Posts by Heather Ewing
101 Spring Street, New York, 2005. Photo by Andrea Steele. © Judd Foundation. Courtesy Judd Foundation Archives.
In June, Donald Judd’s five-story home and studio, in a historic cast-iron building at the corner of Spring and Mercer Streets in New York’s Soho, will re-open to the public after a three-year restoration.
Judd bought the building in 1968 (for $68,000), and in the process helped usher in the transformation of Soho from a derelict industrial area to a vibrant artistic community. Placing his studio on the street level, he arranged the upper floors as family living quarters. After a time, he moved his studio to the third floor; the ground floor continued to be a place for meetings, gatherings, exhibitions, and performances. Throughout the building he installed works by other artists and his own pieces, as well as antiques and other objects he collected — all part of his artistic exploration of the placement of works of art in space, and the concept of permanent installation.
The house has been restored to the period of 1994, when Judd died. Very little is meant to appear changed. The kitchen is still in place, with a little marionette puppet stage that Judd built in one corner. The original elevator is still in use, which holds only four or five people at any given time. But now the floors have been reinforced, the windows covered with UV filters, and the ground-level lights that were originally designed to provide daylight to the basement areas, and which were covered with plywood and according to Judd’s son only let in water back in Judd’s day, have now been beautifully restored. Read more.
I attended The Future of Civil War History conference recently at Gettysburg. One outstanding element of the conference involved a series of field experiences, two-hour plus morning tours with various experts covering topics like battlefield rehabilitation or the fighting in downtown Gettysburg, but these filled up incredibly quickly during the pre-registration period. My guess is that the conference organizers could have hosted twice as many of these as they did and they would still have been oversubscribed. Read more.
Museum collections are so often the product of serendipity and circumstance— accumulated over a long period of time, shaped by curators’ interests, particular exhibition needs, bequests and a myriad of other factors. But what about a museum starting from scratch? Read more.
The Eldridge Street Synagogue, which has served as a place of worship continuously since it first opened in 1887, is also home to the Museum at Eldridge Street. The neighborhood, today the heart of Chinatown, has a long history of changing immigrant populations. [Photo by the author]
In December, the Museum at Eldridge Street, which is housed in the historic 1887 Eldridge Street Synagogue, launched Storywalks, a new smartphone app that uses oral history recordings from the museum’s archives to bring the site to life. The app is oriented around the synagogue’s floor plan, guiding visitors along what the museum calls “a sonic pathway of voices, music and environmental sounds.”
The Eldridge Street Synagogue, now a National Historic Landmark, opened in 1887, the first purpose-built synagogue established by Eastern European Jews in the United States. More than two million Eastern European Jewish immigrants settled in this country during the late 19th/early 20th century, and it’s estimated that some three-quarters passed through the Lower East Side and this synagogue. The museum tells an important story in the history of immigration in this country, a narrative that still resonates today — as many of the school children who pass through its doors, in the heart of Chinatown, have their own immigrant stories.
The Morris-Jumel Mansion, built in 1765, is the oldest house in Manhattan. Photo courtesy of the author.
Felipe Galindo’s work whimsically explores the idea of what Washington might think were he to return to the neighborhood today, in the early 21st century. Most of his work is displayed in the gallery space of the wide second floor hall. George Washington Crossing the Hudson (2012). Photo courtesy of the author.
The monumental Palladian-style Morris-Jumel Mansion, perched atop one of the highest points of New York City at 160th Street, is the oldest house in Manhattan. The Revolutionary War headquarters of General George Washington in the fall of 1776, it is perhaps best known as the site of a 1790 dinner party that the new president held with his illustrious cabinet, which included two future presidents, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (the house was then an inn). Years later, it was also home to former vice president (and notorious duel winner) Aaron Burr. The house has been a museum since 1904.
Carol Ward is the Director of Education and Public Programs at the mansion, a position she has held since 2008. She organized the current exhibitions, “Women Unbound” by Andrea Arroyo and “George Washington Revisits Washington Heights,” by Felipe Galindo. These concurrent shows, which opened last fall in conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month and are on view until January 7, 2013, feature work by husband and wife Mexican-born artists living in the neighborhood of the museum. See the artists talking about their Morris-Jumel projects here and here. Read more.