Thursday, March 1, 2012

1000+ Visitors plus Cleveland Museum of Art: Bulletin of the Museum 1968-70

February marked a milestone for Lincoln in Cleveland: During the month this blog had more than 1,000 unique visits. While I've been flirting near the thousand mark for the past several months this is the first time I've hit that number. Thanks to everyone who's stopped by to read -- I always welcome comments and suggestions.

Since this week has been quiet (though Rachel and I are thinking about seeing Memphis at PlayhouseSquare Frideay) Below I continue with the series looking that the Cleveland Museum of Art, through old issues of its publication, The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art. All of the posts in the series, in reverse chronological order, can be found here.

My collection of Bulletins continues with September 1968. The format changed sometime in the 1960s and by the September issue, the bulletin no longer carries a issue or volume number and it is devoid of information about the Museum, instead presenting extensive essays on specific pieces.

This format continues in November 1968 but the back cover announces Design and the City: An Architectural Exhibition at The Cleveland Museum of Art from December 11 to January 12: It sounds interesting, and I wonder if any lasting change came out of it:
"...conceived by the Cleveland Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and brings together the interest of the public and professionals alike in planning for choesive improvement of the Metropolitan Cleveland Area. The ehxibit [...] consists of the efforts of over 60 architects, planners, engineers, and desigeners as well as numerous public officials of the city and the county, the Cleveland Board of Education, Case Western Reserve University, the Greater Cleveland Growth Association, and the Seven County Transportation Study. Interesting physical features of past and present Cleveland are shown together with possible directions for future planning of the city"
December 1968 through February 1969 are also again devoid of institutional infromation, but June 1969 includes the 1968 annual report which is full of gems, some foreshadow the Museum's current expansion and renovation projects. The new Educational Wing, designed by Marcel Bruer, began construction on June 17, 1968:

The curtailment of the Museum's exhibitions and activities -- due to a lack of classrooms or auditoria for the duration of construction -- is in fine focus, as is the work of the Museum's "inhabitants" -- which from the description has probably not changed much in the 43 years since, but in reading
"[68.206] is the Museum's registration number and has also been carefully painted onto the back of the painting by a member of the Registrar's Department. Here at least four cards must have been prepared [...] these are the permanant records by which the Museum mantains its inventory of works in the collection."
I have to assume that these cards (and the "notebook with much additional information gleaned from previous and continual research" maintained by the Paintings Department) have been supplanted by technology, but I'm sure the process is much the same. The introduction, announcing the addition of 365 new works to the collection and pinning completion of the Educational Wing Construction as 1970, continues "We are more certainly justfied than Mr. Micawber in repeating that, "Things will be much improved in the not too distant future" -- as it will be when the current renovation and expansion is concluded.

Although reports of individual departments are interesting, very little jumps out as being strongly relevent after 40 years, though it was interesting to read the Registrar's report noting a collection of 41,287 objects (I haven't been able to locate the 2011 current collectcion size), and Public Relations noting Museum attendance of 435,106, "a reduction attributed in part to inconveniences occasioneed by the construction of the new Education Wing."

The Printing department is proud to announce that a IBM Selectric Composer was installed to facilitate printing of some publications formerly printed outside. Admission to the museum continues to be free -- and Monday remains day off for the Museum's galleries, with normal hours being published as  Tuestday, Thursday, and Friday 10-6, Wednesday 10-10, Saturday 9-5, and Sunday, New Year's Day, and Memorial Day 1-6.

The February 1970 and February 1974 bulletins have little text but serves as an illustrated "Year in Review" for acqusitions from the previous year, and it's interesting to compare acquisitions over time and to see how many of the pieces from both I can recall seeing in the Museum's galleries -- somewhat suprisingly, I recognize more pieces from the 1970 edition.

June 1974 ends this tour through the Museum's history-via-Bulletin with the 1973 annual report. Light on institutional (vis collection) information, Betsey Belkin is noted as joining the Cleveland Museum of Art Library -- today, Ms. Belkin is Ursuline College's Director of Library. Also coming of note from the Library is the note that the circulating collection of the library's photography department has been phased out (with much of the contents donated to the Cleveland Public Library). This change makes the Museum's library for the first time completely non-circulating.

Burried near the end of the report, in the sea of text, "A decision was reached to permanently install The Thinker in its present damaged condition in front of the museum's south entrance. A bracket was designed and manufacturerd to support the sculpture on a new granite pedestal which was imported from Italy." -- it's easy to forget that the well-weathered and slightly deformed statute wasn't always the way we see it today.


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