and school groups.

We hope that you'll get in touch with us via email or at 718.501.6229 if you have questions about any of the above services, or if you'd like to make advance arrangements.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Did Degas often paint portraits?
Although Degas is perhaps best known for his paintings of ballet dancers, he also painted many portraits during his career. In the mid-19th century, some artists began to change portraitures emphasis from social status to individual personality. These artists, including Degas, began to explore new ways of communicating the sitter's character to viewers. Do you feel like you can guess anything about this person from his portrait by Degas?
Is he a butcher?
That's a great guess, because of the two platters of meat, right? He may actually be an artist who painted still-lifes of food and then those plates would be his "props."
He looks awkward sitting like that. I guess that an artist would find it awkward to pose for someone.
Yes, he's kind of slumped, with his legs oddly bent like he's tired, or bored. If you look at some of the earlier portraits on that wall, you'll see how individuals were shown in more formal, "proper" poses. This was because the portraits were made to preserve their legacies and achievements and social status. Degas, on the other hand, is just interested in man as an individual with a personality.
It makes sense. For me a portrait would have to describe a picture of your present, but the present is not what is in front of you. The present is what makes you the person that you are at the moment.
You put that so well, and I agree! It's a "modern" way of thinking but it's true, we are all so much more than our facial features and our best set of clothing.
Maybe Degas wanted to portray a person through what we can't recognize at first.
Of course, I also enjoy very elegant traditional portraits but I find Degas's portraits so perceptive and moving. I hope you'll look up more of them online at some point! He looks deeper into the person, and he uses pictorial techniques like composition (especially unusual viewpoints and cropped edges), color palettes, and his handling of the paint to convey a feeling about that individual.
Can you provide a bigger picture of cats in Egyptian society please?
Many people think that cats themselves were worshipped as divine. This is untrue, the Egyptians respected aspects of cats and other animals and associated their attributes with the divine. Their depictions of half-human half-animal hybrids were more complicated, and show that certain gods had these types of traits.
Cats were revered because they were able to kill vermin (mice, rats etc) that would get into food supplies and since grain was so important to daily life and food cats were important too. Cats also were able to kill snakes like the cobra. The Goddess Bastet, who I mentioned earlier, was the goddess of Protection, fertility and motherhood, because cats (large and small) tend to have large litters and are very nurturing and protective of their kittens. Also, it's worth mentioning that cats were believed to be first domesticated in the region!
Thanks!
Would you be able to tell me more about this?
This is a wood sculpture, which is interesting because wood was extremely expensive and rare. Very little wood survives the test of time which is why most artifacts we see are made of stone but Egyptians regularly used wood.
The sculpture may have worn a jeweled collar, based on the markings around the neck. And the gem on top of its head is a representation of a scarab, an animal also important to the Egyptians. So, while sculptures of cats often show accessories on the cats, scholars aren't sure if actual cats wore any adornments.
Were some of them used as containers for mummified cats?
Yes! Some of them were, the picture you sent me however wasn't as its solid wood. Mummified cats were often offerings to the Goddess Bastet. Mummified cats may have been thought to still have protective qualities.
What was the significance of this crouching pose?
You may have read about it on the label but it was unusual to see a 3D mummified figure sitting this way and here, it may connect the goddess with the Netherworld.
Kneeling was regularly seen, as a pose of worship and giving offering and was placed in temples. But this figure is crouching more than kneeling, and seems to be holding something in its hands. The crouching stance is well known in 2-dimensional representations. Also the cat-like figure is meant to look mummified.
Egyptian art was about communication, and as such was standardized so it could be as clear as possible. We very rarely see a break in standard poses, or actions or ways of depicting a figure. So when we do it's unusual. The label offers some thoughts as to what this pose may mean however.
Thank you so much for your help!
Do you know anything about Jack Baur, the man in this Alice Neel painting?
Hi! John I. H. Baur directed the Brooklyn Museum’s Department of Painting and Sculpture from 1936 to 1952. He was a scholar and curator of American Art in particular. After working at this museum, he was a curator and the director of the Whitney Museum in Manhattan. She has shown him here in his suit -- ready for the business of art and museum work!
Baur and Neel were friends. He even gave a speech in her honor at a memorial service after her death.
Hi! We were surprised by the Squishmatician Calculator by Harry Allen in the case with dishes. Can you tell us more about that and the decision to put those objects in the same group on display?
When the American Art curator gave us a tour of these galleries, she reminded us that this calculator was really cutting-edge when it was first made. The clear silicone (the "squishy" plastic-like material) allows light to reach the solar-powered battery; plus, it's unbreakable if the calculator is dropped or crushed.
It also shows us exactly what's inside the object. Many of the objects in that case were innovative when they were first produced in their use of materials, or in their approach to shape/form. They're all everyday objects, too!
There are some other transparent objects nearby, as well including some glassware, and a chair by Louis Dierra.
We are looking for objects in the museum made in the Americas before 1776. Where should we go?
The first gallery after the entrance gallery in American Identities shows portraits and furniture from colonial America around and a little before that time period and you should absolutely see the Arts of the Americas exhibit, "Life, Death and Transformation".
Thank you! Are there objects from this period in Visible Storage?
Yes, definitely. Go to the back drawers and you'll see some great objects from the American collection, though I'm not sure what time periods you'll find.
Super. Thank you! My students are here trying to piece together colonial America through material culture. I've done the project several times and wanted to be sure I didn't miss anything new. Thank you for being amazing, BMA.
If you want to dig into some specific objects, the portrait of Mrs. Silvester Gardiner in that first gallery I mentioned might be interesting to look at. It was painted in 1772 and during the revolution, her husband tended to hurt British soldiers after the battle of Bunker Hill, and was quite vocal about his Tory views. They ended up sailing back to England in 1778.
You'll also notice that many of the portraits in that gallery have unusual styling, that is because many of the portrait artists in Colonial America were self-taught, often relying on reproduced prints of European artworks to train themselves.
They were really excited to find the Zuni necklace. And they were fascinated by the portraiture. Thank you!
You're very welcome. I hope you and your class will be able to visit again, too!
I'm curious if these statues have significance as religious objects or were just artistic objects created to sell (since kachinas are usually worn as costumes ceremonially).
Kachina dolls are used to teach children about religion in Zuni and Hopi Pueblo Native American culture. Kachinas are thought to embody the spirit of a living thing and when called upon, they will evoke the power of whatever spirit they represented, such as an eagle. They are also represented by men in costume during ceremonies and sacred dances, so that's another aspect of them. The dolls are not considered sacred and are given to children and young women during ceremonies so that they may learn about the religion.
Awesome, thank you!
No problem!
What is this?
This is the OLPC XO Laptop, which stands for One Laptop Per Child. This was a part of a project that intended to provide a laptop for every child for learning. It was a non-profit initiative taken to distribute technology to teaching and learning in the developing world.
The project faced strong criticism since many human rights groups argued that third world countries don't have the infrastructure needed to support such a technology. It was good in theory, but not entirely practical.
What does "provenance not known" mean? It's on the label for this statue.
Provenance means the history of how this object came from its original location to its current location. Very often, museums have a record of original location found, and what the history of ownership is for each object, but sometimes this information is missing from the record. That's a great observation and a great question!
Oh, I see. Do we know whether this was originally freestanding or carved into a rock wall? I was also wondering about that
Also, whether it originally had a head?
It was probably part of a larger group statue which was freestanding, but placed next to a wall in a tomb. And it would definitely originally have had a head, headless statues were not a deliberate style in Ancient Egyptian statues. Which is interesting though considering modern sculpture. Rodin made bodies deliberately missing certain body parts, sometimes limbs, sometimes head, to concentrate on the shape and figure of a specific element of the human body. You'll notice some of his casts on your way out of the museum in the lobby!
I'll look for those! Thanks.
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

No matter what your interest, there's a tour for you:

