Pardon Our Appearance....
By Anne Bentley, Curator of Art
Pardon our appearance while we prepare for our new gallery in the second floor lobby…
We are about to install the first of a series of changing exhibitions in our new MHS “Treasures Gallery,” an intimate space designed to highlight the extraordinary materials in our collection. The art and sculpture have been cleared from the area and the Saltonstall Gun, our noble War of 1812 cannon, and “Paul and Virginie,” our pair of 18th century polychrome lead garden statues, have been moved across the landing in preparation for painting and the construction of display walls.
How does one move a 1,200-pound cannon and lead sculptures with fragile antique wire armatures? Very gingerly. A four-man team from U.S. Art Company, Inc. carefully positioned the cannon on heavy plastic before cinching it with straps and slowly hauling it across the marble floor to position it against the stair rail. Levers, shims, protective foam, and blankets all came into play as each phase of the move was planned and executed.
The MHS staff has moved the garden statues several times in the past: an unnerving experience which convinced us that they are best left to the professionals. The U.S. Art team shrink-wrapped each sculpture base to its wooden plinth, then eased the heavy plastic sheet under the plinth and secured it to a winch attached to a marble column.
With guardians to monitor the sculpture for any untoward movement, each statue was slowly pulled across the room, inch by inch, until the crew could position the sculpture by hand and lever out the plastic sheet.
After rehanging the front stair art, the crew was done and our space cleared for the next step to prepare the gallery for the first of our Treasures exhibitions, “’Like a Wolf for the Prey’: The Massachusetts Historical Society Collection Begins,” scheduled to open in the fall. Keep your eye on our website for more details.
| Published: Tuesday, 26 July, 2011, 8:00 AM
Photography Fun @ the MHS
This week members of the MHS staff had fun playing in our daguerreotype studio.
Come on in and join the fun by visiting History Drawn with Light: Early Photographs from the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, an exhibition currently on view at the MHS.
The exhibition is open to the public Monday through Saturday, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Bring your camera and strike your own pose.
| Published: Friday, 8 April, 2011, 8:00 AM
History Drawn with Light
In 1840, almost as soon as photography arrived in America, the Massachusetts Historical Society began to collect images of notable figures, artifacts, and landscapes recorded with "the pencil of nature." Examples of these early photographs will be on display through 3 June, 2011 in the Society's exhibition, History Drawn with Light: Early Photographs from the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Visitors can view one of Boston's oldest photographs, taken of the Old Feather Store by MHS Member Francis C. Gray, together with portraits and views by early daguerreotype artists such as Albert S. Southworth and Josiah J. Hawes, and the later work of professional and amateur photographers who documented 19th-century American history as it unfolded. The exhibition is free and open to the public, Monday through Saturday, 1 PM to 4 PM.
Read more in a recent review of the exhibition History Framed by New Technology by Mark Feeney of the Boston Globe.
| Published: Tuesday, 29 March, 2011, 8:00 AM
Quincys Take Center Stage
Our fall exhibit, Josiah Quincy: A Lost Hero of the Revolution officially opens on Saturday, and we hope you'll come by and see what we have on display. The show will be open to the public without charge, 1:00-4:00 p.m., Monday-Saturday, 23 October 2010 - 22 January 2011, except from 24 December 2010 - 1 January 2011, when the Historical Society is closed for a brief holiday season respite.k
Our October Object of the Month complements the exhibit: it's a watercolor of Col. Samuel Miller Quincy (1833-1887) in his Civil War uniform. Col. Quincy was the great-grandson of Josiah Quincy, Jr. "The Patriot," and edited his ancestor's legal notes (while stationed at Port Hudson during the Civil War, as Peter Drummey notes in the Object essay). He later served as "acting mayor" of New Orleans.
The exhibit celebrates the publication by the Colonial Society of Massachusetts of the final two volumes of Portrait of a Patriot: The Major Political and Legal Papers of Josiah Quincy Junior, edited by Daniel R. Coquillette and Neil Longley York, the first modern edition of the complete works of Josiah Quincy, Jr. (1744-1775). A brilliant young attorney - he was only twenty-six when, with John Adams, he defended the British soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials - Quincy was an ardent spokesman for the cause of liberty in Revolutionary Massachusetts, although his early death has made him less familiar today than many of his contemporaries.
The exhibition focuses on the Historical Society's manuscript sources for the new Colonial Society volumes, including Quincy's political and legal commonplace books, travel journals (he was a harshly critical observer of slavery in the American South), and the law reports that his great-grandson, Samuel Miller Quincy edited. In the exhibition, Josiah Quincy, Jr.'s personal papers will be shown in the context of the MHS's enormous archive of Quincy family papers--letters, diaries, drawings, artifacts, and paintings that document eight generations of this extraordinary family--including the watercolor portrait of Samuel M. Quincy on display as our Object of the Month.
| Published: Wednesday, 20 October, 2010, 8:09 AM
All That Glitters: Coins & Medals on Display
Our new exhibit, "Precious Metals: From Au to Zn" opens today (Monday, 2 August), with public hours from 1-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday through September. Special guest curator John W. Adams and MHS Curator Anne E. Bentley have mounted this show to highlight many of the rare and unique pieces in the collection. A sampling of what will be on view includes the New England three pence and shilling, the 1776 Massachusetts Pine Tree copper penny, a piece of original Massachusetts Bay stock, the February 1690/1 Massachusetts Bill of Credit, the full set of Washington-Webster silver Comitia Americana medals, Indian Peace Medals of colonial and federal issue, a number of Washington medals from the Baker series, and some fascinating pieces from the Vernon medal series.
"Precious Metals" is designed to complement the American Numismatics Association's World's Fair of Money, to be held 10-14 August at the Hynes Convention Center.
I had the chance to view the exhibit this morning, and it's really something to see (not to mention by far the shiniest exhibit I've ever seen at MHS). Do stop by and take a look.
| Published: Monday, 2 August, 2010, 8:33 AM