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Visible Storage • Study Center

DATES On view since January 14, 2005
LOCATION On view in Luce Center for American Art, 5th Floor
DESCRIPTION Luce Center of American Art. Visible Storage/Study Center (long term installation). [01/14/2005 - --/--/2---]. Installation view: furniture with original upholstery.
CITATION Brooklyn Museum Digital Collections and Services. Records of the Department of Digital Collections and Services. (DIG_E_2005_Luce)
SOURCE born digital
RELATED LINKS Main Exhibition Page
  • Visible Storage: Case 32, Shelf A (Sculpture)
    The American Sculpture Collection
    The Brooklyn Museum’s collection offers a lively survey of sculptural practice in North America and the Spanish American colonies over three centuries, in a variety of materials (predominantly marble and bronze) and a medley of styles. Most of the Museum’s American sculpture is now in the Visible Storage Study Center and the adjacent American Identities galleries.

    From the Neoclassical marble females of Hiram Powers and Richard Greenough to Gaston Lachaise’s modernist bronze goddess, the full-length human figure has been a central preoccupation of many sculptors represented in the collection. For Spanish colonial carvers, it took the form of the devotional figure in wood, often embellished with painted surfaces and sometimes with more precious materials like ivory and silver. In contrast, twentieth-century modernist carvers, like Chaim Gross, preferred to leave the wooden surface of the figure in a natural state.

    Portrait busts in stone, bronze, and even wood are among the most common sculptural forms here, with origins in antiquity. Whether conceived as private commemoration or as public icon, the portrait bust, like the painted portrait, served as the mainstay of many artists’ careers during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, executed in a spectrum of styles from realism to modernism. Most are about life-size, adding to their expressive power to commit a mortal human face to the permanence of bronze or stone.

    Reliefs, another ancient form of sculpture in which figures project from a background, bring the two-dimensional illusionism of painting to the enduring medium of bronze or marble. Among the many sculptors represented in the collection, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Olin Levi Warner, and Helen Farnsworth Mears excelled at exploiting this pictorial quality, using delicate drawing and subtle modeling in their bronze portrait plaques. Some reliefs here are in the form of round or oval medallions, which recalled the coins and cameos of antiquity.

    Brooklyn’s collection is rich in the work of American “animaliers,” later nineteenth- and early twentieth-century sculptors who specialized in bronze animal sculptures, usually executed on a small scale. These works portray highly naturalistic, usually wild, animals, often in vigorous action or combat. Once a model was created, usually in clay, multiple bronze casts could be made for a mass market eager to decorate domestic interiors. Some of these bronzes, like the small version of Alexander Phimister Proctor’s great pumas flanking the Ninth Street gate to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, are reduced-scale models of large outdoor sculptures.

  • Visible Storage: Case 34, Shelf A (Spanish Colonial Art)
    Not all colonial art made in the Americas was produced in the Anglo-American or Dutch-American colonies of North America. From the sixteenth through the early nineteenth century, the thriving cities of Mexico City in New Spain, and Lima and Cuzco in the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru represented another, very different colonial experience in America. Whereas the colonies that would become the United States were northern European in character, founded primarily by members of the middle class, and staunchly Protestant, Spain’s colonies were Catholic and followed the model of European aristocracy, where a small number of nobles controlled vast land holdings. In addition, because the Spanish settlers had encountered large indigenous populations—the Inca in Peru and the Aztec and Maya in Mexico—whose artistic traditions they admired and adopted, the Spanish colonies were unique in colonial America in their combination of native and European influences.

     

    Despite these differences, Spanish Americans, like the colonists of Anglo-America, came to feel more American than European, and in the early nineteenth century, after centuries of rule from Europe, they began to struggle for their independence. In an effort to distinguish themselves from their European roots, artists in the Spanish colonies sometimes turned toward their indigenous past for inspiration.

     

    The Brooklyn Museum’s collection has strong holdings of art made during the colonial period in both Mexico and Peru, ranging from paintings and sculpture to silver and furniture. Much of these collections was acquired in the summer of 1941, when the Museum sent the curator Herbert Spinden to South America on a collecting expedition. At this time, the United States was building hemispheric unity in a futile attempt to turn away from the war in Europe, before the country was plunged into the conflict that December. More Spanish colonial material is on exhibition in the adjacent American Identities galleries.