  • Join our Museum Guides for daily public tours (free with admission) focusing on a variety of themes, eras, and movements in art.
  • Book a group tour for ten or more adults.
  • Explore tours and programs for school groups, all designed to help students and teachers construct meaningful experiences with works of art.
ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Did Degas often paint portraits?
Although Degas is perhaps best known for his paintings of ballet dancers, he also painted many portraits during his career. In the mid-19th century, some artists began to change portraitures emphasis from social status to individual personality. These artists, including Degas, began to explore new ways of communicating the sitter's character to viewers. Do you feel like you can guess anything about this person from his portrait by Degas?
Is he a butcher?
That's a great guess, because of the two platters of meat, right? He may actually be an artist who painted still-lifes of food and then those plates would be his "props."
He looks awkward sitting like that. I guess that an artist would find it awkward to pose for someone.
Yes, he's kind of slumped, with his legs oddly bent like he's tired, or bored. If you look at some of the earlier portraits on that wall, you'll see how individuals were shown in more formal, "proper" poses. This was because the portraits were made to preserve their legacies and achievements and social status. Degas, on the other hand, is just interested in man as an individual with a personality.
It makes sense. For me a portrait would have to describe a picture of your present, but the present is not what is in front of you. The present is what makes you the person that you are at the moment.
You put that so well, and I agree! It's a "modern" way of thinking but it's true, we are all so much more than our facial features and our best set of clothing.
Maybe Degas wanted to portray a person through what we can't recognize at first.
Of course, I also enjoy very elegant traditional portraits but I find Degas's portraits so perceptive and moving. I hope you'll look up more of them online at some point! He looks deeper into the person, and he uses pictorial techniques like composition (especially unusual viewpoints and cropped edges), color palettes, and his handling of the paint to convey a feeling about that individual.
Can you provide a bigger picture of cats in Egyptian society please?
Many people think that cats themselves were worshipped as divine. This is untrue, the Egyptians respected aspects of cats and other animals and associated their attributes with the divine. Their depictions of half-human half-animal hybrids were more complicated, and show that certain gods had these types of traits.
Cats were revered because they were able to kill vermin (mice, rats etc) that would get into food supplies and since grain was so important to daily life and food cats were important too. Cats also were able to kill snakes like the cobra. The Goddess Bastet, who I mentioned earlier, was the goddess of Protection, fertility and motherhood, because cats (large and small) tend to have large litters and are very nurturing and protective of their kittens. Also, it's worth mentioning that cats were believed to be first domesticated in the region!
Thanks!
Would you be able to tell me more about this?
This is a wood sculpture, which is interesting because wood was extremely expensive and rare. Very little wood survives the test of time which is why most artifacts we see are made of stone but Egyptians regularly used wood.
The sculpture may have worn a jeweled collar, based on the markings around the neck. And the gem on top of its head is a representation of a scarab, an animal also important to the Egyptians. So, while sculptures of cats often show accessories on the cats, scholars aren't sure if actual cats wore any adornments.
Were some of them used as containers for mummified cats?
Yes! Some of them were, the picture you sent me however wasn't as its solid wood. Mummified cats were often offerings to the Goddess Bastet. Mummified cats may have been thought to still have protective qualities.
What was the significance of this crouching pose?
You may have read about it on the label but it was unusual to see a 3D mummified figure sitting this way and here, it may connect the goddess with the Netherworld.
Kneeling was regularly seen, as a pose of worship and giving offering and was placed in temples. But this figure is crouching more than kneeling, and seems to be holding something in its hands. The crouching stance is well known in 2-dimensional representations. Also the cat-like figure is meant to look mummified.
Egyptian art was about communication, and as such was standardized so it could be as clear as possible. We very rarely see a break in standard poses, or actions or ways of depicting a figure. So when we do it's unusual. The label offers some thoughts as to what this pose may mean however.
Thank you so much for your help!
Do you know anything about Jack Baur, the man in this Alice Neel painting?
Hi! John I. H. Baur directed the Brooklyn Museum’s Department of Painting and Sculpture from 1936 to 1952. He was a scholar and curator of American Art in particular. After working at this museum, he was a curator and the director of the Whitney Museum in Manhattan. She has shown him here in his suit -- ready for the business of art and museum work!
Baur and Neel were friends. He even gave a speech in her honor at a memorial service after her death.
Hi! We were surprised by the Squishmatician Calculator by Harry Allen in the case with dishes. Can you tell us more about that and the decision to put those objects in the same group on display?
When the American Art curator gave us a tour of these galleries, she reminded us that this calculator was really cutting-edge when it was first made. The clear silicone (the "squishy" plastic-like material) allows light to reach the solar-powered battery; plus, it's unbreakable if the calculator is dropped or crushed.
It also shows us exactly what's inside the object. Many of the objects in that case were innovative when they were first produced in their use of materials, or in their approach to shape/form. They're all everyday objects, too!
There are some other transparent objects nearby, as well including some glassware, and a chair by Louis Dierra.
We are looking for objects in the museum made in the Americas before 1776. Where should we go?
The first gallery after the entrance gallery in American Identities shows portraits and furniture from colonial America around and a little before that time period and you should absolutely see the Arts of the Americas exhibit, "Life, Death and Transformation".
Thank you! Are there objects from this period in Visible Storage?
Yes, definitely. Go to the back drawers and you'll see some great objects from the American collection, though I'm not sure what time periods you'll find.
Super. Thank you! My students are here trying to piece together colonial America through material culture. I've done the project several times and wanted to be sure I didn't miss anything new. Thank you for being amazing, BMA.
If you want to dig into some specific objects, the portrait of Mrs. Silvester Gardiner in that first gallery I mentioned might be interesting to look at. It was painted in 1772 and during the revolution, her husband tended to hurt British soldiers after the battle of Bunker Hill, and was quite vocal about his Tory views. They ended up sailing back to England in 1778.
You'll also notice that many of the portraits in that gallery have unusual styling, that is because many of the portrait artists in Colonial America were self-taught, often relying on reproduced prints of European artworks to train themselves.
They were really excited to find the Zuni necklace. And they were fascinated by the portraiture. Thank you!
You're very welcome. I hope you and your class will be able to visit again, too!
I'm curious if these statues have significance as religious objects or were just artistic objects created to sell (since kachinas are usually worn as costumes ceremonially).
Kachina dolls are used to teach children about religion in Zuni and Hopi Pueblo Native American culture. Kachinas are thought to embody the spirit of a living thing and when called upon, they will evoke the power of whatever spirit they represented, such as an eagle. They are also represented by men in costume during ceremonies and sacred dances, so that's another aspect of them. The dolls are not considered sacred and are given to children and young women during ceremonies so that they may learn about the religion.
Awesome, thank you!
No problem!
What is this?
This is the OLPC XO Laptop, which stands for One Laptop Per Child. This was a part of a project that intended to provide a laptop for every child for learning. It was a non-profit initiative taken to distribute technology to teaching and learning in the developing world.
The project faced strong criticism since many human rights groups argued that third world countries don't have the infrastructure needed to support such a technology. It was good in theory, but not entirely practical.
What does "provenance not known" mean? It's on the label for this statue.
Provenance means the history of how this object came from its original location to its current location. Very often, museums have a record of original location found, and what the history of ownership is for each object, but sometimes this information is missing from the record. That's a great observation and a great question!
Oh, I see. Do we know whether this was originally freestanding or carved into a rock wall? I was also wondering about that
Also, whether it originally had a head?
It was probably part of a larger group statue which was freestanding, but placed next to a wall in a tomb. And it would definitely originally have had a head, headless statues were not a deliberate style in Ancient Egyptian statues. Which is interesting though considering modern sculpture. Rodin made bodies deliberately missing certain body parts, sometimes limbs, sometimes head, to concentrate on the shape and figure of a specific element of the human body. You'll notice some of his casts on your way out of the museum in the lobby!
I'll look for those! Thanks.
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

Exhibitions on the First Floor

Also on the First Floor

  • Admissions Desk
  • Museum Shop
  • Dining (The Norm restaurant and bar; BKM Café and Bowl)

Rest rooms are on the first, second, and third floors; those on the first and third floors are wheelchair accessible. The second-floor rest rooms can be reached only via the stairs from the Schapiro Wing on the third floor. Water fountains are near the first- and third-floor rest rooms.

