Worcester Museum of Art (Woostaa Museum av Aat)

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Worcester is pronounced “Woosta” in local dialect, yet everyone I met there seemed to be transplants who jokingly aspire to speak that way. There’s not much here on a short visit except historical buildings, associations with Paul Revere, Boston, and the reason I’m there, the Worcester Museum of Art. Their first contact with me was regarding an exhibition. A fellow named Adam Rozan, who’s been part of art establishments including OMCA (he left before SuperAwesome took place) contacted me with powerful enthusiasm.  I wondered what could they possibly want with me, and it turns out they have the second largest collection of armor in the US next to New York’s Metropolitan Museum. A samurai show is looming on their horizon, a date set, but the exact concept? In progress.

The Worcester Museum of Art is a grand space that’s a city block long. When you think of a museum in a “small” town of 180,000, which is the second largest city in New England after Boston, you wouldn’t think of something that’s akin to a county museum. Instead of focusing on perhaps the majesty of New England, the museum has a world wide focus. Antiquities, foreign objects, statues, rebuilt and relocated buildings, paintings from all eras and from the greatest masters, and more, this building was built in 1898 and has been remodeled and expanded over the years. It’s a serious museum that’s nearly out of place. Perhaps in 1898, Worcester was a metropolitan in the making and had the need to inform the people of the world’s triumphs. Today, it continues on it’s mission with a staff that feels strongly familiar.

It’s a challenge to work on a project almost blind and with a staff you don’t know so well. Yet, I’m not sure how it happens, but for some reason, some of my best work comes in conjunction with larger institutions, born out of creative meetings and being on the spot. Sincere ideas jump out, and they’re backed with actual thoughtfulness and confidence. I don’t know where it comes from. Choosing meal plans are more difficult. The day began with a quick look at the exhibition space, which wasn’t so large, but in reality, is more than three GR2 spaces with a higher ceiling. Then we went into the collections department which are shelves of precious items. I saw weaponry including swords, helmets, guns, and armor. We walked in a group and asked questions, listened to explanations, and ended with a viewing of traditional wood block prints by Yoshitoshi. I hope to own one some day. The colors and iconography were beyond belief. We convened for hours, worked through lunch, and into the late afternoon thinking about the space and thematic concepts. Ideas were pondered and broken down, but overall, we came away with the foundation of the exhibition. I can now say that I’m proudly working on a project about samurai at the Worcester Museum of Art. I’ll try to honor the legacy and we’ll see how the next steps unfold.

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Worcester Museum of Art has the 2nd largest collection of armor in the USA.

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This is what I think is the center of the museum. It’s epic.

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Yoshitoshi detail.

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My pass and that’s Adam Rozan.

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Another Yoshitoshi

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An insane snail helmet.

photo 5cThe war room. Fun times.