  • Visible Storage: Case 36, Shelf A (Ceramics)
    The Museum’s collection of American ceramics is one of the oldest in the United States, and experts consider it to be one of the most important in the country because of its age, size, and inclusiveness chronologically and geographically. The core of the holdings consists of objects that Arthur W. Clement, a local Brooklyn Heights collector, amassed at the beginning of the twentieth century and gave to the Museum in the 1940s. High-styled porcelain, earthenware, and utilitarian stoneware are well represented in the collection, which also has a special focus on Brooklyn-made wares.

    As Manhattan became increasingly congested in the nineteenth century and fire laws were enacted that precluded any manufacturing involving open fires, ceramic makers moved their kilns to the east side of the East River in Brooklyn. Greenpoint, in particular, became a center for ceramic makers such as Union Porcelain Works, the Faience Manufacturing Company, and Charles Cartlidge. The Museum’s extensive collection of ceramics by the Union Porcelain Works, one of the most prestigious American ceramic firms in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, includes wares retained by the firm’s founding family that were donated in the mid-twentieth century.

  • Visible Storage: Case 37, Shelf A (18th-Century Furniture)
    During the eighteenth century the cultural ties between the American colonies and England were especially strong. Although many native-born furniture makers were working in the colonies at this time, there was also a steady stream of English-born and -trained craftsmen to the New World. For inspiration, both the native-born and immigrant craftsmen relied heavily on designs published in English pattern books, particularly those by Thomas Chippendale (1718–1779), and on examples of imported furniture. The vast size of the colonies and the great distances between the main cities gave rise to regional variations in style, means of construction, and furniture forms. Most of the eighteenth-century furniture in the Museum’s collection is displayed in the period rooms on the fourth floor.

    Many of the objects housed here, however, are part of a recent generous gift from the Matthew Scott Sloan collection that was formed in Brooklyn in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

  • Visible Storage: Case 39, Shelf A (Native American Art)
    The Brooklyn Museum’s first curator of ethnology, Stewart Culin (served 1903–29), began collecting Native American art during several early twentieth-century expeditions to the Southwest. The so-called Four Corners region surrounding the intersection of the boundaries of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado is well known for the development of fine, hand-coiled pottery, a traditional art that brings imagination and beauty to utilitarian objects. The ancient black-and-white pottery (A.D. 1–1300) and large Pueblo water jars (A.D. 1800–1915) seen here represent a fraction of the approximately 1,200 objects in the Museum’s collection of Native American pottery. Ceramics continue to be a major artistic expression throughout the Southwest, with contemporary Native American artists producing traditional styles and developing new forms and designs.

    Carved spoons from across North America exhibit equal creativity and range, representing native carvers from the Haida, Tlingit, Alaskan Eskimo, Hupa, Yoruk, and Plains peoples. Made from diverse media, including horn, shell, wood, and pigments, these objects also combine artistry and functionality.

    More of the Native American collection can be seen throughout the adjacent American Identities installation and in Living Legacies: The Arts of the Americas on the first floor of the Museum.

  • Visible Storage: Case 28, Shelf B (Special Exhibition)
    Ancient Treasures of the Americas

    For thousands of years, the indigenous peoples of North, Central, and South America have employed numerous materials, forms, techniques, and styles to create works of great beauty and innovation. The thirteen works shown here, dating from 800 B.C. to A.D. 850, represent some of the most exquisite and rare objects in the Arts of the Americas collection.

    The Olmec of the Gulf Coast of Mexico (1200–300 B.C.), for example, produced magnificent carvings in jadeite, serpentine, and other minerals—such as the figurines, ornaments, and spoon on display—as offerings to be placed in elite burials or in dedicatory caches celebrating the construction of religious and civic monuments. The Woodland peoples of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys in the United States (A.D. 1–900) sculpted beautifully detailed stone effigy pipes of animals that were probably used during ceremonies. The Maya of Mexico and Central America (250 B.C.–A.D. 900) carved jade and shell to make delicate ornaments and picture plaques that were worn and used by elite members of society; and finally, the Chavin culture of the northern highlands of Peru (900–200 B.C.) created finely incised conch-shell trumpets, which were most likely used during rituals, as depicted on architectural friezes and monumental sculpture.

