Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fabulous Furniture at PEM

Last week I was able to preview the amazing new exhibit at PEM called "In Plain Sight: Discovering the Furniture of Nathaniel Gould".

While this is a relatively small exhibit with only 17 pieces of furniture on view, the curators have been able to flesh the show out with portraits, prints, clothing, and other period pieces, as well as the centerpieces of the show which are the record books which were recently discovered and led to important new scholarship about these great pieces of furniture.

In addition there are two interactive, up-to-date media stations where you can really get a more encompassing sense of these pieces of furniture, how they were made, and why they are so important.  And at many of the displays there are things you are encouraged to touch and discover for yourselves.  

As usual, PEM has done a spectacular job of merging art and culture so that one can really understand what you are seeing.  When I say "as usual" that might sound almost boring, but it is akin to watching a great golfer hit shot after perfect shot -- we have come to expect the spectacular, the extraordinary, the perfect from the curators and exhibition staff at PEM and they deliver yet again.

Here is a link to an article in the New York Times about this show.  Their writer definitely tells the story better than I can, so you should definitely read it:  New York Times Article

While the following are some photos I was able to take, you really must go see this exhibit.  I know you will take away so much by seeing it in person.

On view November 15, 2014 to March 29, 2015  -- Don't miss it!

These books are really the centerpiece of the show, because without them there would be no "there there" as they formed the basis of identification of these awesome pieces of art.

 These two desks above show how similar pieces of furniture can be so different -- check out the detailing on the one to the right.  However, the piece on the left has its original finish, which makes it very valuable in its own right.

Discussing the connections that make this exhibit so interesting.

The Revere teapot is from PEM's collection and it is exquisite.  I love how this museum takes pieces and puts them together in one exhibition to create more knowledge for the viewer.  Art + Culture = a great experience.
I just love the detailing that you can barely see in this side view of this drop-leaf table.  Such beautiful work that is almost hidden.

These three small pieces showing life in Salem at very early dates are amazing in their own right.  There is detailed information about them below.
View of the House and Farm of the Hon. Benjamin Pickman, c 1765

View of School St. (now Washington St.) in Salem prior to the Revolutionary War

Benjamin Pickman House at 165 Essex St.

Based on the cost difference, I would definitely be going with the carved set, wouldn't you?  Especially when you see how much work goes in to them -- something you can do quite easily in one of the two interactive displays in this exhibit.
 This trompe l'oeil piece (above) is right next to the entrance to the show.  What a great introduction!

 The photos above and below are of the interactive media exhibits that help one understand this show.

I hope to see you here, or there!  I have seen this show twice now, and I am sure I will go back at least one more time before it ends in late March.


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