The European Splendour 1500-1800 exhibition opened on Friday 16 September in Ngā Toi | Arts Te Papa.
Our friends from Pukerua Bay School Museum: Aurelia (aged 9), Paddy (aged 11), Isaac (aged 12) and their teacher Cat Lunjevich, came to visit and spent time in conversation with our curators Justine and Mark. They have kindly written this post about their experience, and how it links to their museum too.
After our initial visit to Te Papa, we were invited to come on a special guided tour of Splendour with Justine Olsen (Curator, Decorative Arts and Design) and Mark Stocker (Curator, Historical International Art). Waiting for the tour was intense because we were all so excited. It was particularly exciting for Isaac because he has a special interest in 17th and 18th century British history, Rococo and royalty.
Our two best days at school ever have been our visits to Te Papa. When we arrived at Te Papa this time it had not opened yet, so we had to go under some red ribbon and we were the only ones at the exhibition. Splendour was so amazing!
Things we discussed together with Justine and Mark on the way around the exhibition were…
- How Splendour started off in churches and palaces and then began to go into people’s homes
- How to look at a painting as a curator or collection manager:
- Check its history and see if it has its original frame.
- Think about what items you are putting together e.g. religious paintings, royalty, or the same era.
- Ask – do the items complement each other?
- How to look at a painting as a visitor to the exhibition:
- Look for detail and colours.
- Look at the history caption and the artist.
- The collection was arranged so things that were similar were next to each other.
- Usually in a gallery the walls are white but not at Splendour. The deep colours were chosen because they looked more historic and regal.
- We looked closely at what things were made of, the wood on the chairs linked together like a puzzle and some of the fabrics had silver woven into it.
Seeing the Splendour exhibition has added ideas to our own museum. It has made us think about the colours for our upcoming Secrets of Art exhibition. We liked the labels that were with each item on display at Splendour and we talked about coming up with a format that we could use for our displays. This will also make it easier to display the information in our exhibitions. We are working on digitizing our catalogue and it was helpful to hear from Mark and Justine that this will make it easier to know what is in our museum when it gets bigger. We are getting lots of donations – the smallest being a seahorse that was found on Pukerua Bay Beach 20 years ago, and the biggest being a working Pianola!
We are trying to find ways to share our museum for kids who can’t read very well yet; or who have limited mobility and can not get in the museum door; or people who live far away and can’t visit. We are going to start a blog with YouTube clips, and might offer live tours on Skype. We want our museum to be interactive like Te Papa. Our ideas are: an art trail, a dress up box and displays that can not be broken or damaged by people playing. We play a game and have adapted it for Splendour. It is called ‘Name the Splendour Piece’ and it involves one person describing something in the Splendour exhibition and the other people have to guess it:
At the end of our tour of Splendour, we tried to decide which piece from the exhibition we would each take for Pukerua Bay School Museum if we were allowed to choose one. Isaac said he would take The Five Senses paintings, Aurelia wished for the painting that showed animals, and Paddy said he would like Mrs. Devereux. He calls her the thoughtful lady. Ms Lunjevich said she would take the cream silk dress.
The European Splendour exhibition is a magnificent exhibition. We highly recommend it but you need to visit more than once!