Pick up Assistive Listening Devices at the Admissions Desk.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Did Degas often paint portraits?
Although Degas is perhaps best known for his paintings of ballet dancers, he also painted many portraits during his career. In the mid-19th century, some artists began to change portraitures emphasis from social status to individual personality. These artists, including Degas, began to explore new ways of communicating the sitter's character to viewers. Do you feel like you can guess anything about this person from his portrait by Degas?
Is he a butcher?
That's a great guess, because of the two platters of meat, right? He may actually be an artist who painted still-lifes of food and then those plates would be his "props."
He looks awkward sitting like that. I guess that an artist would find it awkward to pose for someone.
Yes, he's kind of slumped, with his legs oddly bent like he's tired, or bored. If you look at some of the earlier portraits on that wall, you'll see how individuals were shown in more formal, "proper" poses. This was because the portraits were made to preserve their legacies and achievements and social status. Degas, on the other hand, is just interested in man as an individual with a personality.
It makes sense. For me a portrait would have to describe a picture of your present, but the present is not what is in front of you. The present is what makes you the person that you are at the moment.
You put that so well, and I agree! It's a "modern" way of thinking but it's true, we are all so much more than our facial features and our best set of clothing.
Maybe Degas wanted to portray a person through what we can't recognize at first.
Of course, I also enjoy very elegant traditional portraits but I find Degas's portraits so perceptive and moving. I hope you'll look up more of them online at some point! He looks deeper into the person, and he uses pictorial techniques like composition (especially unusual viewpoints and cropped edges), color palettes, and his handling of the paint to convey a feeling about that individual.
Can you provide a bigger picture of cats in Egyptian society please?
Many people think that cats themselves were worshipped as divine. This is untrue, the Egyptians respected aspects of cats and other animals and associated their attributes with the divine. Their depictions of half-human half-animal hybrids were more complicated, and show that certain gods had these types of traits.
Cats were revered because they were able to kill vermin (mice, rats etc) that would get into food supplies and since grain was so important to daily life and food cats were important too. Cats also were able to kill snakes like the cobra. The Goddess Bastet, who I mentioned earlier, was the goddess of Protection, fertility and motherhood, because cats (large and small) tend to have large litters and are very nurturing and protective of their kittens. Also, it's worth mentioning that cats were believed to be first domesticated in the region!
Thanks!
Would you be able to tell me more about this?
This is a wood sculpture, which is interesting because wood was extremely expensive and rare. Very little wood survives the test of time which is why most artifacts we see are made of stone but Egyptians regularly used wood.
The sculpture may have worn a jeweled collar, based on the markings around the neck. And the gem on top of its head is a representation of a scarab, an animal also important to the Egyptians. So, while sculptures of cats often show accessories on the cats, scholars aren't sure if actual cats wore any adornments.
Were some of them used as containers for mummified cats?
Yes! Some of them were, the picture you sent me however wasn't as its solid wood. Mummified cats were often offerings to the Goddess Bastet. Mummified cats may have been thought to still have protective qualities.
What was the significance of this crouching pose?
You may have read about it on the label but it was unusual to see a 3D mummified figure sitting this way and here, it may connect the goddess with the Netherworld.
Kneeling was regularly seen, as a pose of worship and giving offering and was placed in temples. But this figure is crouching more than kneeling, and seems to be holding something in its hands. The crouching stance is well known in 2-dimensional representations. Also the cat-like figure is meant to look mummified.
Egyptian art was about communication, and as such was standardized so it could be as clear as possible. We very rarely see a break in standard poses, or actions or ways of depicting a figure. So when we do it's unusual. The label offers some thoughts as to what this pose may mean however.
Thank you so much for your help!
Do you know anything about Jack Baur, the man in this Alice Neel painting?
Hi! John I. H. Baur directed the Brooklyn Museum’s Department of Painting and Sculpture from 1936 to 1952. He was a scholar and curator of American Art in particular. After working at this museum, he was a curator and the director of the Whitney Museum in Manhattan. She has shown him here in his suit -- ready for the business of art and museum work!
Baur and Neel were friends. He even gave a speech in her honor at a memorial service after her death.
Hi! We were surprised by the Squishmatician Calculator by Harry Allen in the case with dishes. Can you tell us more about that and the decision to put those objects in the same group on display?
When the American Art curator gave us a tour of these galleries, she reminded us that this calculator was really cutting-edge when it was first made. The clear silicone (the "squishy" plastic-like material) allows light to reach the solar-powered battery; plus, it's unbreakable if the calculator is dropped or crushed.
It also shows us exactly what's inside the object. Many of the objects in that case were innovative when they were first produced in their use of materials, or in their approach to shape/form. They're all everyday objects, too!
There are some other transparent objects nearby, as well including some glassware, and a chair by Louis Dierra.
We are looking for objects in the museum made in the Americas before 1776. Where should we go?
The first gallery after the entrance gallery in American Identities shows portraits and furniture from colonial America around and a little before that time period and you should absolutely see the Arts of the Americas exhibit, "Life, Death and Transformation".
Thank you! Are there objects from this period in Visible Storage?
Yes, definitely. Go to the back drawers and you'll see some great objects from the American collection, though I'm not sure what time periods you'll find.
Super. Thank you! My students are here trying to piece together colonial America through material culture. I've done the project several times and wanted to be sure I didn't miss anything new. Thank you for being amazing, BMA.
If you want to dig into some specific objects, the portrait of Mrs. Silvester Gardiner in that first gallery I mentioned might be interesting to look at. It was painted in 1772 and during the revolution, her husband tended to hurt British soldiers after the battle of Bunker Hill, and was quite vocal about his Tory views. They ended up sailing back to England in 1778.
You'll also notice that many of the portraits in that gallery have unusual styling, that is because many of the portrait artists in Colonial America were self-taught, often relying on reproduced prints of European artworks to train themselves.
They were really excited to find the Zuni necklace. And they were fascinated by the portraiture. Thank you!
You're very welcome. I hope you and your class will be able to visit again, too!
I'm curious if these statues have significance as religious objects or were just artistic objects created to sell (since kachinas are usually worn as costumes ceremonially).
Kachina dolls are used to teach children about religion in Zuni and Hopi Pueblo Native American culture. Kachinas are thought to embody the spirit of a living thing and when called upon, they will evoke the power of whatever spirit they represented, such as an eagle. They are also represented by men in costume during ceremonies and sacred dances, so that's another aspect of them. The dolls are not considered sacred and are given to children and young women during ceremonies so that they may learn about the religion.
Awesome, thank you!
No problem!
What is this?
This is the OLPC XO Laptop, which stands for One Laptop Per Child. This was a part of a project that intended to provide a laptop for every child for learning. It was a non-profit initiative taken to distribute technology to teaching and learning in the developing world.
The project faced strong criticism since many human rights groups argued that third world countries don't have the infrastructure needed to support such a technology. It was good in theory, but not entirely practical.
What does "provenance not known" mean? It's on the label for this statue.
Provenance means the history of how this object came from its original location to its current location. Very often, museums have a record of original location found, and what the history of ownership is for each object, but sometimes this information is missing from the record. That's a great observation and a great question!
Oh, I see. Do we know whether this was originally freestanding or carved into a rock wall? I was also wondering about that
Also, whether it originally had a head?
It was probably part of a larger group statue which was freestanding, but placed next to a wall in a tomb. And it would definitely originally have had a head, headless statues were not a deliberate style in Ancient Egyptian statues. Which is interesting though considering modern sculpture. Rodin made bodies deliberately missing certain body parts, sometimes limbs, sometimes head, to concentrate on the shape and figure of a specific element of the human body. You'll notice some of his casts on your way out of the museum in the lobby!
I'll look for those! Thanks.
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Did Degas often paint portraits?
Although Degas is perhaps best known for his paintings of ballet dancers, he also painted many portraits during his career. In the mid-19th century, some artists began to change portraitures emphasis from social status to individual personality. These artists, including Degas, began to explore new ways of communicating the sitter's character to viewers. Do you feel like you can guess anything about this person from his portrait by Degas?
Is he a butcher?
That's a great guess, because of the two platters of meat, right? He may actually be an artist who painted still-lifes of food and then those plates would be his "props."
He looks awkward sitting like that. I guess that an artist would find it awkward to pose for someone.
Yes, he's kind of slumped, with his legs oddly bent like he's tired, or bored. If you look at some of the earlier portraits on that wall, you'll see how individuals were shown in more formal, "proper" poses. This was because the portraits were made to preserve their legacies and achievements and social status. Degas, on the other hand, is just interested in man as an individual with a personality.
It makes sense. For me a portrait would have to describe a picture of your present, but the present is not what is in front of you. The present is what makes you the person that you are at the moment.
You put that so well, and I agree! It's a "modern" way of thinking but it's true, we are all so much more than our facial features and our best set of clothing.
Maybe Degas wanted to portray a person through what we can't recognize at first.
Of course, I also enjoy very elegant traditional portraits but I find Degas's portraits so perceptive and moving. I hope you'll look up more of them online at some point! He looks deeper into the person, and he uses pictorial techniques like composition (especially unusual viewpoints and cropped edges), color palettes, and his handling of the paint to convey a feeling about that individual.
Can you provide a bigger picture of cats in Egyptian society please?
Many people think that cats themselves were worshipped as divine. This is untrue, the Egyptians respected aspects of cats and other animals and associated their attributes with the divine. Their depictions of half-human half-animal hybrids were more complicated, and show that certain gods had these types of traits.
Cats were revered because they were able to kill vermin (mice, rats etc) that would get into food supplies and since grain was so important to daily life and food cats were important too. Cats also were able to kill snakes like the cobra. The Goddess Bastet, who I mentioned earlier, was the goddess of Protection, fertility and motherhood, because cats (large and small) tend to have large litters and are very nurturing and protective of their kittens. Also, it's worth mentioning that cats were believed to be first domesticated in the region!
Thanks!
Would you be able to tell me more about this?
This is a wood sculpture, which is interesting because wood was extremely expensive and rare. Very little wood survives the test of time which is why most artifacts we see are made of stone but Egyptians regularly used wood.
The sculpture may have worn a jeweled collar, based on the markings around the neck. And the gem on top of its head is a representation of a scarab, an animal also important to the Egyptians. So, while sculptures of cats often show accessories on the cats, scholars aren't sure if actual cats wore any adornments.
Were some of them used as containers for mummified cats?
Yes! Some of them were, the picture you sent me however wasn't as its solid wood. Mummified cats were often offerings to the Goddess Bastet. Mummified cats may have been thought to still have protective qualities.
What was the significance of this crouching pose?
You may have read about it on the label but it was unusual to see a 3D mummified figure sitting this way and here, it may connect the goddess with the Netherworld.
Kneeling was regularly seen, as a pose of worship and giving offering and was placed in temples. But this figure is crouching more than kneeling, and seems to be holding something in its hands. The crouching stance is well known in 2-dimensional representations. Also the cat-like figure is meant to look mummified.
Egyptian art was about communication, and as such was standardized so it could be as clear as possible. We very rarely see a break in standard poses, or actions or ways of depicting a figure. So when we do it's unusual. The label offers some thoughts as to what this pose may mean however.
Thank you so much for your help!
Do you know anything about Jack Baur, the man in this Alice Neel painting?
Hi! John I. H. Baur directed the Brooklyn Museum’s Department of Painting and Sculpture from 1936 to 1952. He was a scholar and curator of American Art in particular. After working at this museum, he was a curator and the director of the Whitney Museum in Manhattan. She has shown him here in his suit -- ready for the business of art and museum work!
Baur and Neel were friends. He even gave a speech in her honor at a memorial service after her death.
Hi! We were surprised by the Squishmatician Calculator by Harry Allen in the case with dishes. Can you tell us more about that and the decision to put those objects in the same group on display?
When the American Art curator gave us a tour of these galleries, she reminded us that this calculator was really cutting-edge when it was first made. The clear silicone (the "squishy" plastic-like material) allows light to reach the solar-powered battery; plus, it's unbreakable if the calculator is dropped or crushed.
It also shows us exactly what's inside the object. Many of the objects in that case were innovative when they were first produced in their use of materials, or in their approach to shape/form. They're all everyday objects, too!
There are some other transparent objects nearby, as well including some glassware, and a chair by Louis Dierra.
We are looking for objects in the museum made in the Americas before 1776. Where should we go?
The first gallery after the entrance gallery in American Identities shows portraits and furniture from colonial America around and a little before that time period and you should absolutely see the Arts of the Americas exhibit, "Life, Death and Transformation".
Thank you! Are there objects from this period in Visible Storage?
Yes, definitely. Go to the back drawers and you'll see some great objects from the American collection, though I'm not sure what time periods you'll find.
Super. Thank you! My students are here trying to piece together colonial America through material culture. I've done the project several times and wanted to be sure I didn't miss anything new. Thank you for being amazing, BMA.
If you want to dig into some specific objects, the portrait of Mrs. Silvester Gardiner in that first gallery I mentioned might be interesting to look at. It was painted in 1772 and during the revolution, her husband tended to hurt British soldiers after the battle of Bunker Hill, and was quite vocal about his Tory views. They ended up sailing back to England in 1778.
You'll also notice that many of the portraits in that gallery have unusual styling, that is because many of the portrait artists in Colonial America were self-taught, often relying on reproduced prints of European artworks to train themselves.
They were really excited to find the Zuni necklace. And they were fascinated by the portraiture. Thank you!
You're very welcome. I hope you and your class will be able to visit again, too!
I'm curious if these statues have significance as religious objects or were just artistic objects created to sell (since kachinas are usually worn as costumes ceremonially).
Kachina dolls are used to teach children about religion in Zuni and Hopi Pueblo Native American culture. Kachinas are thought to embody the spirit of a living thing and when called upon, they will evoke the power of whatever spirit they represented, such as an eagle. They are also represented by men in costume during ceremonies and sacred dances, so that's another aspect of them. The dolls are not considered sacred and are given to children and young women during ceremonies so that they may learn about the religion.
Awesome, thank you!
No problem!
What is this?
This is the OLPC XO Laptop, which stands for One Laptop Per Child. This was a part of a project that intended to provide a laptop for every child for learning. It was a non-profit initiative taken to distribute technology to teaching and learning in the developing world.
The project faced strong criticism since many human rights groups argued that third world countries don't have the infrastructure needed to support such a technology. It was good in theory, but not entirely practical.
What does "provenance not known" mean? It's on the label for this statue.
Provenance means the history of how this object came from its original location to its current location. Very often, museums have a record of original location found, and what the history of ownership is for each object, but sometimes this information is missing from the record. That's a great observation and a great question!
Oh, I see. Do we know whether this was originally freestanding or carved into a rock wall? I was also wondering about that
Also, whether it originally had a head?
It was probably part of a larger group statue which was freestanding, but placed next to a wall in a tomb. And it would definitely originally have had a head, headless statues were not a deliberate style in Ancient Egyptian statues. Which is interesting though considering modern sculpture. Rodin made bodies deliberately missing certain body parts, sometimes limbs, sometimes head, to concentrate on the shape and figure of a specific element of the human body. You'll notice some of his casts on your way out of the museum in the lobby!
I'll look for those! Thanks.
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

