1997 Cross-Country Tour of Museums
by Jill Berarducci
- At the end of February, John Hazeltine
and Jill Berarducci (father and daughter team) set out on a marathon cross-country
tour on behalf of the upcoming John and Barbara Hazeltine Museum of American
Art, HMAA. To aid in planning, John and Jill met with representatives of
art museums from Pittsburgh to Tucson. The 12-day driving excursion was
informative and memorable.
- The tour's purpose was also to promote advocacy of traditional American
art and to make networking contacts. Jill and John explained how HMAA is
the first on-line museum that will specialize in traditional American art
with resources such as articles, exhibit and event listings, research,
a book store, unidentified works of art and of course, virtual presentations
of paintings and sculptures. Since this type of museum is new to the art
and museum community, the team set off to learn viewpoints, gain feedback,
obtain new ideas and establish relationships.
- From Jill's diary...
- Our trip began in Pittsburgh, at the Carnegie Institute. The architecture
and grand scale of the museums was an impressive sight, a "smaller
Smithsonian." We met with Robert Gengewere, Chief Editor of "Carnegie
Magazine," professor and scholar. We discussed community education
using multimedia opportunities such as CD-ROM's, screen savers, internet
and on-line resources. The Carnegie has a professional web presence and
first-class magazine edited by Mr. Gengewere. Further multimedia developments
are currently being explored. We look forward to hearing about his upcoming
- After our meeting, we received a splendid guided tour where we enjoyed
the extensive and exquisite Library, the Gems and Minerals Museum, the
Natural History Museum (incredible original dinosaur bones!), Carnegie
Music Hall, and finally the many exhibits within the Museum of Art. Mr.
Gengewere's history of the Carnegie Museum and Andrew Carnegie as a philanthropist
was extensive and informative.
- From Pittsburgh, we visited the Indianapolis Museum of Art where we
met with Bret Waller, Director. In our meeting with Mr. Waller, a common
concern was established that other museum directors mentioned in upcoming
meetings. The concern was that being on the web will not generate sufficient
direct income to cover the online presentation expenses, or that indirect
income will be hard to measure through having an on-line presence. We discussed
how Web presentations enable people from remote areas to view the collections.
We appreciated the time spent with Mr. Waller, and enjoyed the extensive
- The Indianapolis Museum of Art had a substantial representation of
American art and a first-class French Impressionist exhibit. The museum
published "The Passage," a luxurious catalogue that traces the
progress of a generation of Hoosier artists who studied together at the
Royal Academy of Painting in Munich in the 1880s and returned to the United
States to achieve national prominence as Indiana landscape painters. The
book is listed in TFAOI's "Books, CD ROM's and
St. Louis... Feb. 27
- Our next meeting was at the St. Louis Museum of Art with Kay Porter,
Director of Community Relations and marketing evangelist! This enjoyable
two and a half-hour meeting was held in the museum restaurant, which was
featuring Italian cuisine, an extension of the Italian exhibit taking place
through March. Due to extensive research and testing, Ms. Porter had excellent
knowledge upon which to help management and curators base decisions on
marketing the museum to many niches. Although the museum is creating a
web presence, interactive media has been developed in Ms. Porter's department
and is being explored for further uses.
- From St Louis, we traveled through Missouri and on to Oklahoma to the
Gilcrease Museum and the Philbrook Museum of Art, both located in Tulsa.
- Once we reached Tulsa, our first visit was at the Gilcrease Museum
- unique to all the museums we visited because of the breadth of the collection
- over 300,000 objects. Impressed by this comprehensive collection of art
of the American West, we visited paintings and bronze sculptures by Thomas
Moran, Frederic Remington, Charles Russell and George Catlin. We had a
wonderful lunch at the museum where we looked out at the rolling hills
from the restaurant's windows. We met with Brooks Joyner , Director of
the Museum and Ken Busby, Assistant to the Director.
- Like many museums, the Gilcrease is receiving numerous requests throughout
Tulsa to host their Web site and to assist in its production. Due to the
distance to major transportation hubs form the Gilcrease, the museum is
looking beyond their immediate community for traffic to their institution.
Those who have created a site know there are additional costs not obvious
in the beginning plans for the project. If the decision is to go forth
with an online presence, sponsorships or partnerships can be negotiated
within the community to ultimately produce and manage the site. With this
in mind, they are taking the Web seriously.
- Our next visit, at the Philbrook Museum of Art, led us
the the estate of the Waite Phillips family, now a beautiful, privately
funded museum that was once the home of Waite Phillips, independent oilier
and brother of Frank Phillips, oil industry entrepreneur of Phillips 66
gas stations. Built in 1926 - 1927, the family moved into the home in 1927
and stayed until 1938. At that time they formed a board of trustees and
became a museum in 1939. The museum now has contributions from Samuel Kress'
Italian Renaissance collection as well as a collection of American Renaissance,
French, American Indian and African artists. We met with David Singleton,
Deputy Director, who offered his view on the operations, new processes
and systems from a private museum's perspective.
