Monday, March 31, 2014

Campus Closed Today

ETA:  It seems the Colonial Milieu Teams has already left for campus, so I'm now going in from Noon-1:30, latest.

I see from the SacCT threads that some of you are planning to go in today. Campus is closed in honor of Caesar Chavez Day. However, I am willing to open the Museum Lab between 1 and 2 pm, if that is helpful to anyone. Carrie is sending out an email to remind everyone that there are no official lab hours. If you would like to meet between 1 and 2, let me know. Otherwise, I'll see you all tomorrow in our classroom.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014

Art of the Didactic Panel

One of toughest jobs for an exhibit curator (even one who is a seasoned writer) is to compose didactic panels that orient museum-goers to a particular topic or theme.  Why? Because they must distill complicated chronologies, concepts and theories into a meaningful and easy-to-understand paragraph or two. One hallmark of the curatorial amateur is an exhibit gallery overwhelmed by text. Don't try to transfer an entire book onto a wall. Museum-goers will take one look at your book-on-the-wall and just move on. Yet without core information, the imagery and objects in your exhibit will lack valuable contextualization that relates them to the larger exhibit concept. When you write your team's primary didactic panel, remember that we are focused on the meeting of worlds--two of those being the worlds of sentiment and of science. Stay focused on those themes as you write. And remember that less is more.  Here are two didactic panels from the Spurlock Museum. Notice that brevity doesn't translate into lack of important content. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Emu objects

Here is a comparative photo that verifies that what we have is an emu, not ostrich, egg (this points to the importance of re-examining old catalog entries). The cameo is correctly identified as emu. And here is an emu chick (new arrival) at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History (just for fun). Looking forward to seeing both the egg and cameo exhibited and interpreted by the Colonial Milieu team.
Emu Cameo; c. 1890, Beardsley Collection,
Anthropology Museum, Sacramento State 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Video Resource

This resource is posted for everyone in our class, but especially for the Tasmanian Sojourn and Colonial Milieu Teams.  You may need to log into your university account to watch it (2007, 52 mins).

Her Will to Survive: Tasmania, 1803 to 1880—First Australians

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Exhibit Team Design Finalization

Each exhibit team needs to continue working to finalize elevation and schematic design and to complete research necessary to produce interpretive panels. (FYI: I uploaded Nancy's professional rendering of the museum gallery floor. Use it to produce your exhibit schematic and to mockup your elevations. In case it helps to know, the cases are 1 meter square, and 3 meters tall.)

Begin the search and capture process for any archival graphics that you intend to you use. Be sure to record the URL for these as you or Nancy may need to download higher res versions. I will prepare a team checklist this weekend; it will be submitted on the Tuesday following Spring Break (along with all the necessary digital files). 

Once you have collectively finalized your conceptual and physical design (this must be done by next Tuesday), you should organize your team so that Carrie and I will have a single point-person for each of the following 1) images 2) Beardsley artifacts 3) props and 4) text (all interpretive panels and label copy). You'll need a different team member for each scope.  Once you've made these assignments, post them to your blog (post your entire team's membership and scope--not just your own).  

I'm not sure we are going to have time to paint.  We may have to work with Marigold Madness. I think it can be done.  Next week we have two guest speakers, so don't depend on that class time to collaborate. Use open lab hours or arrange meeting times among yourselves. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

George's Paternal Grandfather

Our exhibit title, Sentiment and Science, is turning out to have deeper relevance than we might have anticipated. Amos F. Beardsley, Sr. (GF's British-born grandfather) was not only a surgeon, he was 
  • a member of the Victoria Institute (aka Philosophical Society of Great Britain), founded in 1865
  • a Fellow of the Linnean Society
  • and a Fellow of the Geological Society
The Victoria Institute was trying to reconcile the Bible with the geological evidence of the time. While they were clearly committed to making them "square" with one another, it doesn't appear that they were all catastrophists (according to some of the Transactions I've read today), which brings us back to Lyell's Principle of Uniformitarianism, and to the Mount Lyell Mining Company in Tasmania. See what I did, there?

You can read the Google e-book Faith and Thought, Journal of the Victoria Institute to find out more (Parallel Lives Team). 

Expositions, Empire, UE

I sent an email to this affect last night, but I want to remind everyone, not just those of you on the Colonial Milieu team, that there are many archival resources available online. Here, I am featuring graphics and text from a piece of ephemera I pulled off the Internet Archive. There is nothing like a primary source (and especially one related to world fairs/expositions) for demonstrating the relationship between empire, colonization and evolutionism. The little snip of text I have posted below demonstrates the sociopolitical "logic" of unilinealism as it was developed and deployed in the service of conquest and colonization. I hope the Colonial Milieu team will also use this booklet to integrate a discussion of GFB's collecting of botanical and oological specimens (see the exhibit headings), as these instantiate the taxonomic obsessions of late 19th century natural history.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Calling All Painters

Since everyone in this class needs lab hours, let's settle on a color for the walls (clearly it will take quite a few coats to cover "Mexican Mask Marigold"--or whatever that is). If we get organized, we can get this done over the course of the next two weeks.  Nathan kindly brought some paint chips in on Thursday and at least three of the teams were in the lab to have a look. Tuesday, after story board presentations, we will land on a final color and I'll see if Home Depot might donate some or all of the necessary paint and painters tape. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Burke Museum Archaeology Research Fellowship

This fellowship is a wonderful opportunity for students (graduate or undergraduate). Contact me or Dr. Fisher for additional information.

Alice's Passport Application

In case you haven't opened any of the zip files I uploaded to SacCT, you should do so as soon as possible in your team's storyboard process. At right is Alice's passport. In the Grand Tour file you'll find the trip itinerary, which ought to inspire some of you to think about the world of privilege she inhabited in San Francisco, the origin of many of the artifacts in the collection, the world of late 19th century empire on which her life was emplotted, and the sensibility that Alice would surely have brought to her marriage and Tasmanian soujourn. Everyone should read the tour journal, regardless of the team to which they are assigned.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Not our George

This is among the documents I uploaded in one of four zip files to SacCT. I just wanted to draw your attention to the fact that I'm not sure who this Geo. Beardsley is (not our GF, and perhaps no relation to our Beardsleys). On the other hand, he might be a collateral relative of George's father Amos,  but such a connection hasn't materialized thus far.  I'll keep trying. For now, ignore this document in the file.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Exhibit Teams and Blackboard Discussion Threads

By now, you all know at least one of your team members, since you are paired up to work on your Deed of Gift assignments. But you also need to be developing conversations/discussion threads within your individual Blackboard groups so that you can 1) begin research in the scholarly literature that relates to your unit of the exhibit 2) begin to identify and flesh out your team's interpretive components (didactic panels, photographs, maps, ephemera, artifacts, props and arrangements you feel will bring your section of the narrative to life), and 3) start to think about how you'll want to divide up fabrication tasks among yourselves.

On the larger class level, we still have a couple conversations that need to be continued collectively. First, there is the issue of the exhibit title. Drop into that discussion thread and share your thoughts. Do this not simply because it is a graded assignment, but also because exhibit development works exactly this way--with people bringing their creativity, quirky differences, life experiences, individual talents and scholarly perspectives to bear on a problem. We also need to develop a schematic for the entire exhibit, defining how the space (conscripted by walls, the lighting and the built-in exhibit cases) will be used. We have many options still for using the space and plenty of movable exhibit furniture. So give it some thought and we will discuss this on Tuesday, with an understanding that teams will design storyboards around a basic schematic that can still be changed as we continue the design process.