TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  The exhibitions
Author  :  Steve Price
Date  :  04-25-2000 on 06:32 a.m.
sprice@hsc.vcu.edu Dear Folks, Like Jerry, I was disappointed in the selections from the Wiedersburg collection of Turkmen that were exhibited in San Francisco. Now that I've had some time to reflect, I wonder whether this is actually because the rugs selected for display were, for the most part, lesser representatives of the collection or if my reaction had some other basis. I think the rugs might have looked a whole lot more impressive with decent lighting. When I think back at the exhibitions that I thought were highly satisfying (at ACOR-Chicago; ICOC-Philadelphia; ICOC-Hamburg, are examples that all come to mind), they had one thing in common: the rugs were visible. The ones in which I was disappointed (for example, the prayer rugs at ACOR-Denver and Wiedersburg's Turkmen at the most recent one), they were presented with very dim lighting. Perhaps just being in the presence of great rugs isn't enough for me. I really have to be able to see them to appreciate them. I doubt that this is a personal idiosynchracy. Is there a museum person in the readership who would explain just how much damage a rug suffers by exposure to a total of, perhaps 4 to 40 hours of light of normal room intensity? Steve Price

Subject  : 
Author  : 
Date  :  on

Subject  :  RE:The exhibitions
Author  :  Marvin Amstey
Date  :  04-25-2000 on 08:32 a.m.
Steve, et al. I can't answer your question, but I have a direct experience with lighting problems when the Rochester Museum hung the Vanishing Jewels exhibit. They talked in "lumens" and insisted that 11 lumens was enough. Well, 11 lumens is like trying the Abe Lincoln trick of reading a book by candlelight, only the candle is 20 feet away from the book. After a lot of yelling and screaming, they - the curators and conservators - agreed to increase the lighting to something reasonable. Perhaps a museum conservator is out there reading this and can give us a rational reason for their irrational behavior - at least as far as rugs are concerned. Most of these items were used in the bright sunlight in real life. As long as we are on exhibits, I found the exhibit at the Embassy Suites to be excellent. The pieces were lit properly, were easy to see at eye level and provided a great breadth of weaving. They may have profited a bit by having an independant reviewer describe the pieces instead of the owners. Best regards, Marvin

Subject  :  RE:The exhibitions
Author  :  Steve Price
Date  :  04-25-2000 on 09:01 a.m.
sprice@hsc.vcu.edu Dear Marvin, I agree that the ACOR exhibition in the hotel was first rate and a pleasure to see. It is impressive that it consisted entirely of pieces acquired by collectors in the San Francisco area during the past 10 years. Steve Price

Subject  :  RE:The exhibitions
Author  :  Jerry Silverman
Date  :  04-25-2000 on 02:00 p.m.
Not only was the hotel exhibition well-lighted, but one was free to "touch." I know this isn't necessarily very good for the rugs (my Saryk chuval in the Chicago ACOR exhibition had to visit Robert Mann's restoration facilities afterwards because all the picking fingers managed to separate a bit of selvege). But if one is appropriately gentle and has reasonably clean hands, I don't see how touching a piece materially shortens its lifespan. We all know how important issues like "handle" and "wool quality" are; these can only be assessed by actually touching the piece. The most astonishing delight for me was the "Early Seljuk Animal Carpet Fragment" (13th century, Anatolia, 4'0" x 2'6") from the Hecksher Collection. There was a sign beside it encouraging people to touch it. As this is only the fifth example of an early animal carpet to be discovered in Tibet since 1990, touching it was a rare pleasure. As for lighting issues, I agree that viewing pleasure (and full appreciation of the pieces) is directly related to ones ability to see the damn things. I'm surprised that the Textile Museum's displays of Turkmen bags wasn't mentioned as an archetypal example of murky illumination. Every time I visit, I want to grab one of those nice old ladies who work there and shake them until they turn on the lights. So far I've managed to restrain myself. (I know, I'm probably just being selfish - wanting to enjoy something and in doing so destroying it for posterity. But jeezlouise!, what's the point in keeping something meant to be seen in almost complete darkness?) As a corollary to this, why are so few rug exhibitions held in rooms with natural light?

Subject  :  RE:The exhibitions
Author  :  Mark+Hopkins
Date  :  05-02-2000 on 05:51 p.m.
I'd just like to add my two bits to the frustrating subject of museum lighting. When we did the Collector's Eye exhibition for ACOR 1 at the RI School of Design Museum of Art in 1991, we discovered with dismay that every rug was dramatized by a 10 watt yellow flood light that made the venue somewhat reminiscent of a Salvation Army meeting hall. When we appealed to the "curator", she said, "Sorry, that's our policy." We replied, "Look, these are our rugs and you have our full permission to give them as many foot candles as it takes to bring out their full beauty." To which she replied conclusively, "Sorry, it's our museum and that's the way we do things here." Well, scratch one museum from my year-end charitable list. At least at the Weidersperg show you could see the rugs. When the DeYoung did the Alexander show during the SF ICOC people were running around with cigarette lighters trying to see what the rugs looked like!