    Notable objects in this case include the Olmec Standing Figure Holding a Baby, remarkable for its delicacy and highly polished surface. The figure has the typical Olmec face with drooping lips, flattened head, drilled ear lobes, and unclothed body. Its sensitively modeled face is serene compared to the animated, snarling expression of the “baby,” which has been interpreted as a supernatural being because it wears a headband decorated with two nodules that is a common attribute of the Olmec infant-jaguar deity. The carving may portray an elite figure holding an ancestral or deity image or the Olmec practice of child sacrifice. The Allison-Copena Panther Effigy Pipe is remarkable for its realism; it is carved on all sides including the bottom pads of the feet. The Maya mosaic head pendant is outstanding in the skillful way the artist arranged tesserae, or small pieces, of jadeite, Spondylus (an orange-colored spiny oyster) shell, mother of pearl, and obsidian to fashion a dramatic face that belies the pendant’s small size. The elaborately incised Chavin Strombus-Shell Trumpet with its self-referential depiction of a human figure blowing a conch shell, has drill holes so it could be suspended on a cord, perhaps from the neck of a priest. In the incised design, a cascade of serpents emanate from the trumpet, possibly alluding to the sacred nature of the sounds produced.

  • Visible Storage: Case 33, Shelf A (Sculpture)
    The American Sculpture Collection
    The Brooklyn Museum’s collection offers a lively survey of sculptural practice in North America and the Spanish American colonies over three centuries, in a variety of materials (predominantly marble and bronze) and a medley of styles. Most of the Museum’s American sculpture is now in the Visible Storage Study Center and the adjacent American Identities galleries.

    From the Neoclassical marble females of Hiram Powers and Richard Greenough to Gaston Lachaise’s modernist bronze goddess, the full-length human figure has been a central preoccupation of many sculptors represented in the collection. For Spanish colonial carvers, it took the form of the devotional figure in wood, often embellished with painted surfaces and sometimes with more precious materials like ivory and silver. In contrast, twentieth-century modernist carvers, like Chaim Gross, preferred to leave the wooden surface of the figure in a natural state.

    Portrait busts in stone, bronze, and even wood are among the most common sculptural forms here, with origins in antiquity. Whether conceived as private commemoration or as public icon, the portrait bust, like the painted portrait, served as the mainstay of many artists’ careers during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, executed in a spectrum of styles from realism to modernism. Most are about life-size, adding to their expressive power to commit a mortal human face to the permanence of bronze or stone.

    Reliefs, another ancient form of sculpture in which figures project from a background, bring the two-dimensional illusionism of painting to the enduring medium of bronze or marble. Among the many sculptors represented in the collection, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Olin Levi Warner, and Helen Farnsworth Mears excelled at exploiting this pictorial quality, using delicate drawing and subtle modeling in their bronze portrait plaques. Some reliefs here are in the form of round or oval medallions, which recalled the coins and cameos of antiquity.

    Brooklyn’s collection is rich in the work of American “animaliers,” later nineteenth- and early twentieth-century sculptors who specialized in bronze animal sculptures, usually executed on a small scale. These works portray highly naturalistic, usually wild, animals, often in vigorous action or combat. Once a model was created, usually in clay, multiple bronze casts could be made for a mass market eager to decorate domestic interiors. Some of these bronzes, like the small version of Alexander Phimister Proctor’s great pumas flanking the Ninth Street gate to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, are reduced-scale models of large outdoor sculptures.

  • Visible Storage: Case 2 (Tiffany Glass)
    Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933), whose father founded the famous retailer Tiffany & Company (1837–present), was trained as a painter, and several of his canvases can be seen in the adjoining American Identities galleries. During trips to England as a young man, Tiffany became aware of William Morris, the designer, Socialist, and founder of the English Arts and Crafts Movement, whose workshops, Morris & Company, created beautifully wrought handmade objects. Beginning in 1879, Tiffany founded a series of design firms that eventually became Tiffany Studios. In these workshops, he supervised the production of extraordinary glass windows, vases, and lighting devices, as well as metal objects that were among the first American decorative arts objects to achieve international fame.

    Although Tiffany considered his stained-glass windows a more prestigious art form than his glass lamps and vases, he is best known today for the latter two. On the fourth floor of the Museum are two splendid Tiffany landscape windows that were removed from a deconsecrated church in Brooklyn, as well as a display of the principal Tiffany vases in the collection. With the installation of lamps and vases here in Visible Storage Study Center, all of the Museum’s holdings of Tiffany are now on display.

    Many of the works installed here have important provenances, or history of ownership. Some objects were owned by Laura Barnes, wife of Alfred Barnes, the famous Philadelphia collector of Impressionist paintings, and others belonged to René de Quelin, one of Tiffany’s shop stewards, or general managers. A third group donated by Charles Gould, a New York businessman and personal friend of the artist, was selected personally by Tiffany for the Museum.

