Questions from the Wall

Two posts in one day is hardcore for me. 

There is a nice pile of comments and questions on our wall, which means it is time to answer them with some sarcasm. Per usual we will start with the comments first.

-Organ inners are “way cool” – J. Koury

-Wonderful and beautiful collection! This place is a hidden gem :)

-I like all the flowers and benches 

-Have more hentages! (I don’t know what this means, is it bad?)

-I am getting married here today :) Danny (May 24) – Congrats! I hope you didn’t touch any of the art…cause I will find you if you did.

Questions:

Q: Why does Abe (Lincoln) look SO OLD?

A: Because he is super dead. 

Q: Do you wanna build a snowman?

A: No, not at all… this last winter was enough cold for a decade.

Q: Why is the house shaped so exotically?

A: The house went under a series of transformations over the course of 30 years. Each of these modifications brought new shapes to the home’s overall design. It becomes exotic because of these changes, as well as the incorporation of various artistic styles. Mrs. Sloane liked to mix things up.

Q: Identify the trees.

A: No

Q: Why is there so many doors?

A: The Sloanes liked opening things.

Q: What are you?

A: I am a male. 

Q: Was the vault part of the original house?

A: Yes. The family did have a vault to stash all of their silver and gold objects should a situation arise.

Q: Offer a hidden doors of the Hermitage tour and show the closets, back stairs, etc.

A: The hidden doors tour would last all of ten minutes. The things that you can’t see/get in are left shut for a good reason. We use many of these locked spaces for storage and places for HVAC units…no touchy for you. 

Leveling Up

There are two things that I have consistently participated in since my childhood – surfing and playing video games. Sadly, my dreams of becoming a pro surfer fell short in college. That, however, did not stop me from getting really decent* at winning in the digital world. I have dabbled in many genres of gaming but have come to love RPGs, or Role Playing Games. There is nothing quite like taking a nobody bard from a generic fantasy town and turning him ( I have played as female characters so spare me your sexism ) into the most powerful being in the land. Crushing dragons, orcs and goblins is but part of my journey, as I also pay great attention to the lore of the lands. Eventually you put down the controller and realize you have invested 100 real hours in this world and are told you should feel ashamed by your peers for doing so.

HA!

I never do.

Instead I am left with a void in my human form - I like playing as elves in the digital realm because of their intelligence stats - which challenges me to find RPG like qualities in the museum world. Odd you might say, but in reality all I do is handle treasure all day. In fact some of these objects passed through the hands of ancient kings and emperors, some were mined from the darkest tunnels and others were forged in the kilns of the greatest artisans.

Every single day in the museum is like working in the halls of Erebor…minus Smaug. There is no better position than the one that surrounds you with the treasures of hundred of cultures. So even when I am not lost in a fantasy world of magic I continue to boost my stats and level up.

So go forth and find your own quest to get lost in.

 

* There is a professional gaming league now. People are getting paid six figures to play video games.  Because of this I can no longer call myself  “good” at gaming.

Wall Thoughts

Our question wall has turned a serious corner and has become the hottest posting spot for the most non sequitur ramblings I have seen in quite some time. Here are a few charmers…

-So Abraham Lincoln was a vampire hunter after all? Amazing! (False, he is the first king of Mars.)

-I just want Skylar Lyman to marry me …. (Not happening bro, she likes Justin.)

-When can you have pizza anytime? (You can have it after more punctuation.) 

-Hear da goat? (Maybe.)

-Where are the snacks? (This is a legitimate question that I want answered too.)

-mine turtle (What?How? Who? I am so confused…)

-When was phone? (Mr. Watson. Come here. I want you.)

 

On with the real questions.

Q: What did the car look like?

A: They had several so here are two…

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Q: What’s with the tiny desk and chair in the broom closet?

A: That is where I put people who touch the art even though there is a sign that says “do not touch the art.”

 

Q: No map of the top floor?

A: Nope. If you had that you would know where my favorite bathroom is…and we just can’t have that.

 

Q: Do you have nontraditional art?

A: MMMmmm… depends on where you are going with this. What is your definition of nontraditional? Do we have melting corpses, fields of unfulfilled dreams or Mathew Barney’s CREMASTER Cycle? Nope, we do not. There are contemporary shows here if that is what you are going for.

You must remember that nontraditional to someone might be traditional to another. What does a Mongolian who has never left the steppe think of 17th century Flemish landscape painting? He might appreciate 3/4 sky to 1/4 land ratios, but that’s about it.

 

Q: Does the hermitage ever sell or lend its artifacts to other museums?

A: We do loan quite often. Sell not so much.

 

Q: What happened to the Sloane children?

A: They grew up, lived, and then died. Feeling totes macabre today. But seriously, both William Jr. and Edwin were outstanding philanthropists whose contributions to the arts in Virginia and Texas (where William ended up) are still being appreciated today.

 

Q: Was that a toaster in the dining room?

A: It was not! Great find though! It is a foot warmer. Did I blow your mind?

 

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I polished the silver

You might think you have muffled your voices during gatherings at the Herm, but trust me when I say that I hear everythiiinggg….

Oh, I know what you think should be done, could be done, or think you can do better than moi. Once my tears of failure have finished drying in my pillow I try my hardest to accommodate your many thoughts and opinions on collections management.

One such neglect is that silver you all know how to clean so well and I do not. HA! 