By Subway

2/3 to Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum. Transfer to 2/3 from 4/5 (at Nevins Street) and B, D, Q, N, R, and LIRR (at Atlantic Terminal-Barclays Center). See a subway map. Make sure to check with the MTA for any service changes, especially on the weekend.


By Bus

The closest bus stops are:

B41 and B69 at Grand Army Plaza

B45 at St. Johns Place and Washington Avenue

Check with the MTA for the most up-to-date bus information.


By Car

From Manhattan:

Brooklyn Bridge; left at Tillary Street; right on Flatbush Avenue for about 1.5 miles to Grand Army Plaza; about 2/3 around Plaza; right on Eastern Parkway. We're at the first intersection (Eastern Parkway and Washington Avenue). Or: Manhattan Bridge enters directly onto Flatbush Avenue.

From Westchester, the Bronx, Queens, or Connecticut:

Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (Triborough) to Brooklyn Queens Express (BQE); Manhattan Bridge exit to Tillary Street; left onto Flatbush Avenue and proceed according to the directions from Manhattan.

From Staten Island and southern or central New Jersey:

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to Gowanus Expressway (Route 278 towards Manhattan); exit to 38th Street; left on Fourth Avenue for about 2 miles; right on Union Street; 5 blocks to Grand Army Plaza; go 1/2 around Plaza; right on Eastern Parkway. We're at first intersection (Eastern Parkway and Washington Avenue).

From northern or north central New Jersey:

George Washington Bridge/Holland or Lincoln Tunnel to Manhattan; follow directions from Manhattan.

From Long Island:

Grand Central Parkway to Jackie Robinson Parkway; exit at Bushwick Avenue; left at third traffic light to Eastern Parkway; about 3 miles to Washington Avenue. We're across intersection at left.


Parking

On-site parking is available in the lot behind the Museum, off Washington Avenue. On Target First Saturdays there's a flat rate of $5 beginning at 5 p.m.