  • Visible Storage: Case 4, Shelf A (Sculpture)
    The American Sculpture Collection
    The Brooklyn Museum’s collection offers a lively survey of sculptural practice in North America and the Spanish American colonies over three centuries, in a variety of materials (predominantly marble and bronze) and a medley of styles. Most of the Museum’s American sculpture is now in the Visible Storage Study Center and the adjacent American Identities galleries.

    From the Neoclassical marble females of Hiram Powers and Richard Greenough to Gaston Lachaise’s modernist bronze goddess, the full-length human figure has been a central preoccupation of many sculptors represented in the collection. For Spanish colonial carvers, it took the form of the devotional figure in wood, often embellished with painted surfaces and sometimes with more precious materials like ivory and silver. In contrast, twentieth-century modernist carvers, like Chaim Gross, preferred to leave the wooden surface of the figure in a natural state.

    Portrait busts in stone, bronze, and even wood are among the most common sculptural forms here, with origins in antiquity. Whether conceived as private commemoration or as public icon, the portrait bust, like the painted portrait, served as the mainstay of many artists’ careers during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, executed in a spectrum of styles from realism to modernism. Most are about life-size, adding to their expressive power to commit a mortal human face to the permanence of bronze or stone.

    Reliefs, another ancient form of sculpture in which figures project from a background, bring the two-dimensional illusionism of painting to the enduring medium of bronze or marble. Among the many sculptors represented in the collection, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Olin Levi Warner, and Helen Farnsworth Mears excelled at exploiting this pictorial quality, using delicate drawing and subtle modeling in their bronze portrait plaques. Some reliefs here are in the form of round or oval medallions, which recalled the coins and cameos of antiquity.

    Brooklyn’s collection is rich in the work of American “animaliers,” later nineteenth- and early twentieth-century sculptors who specialized in bronze animal sculptures, usually executed on a small scale. These works portray highly naturalistic, usually wild, animals, often in vigorous action or combat. Once a model was created, usually in clay, multiple bronze casts could be made for a mass market eager to decorate domestic interiors. Some of these bronzes, like the small version of Alexander Phimister Proctor’s great pumas flanking the Ninth Street gate to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, are reduced-scale models of large outdoor sculptures.

  • Visible Storage: Case 30, Shelf B (Sculpture)
    The American Sculpture Collection
    The Brooklyn Museum’s collection offers a lively survey of sculptural practice in North America and the Spanish American colonies over three centuries, in a variety of materials (predominantly marble and bronze) and a medley of styles. Most of the Museum’s American sculpture is now in the Visible Storage Study Center and the adjacent American Identities galleries.

    From the Neoclassical marble females of Hiram Powers and Richard Greenough to Gaston Lachaise’s modernist bronze goddess, the full-length human figure has been a central preoccupation of many sculptors represented in the collection. For Spanish colonial carvers, it took the form of the devotional figure in wood, often embellished with painted surfaces and sometimes with more precious materials like ivory and silver. In contrast, twentieth-century modernist carvers, like Chaim Gross, preferred to leave the wooden surface of the figure in a natural state.

    Portrait busts in stone, bronze, and even wood are among the most common sculptural forms here, with origins in antiquity. Whether conceived as private commemoration or as public icon, the portrait bust, like the painted portrait, served as the mainstay of many artists’ careers during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, executed in a spectrum of styles from realism to modernism. Most are about life-size, adding to their expressive power to commit a mortal human face to the permanence of bronze or stone.

    Reliefs, another ancient form of sculpture in which figures project from a background, bring the two-dimensional illusionism of painting to the enduring medium of bronze or marble. Among the many sculptors represented in the collection, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Olin Levi Warner, and Helen Farnsworth Mears excelled at exploiting this pictorial quality, using delicate drawing and subtle modeling in their bronze portrait plaques. Some reliefs here are in the form of round or oval medallions, which recalled the coins and cameos of antiquity.

    Brooklyn’s collection is rich in the work of American “animaliers,” later nineteenth- and early twentieth-century sculptors who specialized in bronze animal sculptures, usually executed on a small scale. These works portray highly naturalistic, usually wild, animals, often in vigorous action or combat. Once a model was created, usually in clay, multiple bronze casts could be made for a mass market eager to decorate domestic interiors. Some of these bronzes, like the small version of Alexander Phimister Proctor’s great pumas flanking the Ninth Street gate to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, are reduced-scale models of large outdoor sculptures.

  • Visible Storage: Case 31, Shelf A (Sculpture)
    The American Sculpture Collection
    The Brooklyn Museum’s collection offers a lively survey of sculptural practice in North America and the Spanish American colonies over three centuries, in a variety of materials (predominantly marble and bronze) and a medley of styles. Most of the Museum’s American sculpture is now in the Visible Storage Study Center and the adjacent American Identities galleries.

