1. I get a little nerdy about World War II Art history. Nazi pilfering the Louvre, professors from the American Ivies bribing jeeps off platoon leaders to inspect bombed churches, the hunt for the missing art as the war wound down (spoiler alert: austrian salt mines and bavarian castles). Certifiably. Nerdy.

    So naturally I geeked out a bit at this BombSight picture of Dame Myra Hess, concert pianist extraordinaire, performing lunch-time morale-booster concerts for beleaguered Londoners during the Blitz. Because, look! It’s a gallery filled with people but no art.

    Just before the war, with the very real threat of war with Germany hovering, the National Portrait Gallery began making plans to secretly stowe away many of the museums’ greatest pieces at Mentmore - the countryside estate of the fancypants Lord Rosemore. The NPG built a bunker in the basement for things they couldn’t move. They had packing drills using replicas of paintings to prepare staff to essentially rip paintings off walls and shove them in crates and boxes.

    By summers end the galleries were bare. Everything was moved to the gallery basements or out to the country. At Mentmore they carved out living quarters for four staff in the outbuilding they’d been given to store the artwork. They called it “the refuge”. They grew a victory garden. They took turns going into the city to see their families and checking in on the gallery.

    And even though they’d had to evacuate or stow up their collections, not to be seen again for years, the museum staff weren’t about to roll over. If they could give the people paintings or sculpture, they’d give ‘em music.

    Pretty badass, NPG. Pretty badass.

  2. Weekly highlight.

    Attempted beadwork at the Woodland Cultural Centre. It’s an itsy bitsy corn husk.

    Nailed it.

    Yeah. I actually didn’t and their 16 year old intern had to help me finish it because my threading skills were thoroughly subpar. New appreciation for the beautiful beadwork moccasins I saw at the Bata Shoe Museum. It takes a certain level of skills I clearly do not possess!

  3. Weekly highlight: seeing the unveiling of Ai Wei Wei’s zodiac sculpture series at City Hall.

  4. Today the peruvian couriers told me that because silver was so valuable in pre-colonial Peru, they’d sometimes plate gold in it.

    Silver plated gold.

    That’s pretty much unimaginable today.

    Image is a Peruvian Funerary Mask from the MET.

  5. cavetocanvas:

    John Sloan, Election Night, 1907

    Could this BE any more appropriate for tonight?

    (via icanseethecntower)

  6. Past Objects: Drunkometer

    One day while cleaning up the display cases I discovered, in one of the locked cabinets, the ORIGINAL breathalyzer: the Drunkometer.

    Essentially the testee would blow into a balloon. The air was then fed into a series of tubes filled with a chemical purple liquid. The more the colour changed the drunker they were.

    Honestly, I feel like we should have stuck with that name. It sounds like a carnival sideshow or a van wilder science experiment. Much more intimidating than breathalyzer.

  7. What am I most excited for tonight @ Toronto’s Nuit Blanche?

    Max Streicher inflatables.

    They’re like carnival balloons on crack. 

  8. hyperallergic:

    Over 1,500 US Museums Are Free This Weekend

    Feeling way jealous of the Americans who get to take advantage of this awesome opportunity! Free admission at museums from Iolani Palace in Hawaii to the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum in Maine. Happy museum-ing?!

  9. Past objects: Police baton with hidden whiskey flask.

    I won’t say that officers might have been sipping on contraband on the job, but I DID come across this in the inventory of a police museum.

  10. Past Objects: a mirror from ancient Etruria.

    I naively expected that ancient mirror would look a lot like our own, not accounting for, say years of layers of grime from being buried at archaeological sites. And, you know, tarnish over the past two or three millennia. The surface was anything but reflective. What I loved, however, were the decorative engravings on the back. We found engravings of Hercules battling the Amazonian queen Hippolyta, Etruscan Lasas, and homely scenes of women about their household duties.

    The photograph above is of a ancient Greek mirror at the Getty, decorated with a Medusa head. The painting is Venus at her Toilet by the Fontainebleau School (c. 1550).

    (Source: getty.edu)

  11. Past Objects: Kenojuak Ashevak prints,

    Finding some of these bad boys tucked in the top of the print drawers one morning was pretty much a dream come true. This is the stuff art history classes are made of, the building blocks of my entire bachelor’s degree. I didn’t squeal with excitement but it was damned close.


  12. Rejected internship report titles

    • The summer I learned how to spell Kwakwaka’wakw
    • Numeric dyslexia makes object numbering hard
    • Where in the world is this turd-burgling artist and would the sweet baby jesus please get them to CALL ME BACK.
    • 500 days of Peruvian Masks
    • If you accept that donation/purchase I will kill you and hide your body with the mummies.
    • I don’t really want to try on the Diablada masks - said no collections intern ever
    • Oops I broke an artifact.
    • I don’t have to listen to you because your museum doesn’t have beer-carton mocassins.
  13. It’s Sunday, again. Where has the summer gone?!

    1) I’m on vacation! Hence why there have been no new objects since Tuesday.

    2) Has anyone been following the #museumolympics tag on twitter? It started with the San Fran branch of the MOMA. Museums across the United States (and some international too) have been getting into the sporting spirit by posting athletic-themed art, objects, or specimens complete with sassy captions. Above is my current favourite courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum. I guess they’ve got to make up for that crystal somehow.

  14. What I worked on today: Charlene Vickers beer moccasins.

    No other explanation necessary.

  15. What I worked on today: northwest coast Baskets!

    Got to look at some gorgeous examples of Sto:lo basketry today. Small disagreement about whether or not to include one set of finely woven little bottles as, uhm, one has a band of mini swastikas around the middle. It was, I am fairly certain, made well before they’d taken on nazi symbolism, but it’s caused quite a commotion.