Bikes

Park your bicycle at the racks behind the Museum, next to the Sculpture Garden. Bikes are parked at your own risk; we don't accept responsibility for vandalism or theft.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Did Degas often paint portraits?
Although Degas is perhaps best known for his paintings of ballet dancers, he also painted many portraits during his career. In the mid-19th century, some artists began to change portraitures emphasis from social status to individual personality. These artists, including Degas, began to explore new ways of communicating the sitter's character to viewers. Do you feel like you can guess anything about this person from his portrait by Degas?
Is he a butcher?
That's a great guess, because of the two platters of meat, right? He may actually be an artist who painted still-lifes of food and then those plates would be his "props."
He looks awkward sitting like that. I guess that an artist would find it awkward to pose for someone.
Yes, he's kind of slumped, with his legs oddly bent like he's tired, or bored. If you look at some of the earlier portraits on that wall, you'll see how individuals were shown in more formal, "proper" poses. This was because the portraits were made to preserve their legacies and achievements and social status. Degas, on the other hand, is just interested in man as an individual with a personality.
It makes sense. For me a portrait would have to describe a picture of your present, but the present is not what is in front of you. The present is what makes you the person that you are at the moment.
You put that so well, and I agree! It's a "modern" way of thinking but it's true, we are all so much more than our facial features and our best set of clothing.
Maybe Degas wanted to portray a person through what we can't recognize at first.
Of course, I also enjoy very elegant traditional portraits but I find Degas's portraits so perceptive and moving. I hope you'll look up more of them online at some point! He looks deeper into the person, and he uses pictorial techniques like composition (especially unusual viewpoints and cropped edges), color palettes, and his handling of the paint to convey a feeling about that individual.
Can you provide a bigger picture of cats in Egyptian society please?
Many people think that cats themselves were worshipped as divine. This is untrue, the Egyptians respected aspects of cats and other animals and associated their attributes with the divine. Their depictions of half-human half-animal hybrids were more complicated, and show that certain gods had these types of traits.
Cats were revered because they were able to kill vermin (mice, rats etc) that would get into food supplies and since grain was so important to daily life and food cats were important too. Cats also were able to kill snakes like the cobra. The Goddess Bastet, who I mentioned earlier, was the goddess of Protection, fertility and motherhood, because cats (large and small) tend to have large litters and are very nurturing and protective of their kittens. Also, it's worth mentioning that cats were believed to be first domesticated in the region!
Thanks!
Would you be able to tell me more about this?
This is a wood sculpture, which is interesting because wood was extremely expensive and rare. Very little wood survives the test of time which is why most artifacts we see are made of stone but Egyptians regularly used wood.
The sculpture may have worn a jeweled collar, based on the markings around the neck. And the gem on top of its head is a representation of a scarab, an animal also important to the Egyptians. So, while sculptures of cats often show accessories on the cats, scholars aren't sure if actual cats wore any adornments.
Were some of them used as containers for mummified cats?
Yes! Some of them were, the picture you sent me however wasn't as its solid wood. Mummified cats were often offerings to the Goddess Bastet. Mummified cats may have been thought to still have protective qualities.
What was the significance of this crouching pose?
You may have read about it on the label but it was unusual to see a 3D mummified figure sitting this way and here, it may connect the goddess with the Netherworld.
Kneeling was regularly seen, as a pose of worship and giving offering and was placed in temples. But this figure is crouching more than kneeling, and seems to be holding something in its hands. The crouching stance is well known in 2-dimensional representations. Also the cat-like figure is meant to look mummified.
Egyptian art was about communication, and as such was standardized so it could be as clear as possible. We very rarely see a break in standard poses, or actions or ways of depicting a figure. So when we do it's unusual. The label offers some thoughts as to what this pose may mean however.
Thank you so much for your help!
Do you know anything about Jack Baur, the man in this Alice Neel painting?
Hi! John I. H. Baur directed the Brooklyn Museum’s Department of Painting and Sculpture from 1936 to 1952. He was a scholar and curator of American Art in particular. After working at this museum, he was a curator and the director of the Whitney Museum in Manhattan. She has shown him here in his suit -- ready for the business of art and museum work!
Baur and Neel were friends. He even gave a speech in her honor at a memorial service after her death.
Hi! We were surprised by the Squishmatician Calculator by Harry Allen in the case with dishes. Can you tell us more about that and the decision to put those objects in the same group on display?
When the American Art curator gave us a tour of these galleries, she reminded us that this calculator was really cutting-edge when it was first made. The clear silicone (the "squishy" plastic-like material) allows light to reach the solar-powered battery; plus, it's unbreakable if the calculator is dropped or crushed.
It also shows us exactly what's inside the object. Many of the objects in that case were innovative when they were first produced in their use of materials, or in their approach to shape/form. They're all everyday objects, too!
There are some other transparent objects nearby, as well including some glassware, and a chair by Louis Dierra.
We are looking for objects in the museum made in the Americas before 1776. Where should we go?
The first gallery after the entrance gallery in American Identities shows portraits and furniture from colonial America around and a little before that time period and you should absolutely see the Arts of the Americas exhibit, "Life, Death and Transformation".
Thank you! Are there objects from this period in Visible Storage?
Yes, definitely. Go to the back drawers and you'll see some great objects from the American collection, though I'm not sure what time periods you'll find.
Super. Thank you! My students are here trying to piece together colonial America through material culture. I've done the project several times and wanted to be sure I didn't miss anything new. Thank you for being amazing, BMA.
If you want to dig into some specific objects, the portrait of Mrs. Silvester Gardiner in that first gallery I mentioned might be interesting to look at. It was painted in 1772 and during the revolution, her husband tended to hurt British soldiers after the battle of Bunker Hill, and was quite vocal about his Tory views. They ended up sailing back to England in 1778.
You'll also notice that many of the portraits in that gallery have unusual styling, that is because many of the portrait artists in Colonial America were self-taught, often relying on reproduced prints of European artworks to train themselves.
They were really excited to find the Zuni necklace. And they were fascinated by the portraiture. Thank you!
You're very welcome. I hope you and your class will be able to visit again, too!
I'm curious if these statues have significance as religious objects or were just artistic objects created to sell (since kachinas are usually worn as costumes ceremonially).
Kachina dolls are used to teach children about religion in Zuni and Hopi Pueblo Native American culture. Kachinas are thought to embody the spirit of a living thing and when called upon, they will evoke the power of whatever spirit they represented, such as an eagle. They are also represented by men in costume during ceremonies and sacred dances, so that's another aspect of them. The dolls are not considered sacred and are given to children and young women during ceremonies so that they may learn about the religion.
Awesome, thank you!
No problem!
What is this?
This is the OLPC XO Laptop, which stands for One Laptop Per Child. This was a part of a project that intended to provide a laptop for every child for learning. It was a non-profit initiative taken to distribute technology to teaching and learning in the developing world.
The project faced strong criticism since many human rights groups argued that third world countries don't have the infrastructure needed to support such a technology. It was good in theory, but not entirely practical.
What does "provenance not known" mean? It's on the label for this statue.
Provenance means the history of how this object came from its original location to its current location. Very often, museums have a record of original location found, and what the history of ownership is for each object, but sometimes this information is missing from the record. That's a great observation and a great question!
Oh, I see. Do we know whether this was originally freestanding or carved into a rock wall? I was also wondering about that
Also, whether it originally had a head?
It was probably part of a larger group statue which was freestanding, but placed next to a wall in a tomb. And it would definitely originally have had a head, headless statues were not a deliberate style in Ancient Egyptian statues. Which is interesting though considering modern sculpture. Rodin made bodies deliberately missing certain body parts, sometimes limbs, sometimes head, to concentrate on the shape and figure of a specific element of the human body. You'll notice some of his casts on your way out of the museum in the lobby!
I'll look for those! Thanks.
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Did Degas often paint portraits?
Although Degas is perhaps best known for his paintings of ballet dancers, he also painted many portraits during his career. In the mid-19th century, some artists began to change portraitures emphasis from social status to individual personality. These artists, including Degas, began to explore new ways of communicating the sitter's character to viewers. Do you feel like you can guess anything about this person from his portrait by Degas?
Is he a butcher?
That's a great guess, because of the two platters of meat, right? He may actually be an artist who painted still-lifes of food and then those plates would be his "props."
He looks awkward sitting like that. I guess that an artist would find it awkward to pose for someone.
Yes, he's kind of slumped, with his legs oddly bent like he's tired, or bored. If you look at some of the earlier portraits on that wall, you'll see how individuals were shown in more formal, "proper" poses. This was because the portraits were made to preserve their legacies and achievements and social status. Degas, on the other hand, is just interested in man as an individual with a personality.
It makes sense. For me a portrait would have to describe a picture of your present, but the present is not what is in front of you. The present is what makes you the person that you are at the moment.
You put that so well, and I agree! It's a "modern" way of thinking but it's true, we are all so much more than our facial features and our best set of clothing.
Maybe Degas wanted to portray a person through what we can't recognize at first.
Of course, I also enjoy very elegant traditional portraits but I find Degas's portraits so perceptive and moving. I hope you'll look up more of them online at some point! He looks deeper into the person, and he uses pictorial techniques like composition (especially unusual viewpoints and cropped edges), color palettes, and his handling of the paint to convey a feeling about that individual.
Can you provide a bigger picture of cats in Egyptian society please?
Many people think that cats themselves were worshipped as divine. This is untrue, the Egyptians respected aspects of cats and other animals and associated their attributes with the divine. Their depictions of half-human half-animal hybrids were more complicated, and show that certain gods had these types of traits.