    From the Neoclassical marble females of Hiram Powers and Richard Greenough to Gaston Lachaise’s modernist bronze goddess, the full-length human figure has been a central preoccupation of many sculptors represented in the collection. For Spanish colonial carvers, it took the form of the devotional figure in wood, often embellished with painted surfaces and sometimes with more precious materials like ivory and silver. In contrast, twentieth-century modernist carvers, like Chaim Gross, preferred to leave the wooden surface of the figure in a natural state.

    Portrait busts in stone, bronze, and even wood are among the most common sculptural forms here, with origins in antiquity. Whether conceived as private commemoration or as public icon, the portrait bust, like the painted portrait, served as the mainstay of many artists’ careers during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, executed in a spectrum of styles from realism to modernism. Most are about life-size, adding to their expressive power to commit a mortal human face to the permanence of bronze or stone.

    Reliefs, another ancient form of sculpture in which figures project from a background, bring the two-dimensional illusionism of painting to the enduring medium of bronze or marble. Among the many sculptors represented in the collection, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Olin Levi Warner, and Helen Farnsworth Mears excelled at exploiting this pictorial quality, using delicate drawing and subtle modeling in their bronze portrait plaques. Some reliefs here are in the form of round or oval medallions, which recalled the coins and cameos of antiquity.

    Brooklyn’s collection is rich in the work of American “animaliers,” later nineteenth- and early twentieth-century sculptors who specialized in bronze animal sculptures, usually executed on a small scale. These works portray highly naturalistic, usually wild, animals, often in vigorous action or combat. Once a model was created, usually in clay, multiple bronze casts could be made for a mass market eager to decorate domestic interiors. Some of these bronzes, like the small version of Alexander Phimister Proctor’s great pumas flanking the Ninth Street gate to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, are reduced-scale models of large outdoor sculptures.

  • Visible Storage: Case 29, Shelf A (Sculpture)
    The American Sculpture Collection
    The Brooklyn Museum’s collection offers a lively survey of sculptural practice in North America and the Spanish American colonies over three centuries, in a variety of materials (predominantly marble and bronze) and a medley of styles. Most of the Museum’s American sculpture is now in the Visible Storage Study Center and the adjacent American Identities galleries.

    From the Neoclassical marble females of Hiram Powers and Richard Greenough to Gaston Lachaise’s modernist bronze goddess, the full-length human figure has been a central preoccupation of many sculptors represented in the collection. For Spanish colonial carvers, it took the form of the devotional figure in wood, often embellished with painted surfaces and sometimes with more precious materials like ivory and silver. In contrast, twentieth-century modernist carvers, like Chaim Gross, preferred to leave the wooden surface of the figure in a natural state.

    Portrait busts in stone, bronze, and even wood are among the most common sculptural forms here, with origins in antiquity. Whether conceived as private commemoration or as public icon, the portrait bust, like the painted portrait, served as the mainstay of many artists’ careers during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, executed in a spectrum of styles from realism to modernism. Most are about life-size, adding to their expressive power to commit a mortal human face to the permanence of bronze or stone.

    Reliefs, another ancient form of sculpture in which figures project from a background, bring the two-dimensional illusionism of painting to the enduring medium of bronze or marble. Among the many sculptors represented in the collection, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Olin Levi Warner, and Helen Farnsworth Mears excelled at exploiting this pictorial quality, using delicate drawing and subtle modeling in their bronze portrait plaques. Some reliefs here are in the form of round or oval medallions, which recalled the coins and cameos of antiquity.

    Brooklyn’s collection is rich in the work of American “animaliers,” later nineteenth- and early twentieth-century sculptors who specialized in bronze animal sculptures, usually executed on a small scale. These works portray highly naturalistic, usually wild, animals, often in vigorous action or combat. Once a model was created, usually in clay, multiple bronze casts could be made for a mass market eager to decorate domestic interiors. Some of these bronzes, like the small version of Alexander Phimister Proctor’s great pumas flanking the Ninth Street gate to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, are reduced-scale models of large outdoor sculptures.

  • Visible Storage: Case 27
    One of the few American students of the famous French sculptor Auguste Rodin, Malvina Hoffman also studied equestrian sculpture briefly with the Croatian artist Ivan Mestrovic (1881–1962). While she worked with him, Mestrovic did her portrait and Hoffman modeled what eventually became this over-life-size statue of her mentor. Clad in an open-collared smock and loose trousers, the figure peers intently at the lump of clay waiting to be modeled in his hand. This monumental image portrays Mestrovic, who later settled in the United States, as a heroic artist at the height of his creative powers.

