Interview with the Co-Curators of "Art for the Community: The Met's Circulating Textile Exhibitions, 1933-1942"
Saturday, March 13, 2021 My guests from The Metropolitan Museum of Art were: Elizabeth Cleland, Curator in the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, Eva Labson, Senior Collections Manager, Antonio Ratti Textile Center, Stephanie Post, Senior Digital Asset Specialist, Digital Department, and Giulia Chiostrini, Associate Conservator in The Department of Textile Conservation.
Between 1933 and 1942, The Metropolitan Museum of Art organized one of its especially noteworthy landmark educational initiatives to bring the Museum's collection to as many New Yorkers as possible. Called the Neighborhood Circulating Exhibitions, the series consisted of small, thematic displays of select artworks presented in New York Public Library branches, high schools, city universities, and settlement houses. The effort, which was developed in response to an inquiry from a high school teacher from Queens, reached more than two million visitors and is the focus of the exhibition Art for the Community: The Met’s Circulating Textile Exhibitions, 1933– 1942, on view through June 13, 2021. A project initiated in honor of The Met's 150th anniversary, pulled from The Met's permanent textile collection, image library, and archives recounting the development and history of The Met’s Circulating Exhibitions. The textiles exhibited range from Italian Renaissance velvet to French18th-century printed cotton and include the first showing in decades of The Met's exquisite cope made for Antonio Barberini, nephew of the infamous Pope Urban VIII. These highlights are joined by an extraordinary series of 1930s photographs capturing the original exhibitions, their locations, and their visitors, while the design of the installation itself evokes the past exhibitions.
The speakers shared behind the scenes stories of what it took to create this exhibition, described some of the objects featured, and also discussed the power that art and the museums have to create - and give - a sense of community.