Cats were revered because they were able to kill vermin (mice, rats etc) that would get into food supplies and since grain was so important to daily life and food cats were important too. Cats also were able to kill snakes like the cobra. The Goddess Bastet, who I mentioned earlier, was the goddess of Protection, fertility and motherhood, because cats (large and small) tend to have large litters and are very nurturing and protective of their kittens. Also, it's worth mentioning that cats were believed to be first domesticated in the region!
Thanks!
Would you be able to tell me more about this?
This is a wood sculpture, which is interesting because wood was extremely expensive and rare. Very little wood survives the test of time which is why most artifacts we see are made of stone but Egyptians regularly used wood.
The sculpture may have worn a jeweled collar, based on the markings around the neck. And the gem on top of its head is a representation of a scarab, an animal also important to the Egyptians. So, while sculptures of cats often show accessories on the cats, scholars aren't sure if actual cats wore any adornments.
Were some of them used as containers for mummified cats?
Yes! Some of them were, the picture you sent me however wasn't as its solid wood. Mummified cats were often offerings to the Goddess Bastet. Mummified cats may have been thought to still have protective qualities.
What was the significance of this crouching pose?
You may have read about it on the label but it was unusual to see a 3D mummified figure sitting this way and here, it may connect the goddess with the Netherworld.
Kneeling was regularly seen, as a pose of worship and giving offering and was placed in temples. But this figure is crouching more than kneeling, and seems to be holding something in its hands. The crouching stance is well known in 2-dimensional representations. Also the cat-like figure is meant to look mummified.
Egyptian art was about communication, and as such was standardized so it could be as clear as possible. We very rarely see a break in standard poses, or actions or ways of depicting a figure. So when we do it's unusual. The label offers some thoughts as to what this pose may mean however.
Thank you so much for your help!
Do you know anything about Jack Baur, the man in this Alice Neel painting?
Hi! John I. H. Baur directed the Brooklyn Museum’s Department of Painting and Sculpture from 1936 to 1952. He was a scholar and curator of American Art in particular. After working at this museum, he was a curator and the director of the Whitney Museum in Manhattan. She has shown him here in his suit -- ready for the business of art and museum work!
Baur and Neel were friends. He even gave a speech in her honor at a memorial service after her death.
Hi! We were surprised by the Squishmatician Calculator by Harry Allen in the case with dishes. Can you tell us more about that and the decision to put those objects in the same group on display?
When the American Art curator gave us a tour of these galleries, she reminded us that this calculator was really cutting-edge when it was first made. The clear silicone (the "squishy" plastic-like material) allows light to reach the solar-powered battery; plus, it's unbreakable if the calculator is dropped or crushed.
It also shows us exactly what's inside the object. Many of the objects in that case were innovative when they were first produced in their use of materials, or in their approach to shape/form. They're all everyday objects, too!
There are some other transparent objects nearby, as well including some glassware, and a chair by Louis Dierra.
We are looking for objects in the museum made in the Americas before 1776. Where should we go?
The first gallery after the entrance gallery in American Identities shows portraits and furniture from colonial America around and a little before that time period and you should absolutely see the Arts of the Americas exhibit, "Life, Death and Transformation".
Thank you! Are there objects from this period in Visible Storage?
Yes, definitely. Go to the back drawers and you'll see some great objects from the American collection, though I'm not sure what time periods you'll find.
Super. Thank you! My students are here trying to piece together colonial America through material culture. I've done the project several times and wanted to be sure I didn't miss anything new. Thank you for being amazing, BMA.
If you want to dig into some specific objects, the portrait of Mrs. Silvester Gardiner in that first gallery I mentioned might be interesting to look at. It was painted in 1772 and during the revolution, her husband tended to hurt British soldiers after the battle of Bunker Hill, and was quite vocal about his Tory views. They ended up sailing back to England in 1778.
You'll also notice that many of the portraits in that gallery have unusual styling, that is because many of the portrait artists in Colonial America were self-taught, often relying on reproduced prints of European artworks to train themselves.
They were really excited to find the Zuni necklace. And they were fascinated by the portraiture. Thank you!
You're very welcome. I hope you and your class will be able to visit again, too!
I'm curious if these statues have significance as religious objects or were just artistic objects created to sell (since kachinas are usually worn as costumes ceremonially).
Kachina dolls are used to teach children about religion in Zuni and Hopi Pueblo Native American culture. Kachinas are thought to embody the spirit of a living thing and when called upon, they will evoke the power of whatever spirit they represented, such as an eagle. They are also represented by men in costume during ceremonies and sacred dances, so that's another aspect of them. The dolls are not considered sacred and are given to children and young women during ceremonies so that they may learn about the religion.
Awesome, thank you!
No problem!
What is this?
This is the OLPC XO Laptop, which stands for One Laptop Per Child. This was a part of a project that intended to provide a laptop for every child for learning. It was a non-profit initiative taken to distribute technology to teaching and learning in the developing world.
The project faced strong criticism since many human rights groups argued that third world countries don't have the infrastructure needed to support such a technology. It was good in theory, but not entirely practical.
What does "provenance not known" mean? It's on the label for this statue.
Provenance means the history of how this object came from its original location to its current location. Very often, museums have a record of original location found, and what the history of ownership is for each object, but sometimes this information is missing from the record. That's a great observation and a great question!
Oh, I see. Do we know whether this was originally freestanding or carved into a rock wall? I was also wondering about that
Also, whether it originally had a head?
It was probably part of a larger group statue which was freestanding, but placed next to a wall in a tomb. And it would definitely originally have had a head, headless statues were not a deliberate style in Ancient Egyptian statues. Which is interesting though considering modern sculpture. Rodin made bodies deliberately missing certain body parts, sometimes limbs, sometimes head, to concentrate on the shape and figure of a specific element of the human body. You'll notice some of his casts on your way out of the museum in the lobby!
I'll look for those! Thanks.
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Did Degas often paint portraits?
Although Degas is perhaps best known for his paintings of ballet dancers, he also painted many portraits during his career. In the mid-19th century, some artists began to change portraitures emphasis from social status to individual personality. These artists, including Degas, began to explore new ways of communicating the sitter's character to viewers. Do you feel like you can guess anything about this person from his portrait by Degas?
Is he a butcher?
That's a great guess, because of the two platters of meat, right? He may actually be an artist who painted still-lifes of food and then those plates would be his "props."
He looks awkward sitting like that. I guess that an artist would find it awkward to pose for someone.
Yes, he's kind of slumped, with his legs oddly bent like he's tired, or bored. If you look at some of the earlier portraits on that wall, you'll see how individuals were shown in more formal, "proper" poses. This was because the portraits were made to preserve their legacies and achievements and social status. Degas, on the other hand, is just interested in man as an individual with a personality.
It makes sense. For me a portrait would have to describe a picture of your present, but the present is not what is in front of you. The present is what makes you the person that you are at the moment.
You put that so well, and I agree! It's a "modern" way of thinking but it's true, we are all so much more than our facial features and our best set of clothing.
Maybe Degas wanted to portray a person through what we can't recognize at first.
Of course, I also enjoy very elegant traditional portraits but I find Degas's portraits so perceptive and moving. I hope you'll look up more of them online at some point! He looks deeper into the person, and he uses pictorial techniques like composition (especially unusual viewpoints and cropped edges), color palettes, and his handling of the paint to convey a feeling about that individual.
Can you provide a bigger picture of cats in Egyptian society please?
Many people think that cats themselves were worshipped as divine. This is untrue, the Egyptians respected aspects of cats and other animals and associated their attributes with the divine. Their depictions of half-human half-animal hybrids were more complicated, and show that certain gods had these types of traits.
Cats were revered because they were able to kill vermin (mice, rats etc) that would get into food supplies and since grain was so important to daily life and food cats were important too. Cats also were able to kill snakes like the cobra. The Goddess Bastet, who I mentioned earlier, was the goddess of Protection, fertility and motherhood, because cats (large and small) tend to have large litters and are very nurturing and protective of their kittens. Also, it's worth mentioning that cats were believed to be first domesticated in the region!
Thanks!
Would you be able to tell me more about this?
This is a wood sculpture, which is interesting because wood was extremely expensive and rare. Very little wood survives the test of time which is why most artifacts we see are made of stone but Egyptians regularly used wood.
The sculpture may have worn a jeweled collar, based on the markings around the neck. And the gem on top of its head is a representation of a scarab, an animal also important to the Egyptians. So, while sculptures of cats often show accessories on the cats, scholars aren't sure if actual cats wore any adornments.
Were some of them used as containers for mummified cats?
Yes! Some of them were, the picture you sent me however wasn't as its solid wood. Mummified cats were often offerings to the Goddess Bastet. Mummified cats may have been thought to still have protective qualities.
What was the significance of this crouching pose?
You may have read about it on the label but it was unusual to see a 3D mummified figure sitting this way and here, it may connect the goddess with the Netherworld.
Kneeling was regularly seen, as a pose of worship and giving offering and was placed in temples. But this figure is crouching more than kneeling, and seems to be holding something in its hands. The crouching stance is well known in 2-dimensional representations. Also the cat-like figure is meant to look mummified.
Egyptian art was about communication, and as such was standardized so it could be as clear as possible. We very rarely see a break in standard poses, or actions or ways of depicting a figure. So when we do it's unusual. The label offers some thoughts as to what this pose may mean however.
Thank you so much for your help!
Do you know anything about Jack Baur, the man in this Alice Neel painting?
Hi! John I. H. Baur directed the Brooklyn Museum’s Department of Painting and Sculpture from 1936 to 1952. He was a scholar and curator of American Art in particular. After working at this museum, he was a curator and the director of the Whitney Museum in Manhattan. She has shown him here in his suit -- ready for the business of art and museum work!