Subject  :  You wanna be able to see the rugs, too?
Author  :  Steve Price
Date  :  05-02-2000 on 06:13 p.m.
sprice@hsc.vcu.edu Dear Mark, It's supposed to be enough just being in the presence of great rugs. You want to see them, too? Man, you're tough to satisfy. As an aside, I've seen some fragments and ancient rugs that don't have much left but the foundation. These would show just as well in dark museums as they do in good light. Steve Price

Subject  :  RE:The exhibitions
Author  :  R. John Howe
Date  :  05-03-2000 on 06:50 a.m.
Dear Mark - I wasn't there, but I think I've seen an indication somewhere that the lighting at the Christopher Alexander exhibition was not so much a matter of tight museum standards but rather of Alexander's own lighting plan. The effects did generate controversy but it may be a somewhat distinctive case. I do share in this general complaint about poor lighting and noticed that it was intially quite hard to see the first piece as one entered the Wiedersperg exhibition. The TM has one case on the left as you enter its galleries that is famously dark. Museum conservation standards do seem more and more to be interfering with our ability to enjoy the rugs. For example, access to the TM collection has been increasingly restricted in the past few years. Regards, R. John Howe

Subject  :  RE:The exhibitions
Author  :  Patrick Weiler
Date  :  05-03-2000 on 12:34 p.m.
jpweil00@gte.net There was a room of rugs exhibited in the Chicago art museum (it has been several years since I was there)with generous light. The lighting did not differ from that of the museum in general. The Wiedersburg collection was poorly lit, to the extent that one was unable to appreciate the finer details of the rugs (which most Turkophiles find necessary for determining the relative quality of the weavings). Not to mention the "Don't Touch" policy. This meant no turning over of rugs for an appreciation of the structure, another feature relevant in comparing Turkmen rugs. Most of the rugs from the collection were not on display, nor were there any kilims from their extensive collection. Murray Eiland even commented at his seminar on the collection that he had been informed that the museum did not have more than 30 of the 80+ rugs on display. I would have thought that there would have been a little more communication with the museum people about this lack of rugs on display. It was a little bit like going to a museum see the crown jewels and finding a brooch on display, and no crown. There was a fabulous reception with copious finger food and plenty of water and wine. The museum speakers at the reception spoke glowingly of their commitment to acquiring a world class rug and textile collection. They must have a different view of what this means than the average rug lover who just wants to see the darned things. I guess we spoiled rug people do not appreciate the tremendous effort and expense it takes to show a collection of rugs. We would have liked to just have them stacked in piles of like-size rugs and be allowed to pull out the ones we liked, so we could pore over them on hands and knees. Patrick Weiler

Subject  :  RE:The exhibitions
Author  :  Jerry Silverman
Date  :  05-03-2000 on 02:58 p.m.
Thank you, Patrick, for giving me the opportunity to mention the "Mideast Meets Midwest" exhibition held at the Chicago Cultural Center during ACOR II. (My natural modesty had so far restrained me.) The room was large and high-ceilinged with floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides. Sixty-five pieces were displayed. They ranged in size from khorjins to main carpets. During the day the exhibit was illuminated by natural light (north, east, and west exposures) and halogen flood lights. In the evening...only the halogens. I found the difference interesting. It was as night and day. If you really wanted to see the colors of the pieces, the combination of natural and halogen lighting was as close to taking them out and laying them on the sidewalk as I've ever seen. But there's no beating the drama of halogen-illuminated color when the only lighting in the room is that thrown on the rugs. From a tactical standpoint I think we would be more successful in getting well-lighted exhibitions if we make it one of the very first issues raised in negotiations for exhibition space - before any deal is done and while the exhibition space managers still have an incentive to yield on such matters. Cordially, -Jerry-

Subject  :  Most Bizarre Museum Arrangement Ever
Author  :  Steve Price
Date  :  05-03-2000 on 09:10 p.m.
sprice@hsc.vcu.edu Dear Folks, All the complaining (by me and others) about museum lighting of rug exhibitions reminds me of the most bizarre arrangement I've seen in a museum's rug exhibition. This was the Turkmen exhibit (Wie Blumen in Der Wuste) at the Hamburg Museum fur Volkerkunde during the ICOC in Hamburg. The museum took charge of setting the exhibition up, actually locking the ICOC organizing committee out until opening time. They hung the room size carpets on the walls, with the lower foot or so of the carpets' length on the floor. Then they sprinkled sand on the floor, supposedly to give the visitor the feeling of being in a desert. You can imagine the chaos when the lenders found sand on their rugs, put there by the museum personnel. A number of pieces were removed by their owners within a couple of hours. And American museum people worry about light hurting the rugs! Steve Price

Subject  :  RE:The exhibitions
Author  :  Yon Bard
Date  :  05-04-2000 on 09:12 a.m.
Talking of bad lighting, anyone ever try to see the Ardebil at the V&A? And, at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts a few years ago they had an exhibition of pre-Columbian textiles with the usual (or worse than usual) dim lighting, and on top of that the captions were in one shade of gray on another! Regards, Yon

Powered by UltraBoard 2000 <http://www.ub2k.com/>