Archive for ‘December, 2014’ Blog

Adventures in the Denison Museum: Not All Inches Are the Same

December 1st, 2014 by Megan Hancock
Gretchen Giltner '16 measuring works for Monomoy

Gretchen Giltner ’16 measuring works for Monomoy

This summer, I interned at the Denison Museum as the Monomoy Curatorial Intern. This entailed helping with the process of suggesting and preparing objects from the Museum’s permanent collection to go on view in the Denison President’s home – Monomoy Place. President Weinberg and his family live in Monomoy. I also had the privilege of helping to prepare some objects to go on display in the Museum’s Fall 2014 exhibition Curiosity. Throughout the process, I learned some important lessons about working in a museum. One of these lessons had to do with the nature of the “inch” and the importance of always checking your measurements.

Some of the objects chosen for Monomoy were two-dimensional works on paper, like two geometric Nassos Daphnis prints and two colorful Japanese woodblock prints. These prints needed to be framed and matted before they were hung in Monomoy. In order to frame the works of art, we needed to know their exact dimensions as well as their frame measurements and their window measurements.

Before my internship, I had no experience with framing. No framing experience at all, to be exact. My supervisor, Megan, taught me from the ground up. I started with measuring the dimensions of the art using a standard tape measure we had in the office. I recorded all these measurements in a spreadsheet order form to be sent to a frame supply shop. We ordered the framing supplies to the dimensions we needed, and then assembled the works of art in the Museum.

One of the works to be framed was a Nassos Daphnis print of red semicircles. This piece had already been measured by another intern, but I measured it again to make sure the previous measurements were correct. To my surprise, the new measurements did not match the old ones at all. Confused, I thought maybe there were two different Nassos Daphnis red semicircle prints and the one I was measuring just happened to be larger. Barely fazed, I continued with my measuring.

When time was approaching to order the framing supplies, I brought out a measuring tape and started to check over the measurements I had taken. This time, I used a different measuring tape. Since all inches are the same, I thought, it would not matter that I was using a different measuring tape. But as I measured the dimensions again, I noticed something strange: none of my new measurements were matching with the old measurements.

Perplexed, I found the measuring tape I had used in the beginning of the framing process and held it next to the new tape measure I was using. To my horror, the inches did not align! The inches on the old tape were significantly larger, meaning all of my preliminary measurements were incorrect. In the beginning of the summer, the Museum had ordered a shipment of red, blue, and yellow measuring tapes from China. It turns out all of these tapes had incorrect inches, even the fun blue measuring tape I had been using. We ended up getting rid of these tapes to avoid any further measuring conundrums.

Upon further investigation, I learned that, despite using the metric system, the Chinese use a unit of measurement called the “Chinese inch.” The Chinese inch is about 1.312 US inches. So, the Chinese measuring tapes were not wrong, per se, they just had inches that were not the same size as standard US inches.

After this discovery, I used a different measuring device to go back and measure the dimensions of each work of art again, this time using standard US inches. This was great practice for me as I was learning the methods of framing, but could have been disastrous had we placed the framing order, received framing supplies that did not fit the works of art, and then had to re-order supplies and potentially be late installing the art in Monomoy. Fortunately, we caught the problem just in time.

This experience taught me that it is of utmost importance to double check, if not triple check, your work. This is especially critical when framing works of art. This experience also taught me that, alas, not all inches are the same.

-Gretchen Giltner ’16

Ethel Visit’s the Denison Museum

November 19th, 2014 by Megan Hancock

Ethel musicians Ralph Farris, Dorothy Lawson, Tema Watstein, and Kip Jones visit Denison Museum. Watch and listen as they explore the Curiosity exhibition.

Learn more about the Vail Series
Discover more about the Ethel musicians

Microbes in the Museum

September 30th, 2014 by Megan Hancock

Watch how museums objects can inspire one amazing biology project!

Learn more about this the Microbes in the Museum project on Denison’s Biology department website

Green Revolution

March 14th, 2014 by Megan Hancock

On Thursday, February 27th, the Denison Museum opened its doors to a crowd of 300+ that included Denison students, faculty, and Granville residents. If you are one of the sad few who did not attend, then you missed out on delicious tacos and sweets. That’s right; there were tacos, FREE tacos, from the talented people at Taco Sherpa. I bet you feel bad now, don’t you? The good news is that you can still visit the museum to view an exhibit that we are particularly proud of: Green Revolution.