Baur and Neel were friends. He even gave a speech in her honor at a memorial service after her death.
Hi! We were surprised by the Squishmatician Calculator by Harry Allen in the case with dishes. Can you tell us more about that and the decision to put those objects in the same group on display?
When the American Art curator gave us a tour of these galleries, she reminded us that this calculator was really cutting-edge when it was first made. The clear silicone (the "squishy" plastic-like material) allows light to reach the solar-powered battery; plus, it's unbreakable if the calculator is dropped or crushed.
It also shows us exactly what's inside the object. Many of the objects in that case were innovative when they were first produced in their use of materials, or in their approach to shape/form. They're all everyday objects, too!
There are some other transparent objects nearby, as well including some glassware, and a chair by Louis Dierra.
We are looking for objects in the museum made in the Americas before 1776. Where should we go?
The first gallery after the entrance gallery in American Identities shows portraits and furniture from colonial America around and a little before that time period and you should absolutely see the Arts of the Americas exhibit, "Life, Death and Transformation".
Thank you! Are there objects from this period in Visible Storage?
Yes, definitely. Go to the back drawers and you'll see some great objects from the American collection, though I'm not sure what time periods you'll find.
Super. Thank you! My students are here trying to piece together colonial America through material culture. I've done the project several times and wanted to be sure I didn't miss anything new. Thank you for being amazing, BMA.
If you want to dig into some specific objects, the portrait of Mrs. Silvester Gardiner in that first gallery I mentioned might be interesting to look at. It was painted in 1772 and during the revolution, her husband tended to hurt British soldiers after the battle of Bunker Hill, and was quite vocal about his Tory views. They ended up sailing back to England in 1778.
You'll also notice that many of the portraits in that gallery have unusual styling, that is because many of the portrait artists in Colonial America were self-taught, often relying on reproduced prints of European artworks to train themselves.
They were really excited to find the Zuni necklace. And they were fascinated by the portraiture. Thank you!
You're very welcome. I hope you and your class will be able to visit again, too!
I'm curious if these statues have significance as religious objects or were just artistic objects created to sell (since kachinas are usually worn as costumes ceremonially).
Kachina dolls are used to teach children about religion in Zuni and Hopi Pueblo Native American culture. Kachinas are thought to embody the spirit of a living thing and when called upon, they will evoke the power of whatever spirit they represented, such as an eagle. They are also represented by men in costume during ceremonies and sacred dances, so that's another aspect of them. The dolls are not considered sacred and are given to children and young women during ceremonies so that they may learn about the religion.
Awesome, thank you!
No problem!
What is this?
This is the OLPC XO Laptop, which stands for One Laptop Per Child. This was a part of a project that intended to provide a laptop for every child for learning. It was a non-profit initiative taken to distribute technology to teaching and learning in the developing world.
The project faced strong criticism since many human rights groups argued that third world countries don't have the infrastructure needed to support such a technology. It was good in theory, but not entirely practical.
What does "provenance not known" mean? It's on the label for this statue.
Provenance means the history of how this object came from its original location to its current location. Very often, museums have a record of original location found, and what the history of ownership is for each object, but sometimes this information is missing from the record. That's a great observation and a great question!
Oh, I see. Do we know whether this was originally freestanding or carved into a rock wall? I was also wondering about that
Also, whether it originally had a head?
It was probably part of a larger group statue which was freestanding, but placed next to a wall in a tomb. And it would definitely originally have had a head, headless statues were not a deliberate style in Ancient Egyptian statues. Which is interesting though considering modern sculpture. Rodin made bodies deliberately missing certain body parts, sometimes limbs, sometimes head, to concentrate on the shape and figure of a specific element of the human body. You'll notice some of his casts on your way out of the museum in the lobby!
I'll look for those! Thanks.
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Did Degas often paint portraits?
Although Degas is perhaps best known for his paintings of ballet dancers, he also painted many portraits during his career. In the mid-19th century, some artists began to change portraitures emphasis from social status to individual personality. These artists, including Degas, began to explore new ways of communicating the sitter's character to viewers. Do you feel like you can guess anything about this person from his portrait by Degas?
Is he a butcher?
That's a great guess, because of the two platters of meat, right? He may actually be an artist who painted still-lifes of food and then those plates would be his "props."
He looks awkward sitting like that. I guess that an artist would find it awkward to pose for someone.
Yes, he's kind of slumped, with his legs oddly bent like he's tired, or bored. If you look at some of the earlier portraits on that wall, you'll see how individuals were shown in more formal, "proper" poses. This was because the portraits were made to preserve their legacies and achievements and social status. Degas, on the other hand, is just interested in man as an individual with a personality.
It makes sense. For me a portrait would have to describe a picture of your present, but the present is not what is in front of you. The present is what makes you the person that you are at the moment.
You put that so well, and I agree! It's a "modern" way of thinking but it's true, we are all so much more than our facial features and our best set of clothing.
Maybe Degas wanted to portray a person through what we can't recognize at first.
Of course, I also enjoy very elegant traditional portraits but I find Degas's portraits so perceptive and moving. I hope you'll look up more of them online at some point! He looks deeper into the person, and he uses pictorial techniques like composition (especially unusual viewpoints and cropped edges), color palettes, and his handling of the paint to convey a feeling about that individual.
Can you provide a bigger picture of cats in Egyptian society please?
Many people think that cats themselves were worshipped as divine. This is untrue, the Egyptians respected aspects of cats and other animals and associated their attributes with the divine. Their depictions of half-human half-animal hybrids were more complicated, and show that certain gods had these types of traits.
Cats were revered because they were able to kill vermin (mice, rats etc) that would get into food supplies and since grain was so important to daily life and food cats were important too. Cats also were able to kill snakes like the cobra. The Goddess Bastet, who I mentioned earlier, was the goddess of Protection, fertility and motherhood, because cats (large and small) tend to have large litters and are very nurturing and protective of their kittens. Also, it's worth mentioning that cats were believed to be first domesticated in the region!
Thanks!
Would you be able to tell me more about this?
This is a wood sculpture, which is interesting because wood was extremely expensive and rare. Very little wood survives the test of time which is why most artifacts we see are made of stone but Egyptians regularly used wood.
The sculpture may have worn a jeweled collar, based on the markings around the neck. And the gem on top of its head is a representation of a scarab, an animal also important to the Egyptians. So, while sculptures of cats often show accessories on the cats, scholars aren't sure if actual cats wore any adornments.
Were some of them used as containers for mummified cats?
Yes! Some of them were, the picture you sent me however wasn't as its solid wood. Mummified cats were often offerings to the Goddess Bastet. Mummified cats may have been thought to still have protective qualities.
What was the significance of this crouching pose?
You may have read about it on the label but it was unusual to see a 3D mummified figure sitting this way and here, it may connect the goddess with the Netherworld.
Kneeling was regularly seen, as a pose of worship and giving offering and was placed in temples. But this figure is crouching more than kneeling, and seems to be holding something in its hands. The crouching stance is well known in 2-dimensional representations. Also the cat-like figure is meant to look mummified.
Egyptian art was about communication, and as such was standardized so it could be as clear as possible. We very rarely see a break in standard poses, or actions or ways of depicting a figure. So when we do it's unusual. The label offers some thoughts as to what this pose may mean however.
Thank you so much for your help!
Do you know anything about Jack Baur, the man in this Alice Neel painting?
Hi! John I. H. Baur directed the Brooklyn Museum’s Department of Painting and Sculpture from 1936 to 1952. He was a scholar and curator of American Art in particular. After working at this museum, he was a curator and the director of the Whitney Museum in Manhattan. She has shown him here in his suit -- ready for the business of art and museum work!
Baur and Neel were friends. He even gave a speech in her honor at a memorial service after her death.
Hi! We were surprised by the Squishmatician Calculator by Harry Allen in the case with dishes. Can you tell us more about that and the decision to put those objects in the same group on display?
When the American Art curator gave us a tour of these galleries, she reminded us that this calculator was really cutting-edge when it was first made. The clear silicone (the "squishy" plastic-like material) allows light to reach the solar-powered battery; plus, it's unbreakable if the calculator is dropped or crushed.
It also shows us exactly what's inside the object. Many of the objects in that case were innovative when they were first produced in their use of materials, or in their approach to shape/form. They're all everyday objects, too!
There are some other transparent objects nearby, as well including some glassware, and a chair by Louis Dierra.
We are looking for objects in the museum made in the Americas before 1776. Where should we go?
The first gallery after the entrance gallery in American Identities shows portraits and furniture from colonial America around and a little before that time period and you should absolutely see the Arts of the Americas exhibit, "Life, Death and Transformation".
Thank you! Are there objects from this period in Visible Storage?
Yes, definitely. Go to the back drawers and you'll see some great objects from the American collection, though I'm not sure what time periods you'll find.
Super. Thank you! My students are here trying to piece together colonial America through material culture. I've done the project several times and wanted to be sure I didn't miss anything new. Thank you for being amazing, BMA.
If you want to dig into some specific objects, the portrait of Mrs. Silvester Gardiner in that first gallery I mentioned might be interesting to look at. It was painted in 1772 and during the revolution, her husband tended to hurt British soldiers after the battle of Bunker Hill, and was quite vocal about his Tory views. They ended up sailing back to England in 1778.
You'll also notice that many of the portraits in that gallery have unusual styling, that is because many of the portrait artists in Colonial America were self-taught, often relying on reproduced prints of European artworks to train themselves.