  • Visible Storage: Case 26
    The heroic scale of this larger-than-life-size statue of General John Blackburne Woodward (1835–1896), the first president (1888–96) of The Brooklyn Institute, the forerunner of the Brooklyn Museum, reflects the subject’s prestige as “the most useful citizen of Brooklyn.” After Woodward’s death, a committee commissioned this work from his friend Frederick MacMonnies, the prominent Brooklyn-born and Paris-trained sculptor who created the powerful figural groups on the exterior of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch at Grand Army Plaza. This imposing bronze statue of Woodward in modern dress, complete with his pince-nez spectacles, once stood outdoors, as well, facing Eastern Parkway and welcoming visitors to the Museum.

  • Visible Storage: Case 1, Shelf C (Tiffany Glass)
    Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933), whose father founded the famous retailer Tiffany & Company (1837–present), was trained as a painter, and several of his canvases can be seen in the adjoining American Identities galleries. During trips to England as a young man, Tiffany became aware of William Morris, the designer, Socialist, and founder of the English Arts and Crafts Movement, whose workshops, Morris & Company, created beautifully wrought handmade objects. Beginning in 1879, Tiffany founded a series of design firms that eventually became Tiffany Studios. In these workshops, he supervised the production of extraordinary glass windows, vases, and lighting devices, as well as metal objects that were among the first American decorative arts objects to achieve international fame.

    Although Tiffany considered his stained-glass windows a more prestigious art form than his glass lamps and vases, he is best known today for the latter two. On the fourth floor of the Museum are two splendid Tiffany landscape windows that were removed from a deconsecrated church in Brooklyn, as well as a display of the principal Tiffany vases in the collection. With the installation of lamps and vases here in Visible Storage Study Center, all of the Museum’s holdings of Tiffany are now on display.

    Many of the works installed here have important provenances, or history of ownership. Some objects were owned by Laura Barnes, wife of Alfred Barnes, the famous Philadelphia collector of Impressionist paintings, and others belonged to René de Quelin, one of Tiffany’s shop stewards, or general managers. A third group donated by Charles Gould, a New York businessman and personal friend of the artist, was selected personally by Tiffany for the Museum.

  • Visible Storage: Case 3, Shelf A (Special Exhibition)
    Displayed here are examples of American nineteenth-century metamorphic, or convertible, furniture. Furniture that changes form and offers multiple functions can trace its roots to the eighteenth century. There are rare American colonial examples (such as a table that becomes a chair when the top is rotated), and ingenious cabinetmakers of pre-Revolutionary France created sophisticated pieces with hidden drawers and multiple uses to amuse an elite audience. Convertible furniture is largely a nineteenth-century development, however, that met the needs of middle-class city dwellers with limited living space. While this nineteenth-century furniture was practical, it also embodied ideas of newness and invention that both amused and intrigued early modern consumers.

  • Visible Storage: Case 8, Shelf A (Contemporary Furniture)
    The first pieces of American modernist furniture to enter the collection, in the 1940s, were several early twentieth-century Arts and Crafts Movement chairs and a table by Gustav Stickley (1858–1942). It was the Museum’s 1986 Machine Age in America exhibition, however, that focused the collecting of contemporary American furniture, and many of the objects shown here were acquired for that exhibition and in its wake.

    In addition to collecting “historic” objects from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the Museum actively collects handmade and machine-made furniture in current production in an effort to keep the collection relevant and up-to-date. In fact, several midcentury objects came to the Museum as new office furniture and were accessioned, or incorporated, into the Decorative Arts collection when their importance was recognized with the passage of time.

  • Visible Storage: Case 13
    The aluminum prototype for this futuristic bicycle was handmade by the MG Auto Company in England in 1946 and incorporated an ingenious dynamo that stored the downhill energy and released it on uphill runs. It was prohibitively expensive for consumer production, but in 1960 Bowden contracted with Bomard Industries in Michigan to produce this more mechanically conventional, one-speed version of the dynamic, organic design in fiberglass, a new design material. Ultimately the endeavor was too costly for Bomard Industries, as well, and the firm went out of business after manufacturing only 522 examples.

  • Visible Storage: Case 14
    Gaston Lachaise’s Canadian-American wife, Isabel Dutaud Nagle, was his muse and the model for many works, including this imposing statue. They met when the sculptor was only twenty; she was married and ten years his senior. He followed her from France to Boston and finally married her in 1917. For him she was “the primary inspiration which awakened my vision and the leading influence that has directed my forces.” The monumental scale of this nude and the full curves and buoyant swells of Isabel’s body transcend the individual model’s features and physique to create a goddess-like embodiment of female power.