Oklahoma City...Mar. 2
- We enjoyed our stay in Tulsa and were amazed at the growth of the suburbs.
Tulsa's newly developed areas mirrored our neighborhoods in California.
Onward, we were off to a brief tour of the National Cowboy Hall Of Fame
in Oklahoma City where we admired the "Frederic Remington American
Artist" exhibition. We also viewed collections of major works by Charles
Russell, Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt and William R. Leigh. From the
Cowboy Hall of Fame, we were "On the Road Again" (appropriate
contribution to Willie Nelson).
Santa Fe...Mar. 2
- Driving through the flat lands of Texas and New Mexico,
we started to long for the rolling hills of the Ozark Mountains we previously
dismissed as being only bumps in the landscape. Our stay in Santa Fe was
scheduled over the weekend so we didn't plan any meetings.
- The beautiful blue sky and snow covering the sidewalks of Santa Fe
created a beautiful contrast against the adobe walls throughout the town.
On our "day off," we visited several galleries and the Santa
Fe Art Museum. We tried to lay low but found on many occasions it hard
to resist our temptation to network. While in town, we stayed at El Paradero
en Santa Fe, a restored Spanish farmhouse (505/988-1177, innkeeper Thom
Allen), and had dinner twice at the Cantina at La Casa Sena where we listened
to Broadway hits sung by the talented waiter and waitress staff. To follow-up,
conduct numerous meetings and enjoy more of Santa Fe, John and his wife,
Barbara, will be back in May.
- From Santa Fe, we drove a short distance to meet with Jim Moore, Director
of the Albuquerque Museum of Art. As we walked into Jim's office, we were
thrilled to see the TFAOI web site on his monitor! Jim was web savvy due
to many hours of research using the Internet. We had lunch with Jim at
La Placita, a historic restaurant on the Plaza in Old Town Albuquerque
- the sopapillas and flavorful dishes are hard to come by any where else
in the country.
- The galleries at the Albuquerque Museum of Art include Native American
artifacts, Albuquerque art and history (currently exhibiting "Common
Ground: Art in New Mexico from the Museum's permanent collection), Western
American art and a sculpture garden (presently featuring "Zones of
Experience: the Art of Larry Bell"). The unique nature of New Mexico
is presented throughout the museum.
- Our favorite lodging place for the trip was at the Hacienda
Antigua, a 200-year-old Albuquerque landmark (800/201-2986). The owners,
Ann Dunlop and Melinda Moffitt, were gracious in their hospitality and
had excellent taste in decor and ambiance.
- On our drive to Arizona, we took our time taking in the Native American
culture. We stopped at Acoma, a preserved historic adobe and stone village
on top of a mesa overlooking the surrounding valley. The history and culture
is interesting and the picturesque views are unique to anywhere in the
- Once we arrived in Phoenix, we met with Jim Ballinger,
Director at the Phoenix Museum of Art. This museum recently opened a new
wing, adding 65,000 square feet of gallery space, theaters, audio-visual
centers and special learning places for children. It will provide new galleries
to display many more of the 13,000 works of art which a space shortage
prevented showing. Touring the museum, we enjoyed beautiful American landscape
and figurative paintings in the American and Western Art Galleries.
- Mr. Ballinger brought several important issues to the table and made
us aware of his standpoint from a non-technical perspective. We learned
how new systems, programs and development have the potential to lead the
museum astray from its mission to the community. Mr. Ballinger's concerns
were well taken. We enjoyed our meeting with Mr. Ballinger; we learned
new angles and had a fine lunch in the Museum's restaurant.
- From the Phoenix Museum of Art, we went to the Fleischer Museum in
Scottsdale. This private museum opened in 1990. During our visit, the "East
Meets West, American Impressionism" exhibit was on display. This created
an enjoyable comparison between Connecticut and California Impressionist
artists. The attractive building that displays the art complements the
nature of the collection. At the Fleischer we briefly met with the museum's
founder, Morton Fleischer.
- The last leg of this Cross-Country Networking Tour brought us to Tucson.
After traveling for ten days, we were grateful for the hospitality from
family friends, Jim and Grace Murphy. During our visit, we met with Robert
Yassin, Director of the Tucson Museum of Art. After two and a half hours
of in-depth conversation, we left the museum with new excellent insights.
We were delighted to discuss several issues, one being that it is very
important, with the rise of online technology, to reinforce that online
displays of art should not and do not replace the experience of being in
the presence of original work of art. Children of the future should not
be led to believe that by seeing art on their computer screen, the art
is real and a replacement for experiencing the original work. We enjoyed
all asepect of this meeting and look forward to future conversations with
- We are appreciative of everyone we met with. We learned an incredible
amount by listening to their anecdotes, points of view and visiting their
fine facilities. For anyone planning to soon visit the United States, we
earnestly encourage them to visit these museums.
This page was originally published in 1997 in Resource
Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more
information. rev. 10/28/11
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