They were really excited to find the Zuni necklace. And they were fascinated by the portraiture. Thank you!
You're very welcome. I hope you and your class will be able to visit again, too!
I'm curious if these statues have significance as religious objects or were just artistic objects created to sell (since kachinas are usually worn as costumes ceremonially).
Kachina dolls are used to teach children about religion in Zuni and Hopi Pueblo Native American culture. Kachinas are thought to embody the spirit of a living thing and when called upon, they will evoke the power of whatever spirit they represented, such as an eagle. They are also represented by men in costume during ceremonies and sacred dances, so that's another aspect of them. The dolls are not considered sacred and are given to children and young women during ceremonies so that they may learn about the religion.
Awesome, thank you!
No problem!
What is this?
This is the OLPC XO Laptop, which stands for One Laptop Per Child. This was a part of a project that intended to provide a laptop for every child for learning. It was a non-profit initiative taken to distribute technology to teaching and learning in the developing world.
The project faced strong criticism since many human rights groups argued that third world countries don't have the infrastructure needed to support such a technology. It was good in theory, but not entirely practical.
What does "provenance not known" mean? It's on the label for this statue.
Provenance means the history of how this object came from its original location to its current location. Very often, museums have a record of original location found, and what the history of ownership is for each object, but sometimes this information is missing from the record. That's a great observation and a great question!
Oh, I see. Do we know whether this was originally freestanding or carved into a rock wall? I was also wondering about that
Also, whether it originally had a head?
It was probably part of a larger group statue which was freestanding, but placed next to a wall in a tomb. And it would definitely originally have had a head, headless statues were not a deliberate style in Ancient Egyptian statues. Which is interesting though considering modern sculpture. Rodin made bodies deliberately missing certain body parts, sometimes limbs, sometimes head, to concentrate on the shape and figure of a specific element of the human body. You'll notice some of his casts on your way out of the museum in the lobby!
I'll look for those! Thanks.
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Did Degas often paint portraits?
Although Degas is perhaps best known for his paintings of ballet dancers, he also painted many portraits during his career. In the mid-19th century, some artists began to change portraitures emphasis from social status to individual personality. These artists, including Degas, began to explore new ways of communicating the sitter's character to viewers. Do you feel like you can guess anything about this person from his portrait by Degas?
Is he a butcher?
That's a great guess, because of the two platters of meat, right? He may actually be an artist who painted still-lifes of food and then those plates would be his "props."
He looks awkward sitting like that. I guess that an artist would find it awkward to pose for someone.
Yes, he's kind of slumped, with his legs oddly bent like he's tired, or bored. If you look at some of the earlier portraits on that wall, you'll see how individuals were shown in more formal, "proper" poses. This was because the portraits were made to preserve their legacies and achievements and social status. Degas, on the other hand, is just interested in man as an individual with a personality.
It makes sense. For me a portrait would have to describe a picture of your present, but the present is not what is in front of you. The present is what makes you the person that you are at the moment.
You put that so well, and I agree! It's a "modern" way of thinking but it's true, we are all so much more than our facial features and our best set of clothing.
Maybe Degas wanted to portray a person through what we can't recognize at first.
Of course, I also enjoy very elegant traditional portraits but I find Degas's portraits so perceptive and moving. I hope you'll look up more of them online at some point! He looks deeper into the person, and he uses pictorial techniques like composition (especially unusual viewpoints and cropped edges), color palettes, and his handling of the paint to convey a feeling about that individual.
Can you provide a bigger picture of cats in Egyptian society please?
Many people think that cats themselves were worshipped as divine. This is untrue, the Egyptians respected aspects of cats and other animals and associated their attributes with the divine. Their depictions of half-human half-animal hybrids were more complicated, and show that certain gods had these types of traits.
Cats were revered because they were able to kill vermin (mice, rats etc) that would get into food supplies and since grain was so important to daily life and food cats were important too. Cats also were able to kill snakes like the cobra. The Goddess Bastet, who I mentioned earlier, was the goddess of Protection, fertility and motherhood, because cats (large and small) tend to have large litters and are very nurturing and protective of their kittens. Also, it's worth mentioning that cats were believed to be first domesticated in the region!
Thanks!
Would you be able to tell me more about this?
This is a wood sculpture, which is interesting because wood was extremely expensive and rare. Very little wood survives the test of time which is why most artifacts we see are made of stone but Egyptians regularly used wood.
The sculpture may have worn a jeweled collar, based on the markings around the neck. And the gem on top of its head is a representation of a scarab, an animal also important to the Egyptians. So, while sculptures of cats often show accessories on the cats, scholars aren't sure if actual cats wore any adornments.
Were some of them used as containers for mummified cats?
Yes! Some of them were, the picture you sent me however wasn't as its solid wood. Mummified cats were often offerings to the Goddess Bastet. Mummified cats may have been thought to still have protective qualities.
What was the significance of this crouching pose?
You may have read about it on the label but it was unusual to see a 3D mummified figure sitting this way and here, it may connect the goddess with the Netherworld.
Kneeling was regularly seen, as a pose of worship and giving offering and was placed in temples. But this figure is crouching more than kneeling, and seems to be holding something in its hands. The crouching stance is well known in 2-dimensional representations. Also the cat-like figure is meant to look mummified.
Egyptian art was about communication, and as such was standardized so it could be as clear as possible. We very rarely see a break in standard poses, or actions or ways of depicting a figure. So when we do it's unusual. The label offers some thoughts as to what this pose may mean however.
Thank you so much for your help!
Do you know anything about Jack Baur, the man in this Alice Neel painting?
Hi! John I. H. Baur directed the Brooklyn Museum’s Department of Painting and Sculpture from 1936 to 1952. He was a scholar and curator of American Art in particular. After working at this museum, he was a curator and the director of the Whitney Museum in Manhattan. She has shown him here in his suit -- ready for the business of art and museum work!
Baur and Neel were friends. He even gave a speech in her honor at a memorial service after her death.
Hi! We were surprised by the Squishmatician Calculator by Harry Allen in the case with dishes. Can you tell us more about that and the decision to put those objects in the same group on display?
When the American Art curator gave us a tour of these galleries, she reminded us that this calculator was really cutting-edge when it was first made. The clear silicone (the "squishy" plastic-like material) allows light to reach the solar-powered battery; plus, it's unbreakable if the calculator is dropped or crushed.
It also shows us exactly what's inside the object. Many of the objects in that case were innovative when they were first produced in their use of materials, or in their approach to shape/form. They're all everyday objects, too!
There are some other transparent objects nearby, as well including some glassware, and a chair by Louis Dierra.
We are looking for objects in the museum made in the Americas before 1776. Where should we go?
The first gallery after the entrance gallery in American Identities shows portraits and furniture from colonial America around and a little before that time period and you should absolutely see the Arts of the Americas exhibit, "Life, Death and Transformation".
Thank you! Are there objects from this period in Visible Storage?
Yes, definitely. Go to the back drawers and you'll see some great objects from the American collection, though I'm not sure what time periods you'll find.
Super. Thank you! My students are here trying to piece together colonial America through material culture. I've done the project several times and wanted to be sure I didn't miss anything new. Thank you for being amazing, BMA.
If you want to dig into some specific objects, the portrait of Mrs. Silvester Gardiner in that first gallery I mentioned might be interesting to look at. It was painted in 1772 and during the revolution, her husband tended to hurt British soldiers after the battle of Bunker Hill, and was quite vocal about his Tory views. They ended up sailing back to England in 1778.
You'll also notice that many of the portraits in that gallery have unusual styling, that is because many of the portrait artists in Colonial America were self-taught, often relying on reproduced prints of European artworks to train themselves.
They were really excited to find the Zuni necklace. And they were fascinated by the portraiture. Thank you!
You're very welcome. I hope you and your class will be able to visit again, too!
I'm curious if these statues have significance as religious objects or were just artistic objects created to sell (since kachinas are usually worn as costumes ceremonially).
Kachina dolls are used to teach children about religion in Zuni and Hopi Pueblo Native American culture. Kachinas are thought to embody the spirit of a living thing and when called upon, they will evoke the power of whatever spirit they represented, such as an eagle. They are also represented by men in costume during ceremonies and sacred dances, so that's another aspect of them. The dolls are not considered sacred and are given to children and young women during ceremonies so that they may learn about the religion.
Awesome, thank you!
No problem!
What is this?
This is the OLPC XO Laptop, which stands for One Laptop Per Child. This was a part of a project that intended to provide a laptop for every child for learning. It was a non-profit initiative taken to distribute technology to teaching and learning in the developing world.
The project faced strong criticism since many human rights groups argued that third world countries don't have the infrastructure needed to support such a technology. It was good in theory, but not entirely practical.
What does "provenance not known" mean? It's on the label for this statue.
Provenance means the history of how this object came from its original location to its current location. Very often, museums have a record of original location found, and what the history of ownership is for each object, but sometimes this information is missing from the record. That's a great observation and a great question!
Oh, I see. Do we know whether this was originally freestanding or carved into a rock wall? I was also wondering about that
Also, whether it originally had a head?
It was probably part of a larger group statue which was freestanding, but placed next to a wall in a tomb. And it would definitely originally have had a head, headless statues were not a deliberate style in Ancient Egyptian statues. Which is interesting though considering modern sculpture. Rodin made bodies deliberately missing certain body parts, sometimes limbs, sometimes head, to concentrate on the shape and figure of a specific element of the human body. You'll notice some of his casts on your way out of the museum in the lobby!
I'll look for those! Thanks.
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.