  • Visible Storage: Case 21, Shelf A (Pressed Glass)
    Pressed, or molded, glass was invented in the early nineteenth century during the Industrial Revolution in England and brought to the United States by enterprising industrialists. Whereas glass objects created by traditional glassblowing methods were individually made, factory-produced pressed glass was manufactured in multiples that were less expensive and available to a larger audience.

    Although the process of pressing glass was used mainly to manufacture utilitarian tabletop objects such as drinking vessels, it was also employed to produce the types of souvenirs and commemorative objects that are displayed here. These objects might convey a religious message, such as “Bless our daily bread,” or a political one, such as “Remember the Maine,” referring to the destruction of a battleship in Havana harbor that ignited the Spanish-American War in 1898. Other objects bear the likenesses of famous historical figures and anticipate our modern notions of fame and the cult of the personality.

    Nearly all of the commemorative pressed glass in the Museum was accessioned at one time in 1940 from a single collection formed earlier in the twentieth century. When this glass was made, probably no one thought it was destined for a museum. Eventually, the passionate zeal and discerning eye of the collector, and then those of the curator, transformed these souvenirs into a collection that reflects a great deal about manufacturing, consumerism, and important moments in the history of the United States. Over the ensuing years, curators have added to the original core group of glass, building on one strength of the collection.

  • Visible Storage: Case 21, Shelf D (Pressed Glass)
    In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, American presidents were often the subject of pressed-glass objects that most typically celebrated them as political candidates and more rarely memorialized them as political heroes and martyrs. Plate 40.159, showing Grover Cleveland (1837-1908), is presumably a souvenir of his presidential campaign of 1884 or 1892. Cleveland and his running mate, Thomas Hendricks (1819-1885), defeated the Republican candidate James G. Blaine (1830-1893) and his running mate, John "Black Jack" Logan (1826-1886), who are illustrated on plate 40.157, also a campaign souvenir. Plate 40.167 was issued as a memorial remembrance on the death of Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), the leading Union general during the Civil War who became president in 1868. It depicts Grant with the slogan "Let Us Have Peace" and his birth and death dates. The mug decorated with busts of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) and James Garfield (1831-1881) and inscribed "Our Country's Martyrs" refers to the assassinations of these two national leaders in 1865 and 1881 respectively.

  • Visible Storage: Case 22, Shelf A (Silver)
    Silver objects have been made in America since the early part of the colonial era. Since they not only were symbolic of status and power, but themselves constituted wealth, silver objects often reflect the finest workmanship and the newest styles. As the tradition of the craftsman’s shop gave way to the factory in the nineteenth century, silver became more widely available to the growing middle class, and the variety of its forms and uses expanded, as well. The Brooklyn Museum’s collection of silver spans these eras, from the craft production of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, through the industrialization of the nineteenth, and into the revival of interest in the craft process in the twentieth. You can see additional silver from the collection in the Decorative Arts galleries on the fourth floor.

  • Visible Storage: Case 24, Screen A (Paintings)
    The Brooklyn Museum holds collections of colonial art from the Dutch and English settlements on the eastern seaboard, as well as from the vast Spanish colonies in Peru, Mexico, and what is now the southwestern United States. These works, created during the period before independence in these regions, form the chronological beginnings of the Museum’s collections of American paintings.

    Artists in all of these thriving colonial cultures drew on European models and conventions. Those traditions were sometimes communicated to them through artists immigrating or visiting from Europe; more often, they were introduced by means of imported paintings and, especially, prints. In Spanish and North American colonial portraits alike, artists adapted the postures, costumes, and background accessories of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European painting to denote the social standing of the sitter. Portrait painting dominated the mostly Protestant North American markets well into the nineteenth century. The preponderance of religious subjects by Latin American artists, on the other hand, reflects the influence of the Catholic Church’s efforts to sustain the faith of Spanish colonial populations and to convert indigenous peoples. The Spanish colonial devotional images displayed here are also based on European visual traditions, but many of these religious paintings were greatly enriched and localized by the incorporation of images of indigenous peoples, places, flora, and fauna.

    Although North American and Spanish colonial paintings were once relegated to the status of provincial reflections of mainstream European culture, recent study has demonstrated that artistic practice in political and economic colonies was not exclusively a one-way matter of cultural dependency. The Brooklyn Museum’s collections of colonial art offer us many opportunities to see the ways in which local artists and patrons at first employed and then adapted and even transformed such imported elements to serve local requirements and, as time passed, to increasingly reflect their own values.