Being a man of low standards both in the dining room and life, silver has had very little impact on my development. While it may not be my field of interest it does need to be cleaned from time to time. Over polishing is not the way to go people!

You will be happy to see that I spent the day gently caressing each piece. 

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Do you see the shine shooting out that case! Radiance!!!!

Repatriation

Welllcoomee backk. Your dreams were your ticket outtt. 

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News on the return of our (their?) painting is popping up across South Korea.  As we prepare our own U.S. press release it seems only fitting that I step in now to stamp my seal of randomness on the entire event. In truth, this has been one of the most amazing experiences I have taken part in during my young life.  The hospitality and professionalism with which the Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation demonstrated has made this entire journey as smooth as mixing soju with beer (cultural reference, check).

So where to begin…

Probably the best place to start is in Korea somewhere between 1910 and 1940 during Japanese occupation. At that time Japanese art dealers made quick work of removing objects from the peninsula and then shipping them to galleries across the U.S. and Europe. Our particular piece was cut from a temple, rolled up and moved to good’ol Merica by means of Yamanaka and Co. For those not in the know Yamanaka was one of the most prominent Asian antiquities dealers in the first half of the twentieth century with galleries in New York, Chicago and Boston. Our proprietor, Florence Sloane, was an adamant lover of Asian art. She was also a hound when it came to sniffing out deals. Quite possibly the greatest deal on Asian art came during WWII when the Alien Property Custodian of the United States of America began to liquidate Yamanaka’s stock because…well…he was Japanese and we weren’t having any of that. 

As early as 1943 this painting came up to auction at a cost of $6,000.00. It is possible that the work made an appearance at an earlier sale, however, the oldest sale catalogs we have show it available in 43.

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( I suck at scanning…get over it)

 

Apparently nobody thought six grand was a good deal because the painting was shelved and would not reappear until 1944. In our records there is mention of the price dropping to $2,000.00, but there is no discussion as to what gallery is offering that particular price.

Fast forward to May of 1944. A four day auction at Parke-Bernet Galleries in NYC brings the work back out at a Black Friday deal-buster price of $450.00 (less than an Xbox One!).  Florence quickly snatches up the painting along with a few other goods. By June 5th everything is paid for and prepped to journey to the second drunkest city in the U.S (ca. 2013)….Norfolk, Virginia.

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So then we hung that beauty on the wall, right? Wrong. It went into storage until 1954 when E.K. Sloane, Florence’s youngest son, loaned it to the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences (better known as the Chrysler Museum today).  It remained in a stairwell there before it was brought down in 1973 and returned to the Sloane mansion. For close to thirty years it remained in storage before we began to look around for someone to conserve the work in the mid 2000′s. 

The Virginia Association of Museums (VAM) started an amazing endangered artifact program where we made the list! I never win anything so I am still excited to finally place in something. This little nugget of recognition found its way to the OKCHF last year where we then began the talks that would see this painting returned to the Republic of Korea. 

Here is a photo montage of what happened during that period.

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“Yep, it’s a painting of Buddha.”

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“So then she said…” (they wait with abated breathe) 

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Checking out the material it was painted on and patched with. Silk and Hemp.

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It looks like I am saying something important when, in fact, I am surrounded by some of the most well known scholars in the field of Joeson dynasty painting.

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I think we call this “getting schooled.”

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Big crate for a big painting. 

There are actually very scholarly things to say about all of this and I promise you that they will appear in time.  For now just enjoy the humor and should you have serious questions I will welcome them with open ears.

Links:

http://www.arirang.co.kr/News/News_View.asp?nseq=155751

 

http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/culturesports/2014/01/07/41/0701000000AEN20140107005700315F.html

 

Also, if you aren’t a fan of Kotter then you can find your way to the Internets exit door.

We continue to be a museum

My absence from the blog is nothing unusual so we will skip the apologies and just get straight to the meat.

Some end of the year highlights include:

We made a book

We are a Smithsonian Affiliate

We returned a Korean painting to South Korea where it will be repaired and then put on display after conservation.

That pretty much sums up November-December of last year. The last bit (regarding the painting) will be fleshed out further following press releases in Korea and then our own in about a weeks time. It is some pretty cool stuff and something the museum is very proud of.

Lucky for me I got to go to South Korea with the piece and say goodbye. I also met some amazing people who are now forever tied to the Hermitage (Ha! suckers…).

Here are a few pics of yours truly looking adorable in all sorts of winter wear.

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We visited Tongdosa in southeastern Korea where the painting might be exhibited one day.

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I had probably the most excellent tea drinking session of my life.

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That big building in the back is the new home for the painting. The National Museum of Korea.

There will be a nice write-up about all of this soon enough.

 

So what are the plans for this year? Well, I have a registrar coming in to clean up my act…so that’s a start. We’ve got some All Star artist meetings in the next few weeks and we will be exhibiting Hiroshige prints in the summer. Plenty to like in the coming months so stay tuned to your emails and don’t immediately delete them :)

A Few Changes

Nothing crazy…promise. I just wanted to let all ten of you who read this blog know that some new staff voices will be appearing on the site in the near future. They won’t be dumping a bunch of dates and event info on here (at least not in bulk). Promise.

What you should be looking out for are some interesting articles on the happenings in and around the Herm. Lots goes on here that revolves around the history of the collection and family that doesn’t involve yours truly and it needs to be shared.

If they end up really blowing it I will take away their privileges.

 

Until then everyone just keep breasting the wind.

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