  • Visible Storage: Case 25
    The attribution of this unusual table is based on similarities of detail, particularly the curtain rod–like element below the top, which also appears on a cabinet the firm displayed at the Centennial Exhibition in 1876. The style of the table is termed néo-Grec and refers to a new interest in classicism that emerged during the Second Empire in the 1860s in France and during the 1870s in the United States. The table’s white, or ivory, finish, a rare surviving example, is also French-inspired and looks back to examples from both the ancien régime of the eighteenth century and the Empire style popular under Napoleon I in the early nineteenth century.

  • August 2004: The Luce Center for American Art will be significantly expanded with the opening of the 5,000-square-foot Visible Storage/Study Center, providing public access to some 1,500 objects from the Brooklyn Museum’s renowned collection of American painting and sculpture, as well as material from the rich holdings of the Decorative Arts, Native American, and Prints, Drawings and Photographs collections. Designed to provide a glimpse of the breadth and scope of the Museum’s enormous American collections, the Visible Storage/Study Center is scheduled to open on January 14, 2004. It will be located in galleries adjacent to the first phase of the Luce Center for American Art, American Identities: A New Look, the critically acclaimed 2001 reinstallation of some 350 works from the Museum’s American painting and sculpture collection, presented with related objects from the decorative arts, Native American, and Spanish colonial holdings.

    Established by a $10 million grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, the Luce Center for American Art, comprising 17,000 square feet, encompasses the new Visible Storage/Study Center and American Identities: A New Look.

    “By offering far greater access to the Brooklyn Museum’s superb collections of historical American paintings, watercolors, sculpture, and decorative arts, this center will be a preeminent resource for the study of American art in the United States,” said Henry Luce III, Chairman Emeritus of the Henry Luce Foundation.

    “The Luce Foundation has provided a great gift to the people of the City of New York and, indeed, to students, scholars, and the general public from all over the world,” comments Museum Director Arnold L. Lehman. “This remarkable presentation is an important and dramatic example of the Brooklyn Museum’s mission to improve the visitor experience and to provide increasingly enhanced accessibility to its collections.”

    The Visible Storage: Study Center, an interdepartmental collaborative project, is being directed by Linda S. Ferber, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of American Art and Chair, Department of American Art. Other members of the curatorial team include Barry Harwood, Curator, Department of Decorative Arts; Charlotta Kotik, Chair, Department of Contemporary Art; Elizabeth Easton, Chair and Judith Dolkart, Assistant Curator, Department of European Painting and Sculpture; Marilyn Kushner, Chair, Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs; Nancy Rosoff, Andrew W. Mellon Curator and Chair of Arts of the Americas; Kevin L. Stayton, Chief Curator; Susan Kennedy Zeller, Assistant Curator, Arts of the Americas, and Karen Sherry, Project Coordinator. It is designed by Matthew Yokobosky, Chief Exhibition Designer.

    Displayed in a much more compact fashion than in a gallery presentation, objects will be organized in much the same manner as they are in closed storerooms, by medium and type-such as “pewter objects” or “bronze sculptures.” Visitors will enter the galleries by glass doors, through which masses of lighted Tiffany lamps may be seen. Two large, glass-walled bays will contain nearly six hundred paintings, all on rolling racks, which will be periodically rotated to show selections from the Museum’s holdings. This new area will also contain glass-walled storage for large- and small-scale sculptures. Double-tiered storage will display American and Spanish colonial furniture, as well as silver, ceramics, and glass.

    The new facility will also have areas where small focused exhibitions will present rotating selections of works on paper, decorative arts, paintings, and sculpture. For the opening, the decorative arts displays will be Metamorphic Furniture presenting furniture with more than one use, including a late nineteenth-century upright piano that converts to a bed, as well as a presentation of nineteenth-century wallpaper. The first rotations for the works-on-paper area, Watercolors by the American Pre-Raphaelites and An Artist Abroad: The Sketchbooks of William Trost Richards, have been selected from the rich holdings of the American Art Department and Prints, Drawings, and Photographs departments.

    Throughout the new Visible Storage/Study Center, select objects will be highlighted with in-depth information on conventional wall labels, but most works will be identified only by the Museum identifying accession number. This number will be the key to locating information about the object in an on line catalogue by using one of several computers in Visible Storage. Images of all objects in the presentation will also be available online, allowing closer views of the works displayed. View Original