Green Revolution is an exhibit that focuses on the idea of sustainability and being environmentally friendly. It showcases impressive works of art by Denison students that explore what it means to be ”green.” The gallery has been split up into five, distinct sections: Latin American Squatter Settlements; Ocean Acidification; Fracking; Hybrid Housing/The Denison Homestead; and a cushy reception area with couches and books in case you want to do some learning on your own.

We are open Monday-Saturday from 12:00-5:00pm on the first floor of Burke. Come by on your own, or bring friends down the hill to see our exciting new exhibit!


See you at the museum!

A love for the DIY spirit

February 7th, 2014 by Denison Museum

Antelope mask. African, Kurumba tribe, (Burkina Faso), early 20th century. painted wood.		DU1990.32 Rehoused by Wataru Akamatsu ’14 and Kristine Mallinson ’15

Antelope mask. African, Kurumba tribe, (Burkina Faso), early 20th century. painted wood. DU1990.32
Rehoused by Wataru Akamatsu ’14 and Kristine Mallinson ’15

by Wataru Akamatsu ’14

When I was little, I spent most of my childhood at my grandparent’s house. My grandpa and I used to make up stories using puppets. It was very much like an improvisational theater, as all we had in the beginning was a theme such as “an animal island v human island,” “a market,” “pirates,” and anything we could think of, and we went from there, never knowing how the stories would end. For the improvisations, we needed stage sets for the puppets so we started to make things like ships, houses, and airplanes from cardboard. Making three-dimensional objects from one-dimensional material was demanding but very fun.

When I first came to Denison Museum in Fall 2012, I never expected to find a direct connection to this creative activity from my childhood. I thought that museum jobs were about putting up exhibitions, guarding galleries, and taking down the exhibitions in the end. I found that museums are also places where the permanent collections sleep in back storages. So here I am at Denison Museum, responsible for checking records for the collections and making proper beds for them. My fellow teammate, Kristine Mallinson ’15, and I use a variety of materials to make proper storage boxes: including acid free cardboard. This requires a lot of creativity as each object has a unique shape. We always have to come up with a new strategy to keep each object safe and secure.

It was after having worked at Denison Museum for one year that I finally realized there were connections between my childhood experience with my grandpa and my experience at the Museum. I found myself enjoying the making of boxes in the same way I enjoyed making cardboard stage sets with my grandpa. I have always liked creating something from scratch and I had not had a chance to do this type of activity at Denison until I came to the Museum. As my graduation is coming around the corner, I am very grateful for the opportunity at the Museum as it encouraged my life-long love for the DIY spirit.

Working with the unfamiliar

January 23rd, 2014 by Denison Museum

Kristine Mallinson '15

Kristine Mallinson ’15

by Kristine Mallinson ’15

Coming into Denison, I knew that archaeology was in my future. But, I never would have thought I would have found a job on the hill in which I was able to work with artifacts hands on. I first discovered Denison Museum when I took Semiotic Theory with Professor Lele the second semester of my first-year. I was immediately fascinated with the ancient brick collection. When I heard that there were openings at the Museum for the following academic year, I jumped on the opportunity to work with artifacts. To my surprise, I was hired.

All summer I thought about what I was going to be able to do with my job. To my, what was, disappointment, I was not assigned to work with the brick collection, but instead the African and Native American pocket collections with Wataru Akamatsu ‘14. These were both areas of history that I was not familiar with and I was completely scared. How was I going to be able to work with artifacts from cultures I was not familiar with? But, I am so thankful that I was assigned to these two collections because of what I was able to gain from working with the unfamiliar.

While I loved working with the African collection, I am fascinated by the Native American collection at the Museum. Ruth Merhab is the main donor of the collection. She traveled throughout the West and collected tons of objects that she later donated to the Museum. One reason why I love the collection so much is due to the hoops I have had to jump through with the inventory. Last Spring I worked on a total inventory of the collection. I picked up this work with three weeks left of work for the semester, not that much time to finish the total rehousing of a collection. Thus, Wataru and I were hoping that we could just take pictures and then rehouse the objects, but of course that was not the case.

We opened the first box of objects, Box W as it is known as, and right away we found objects that were never given a catalog number. Within a box of around forty pieces of jewelry, we had about fifteen objects without a catalog number. This means that these objects were never formally put into the collection or our database system. After talking with Anna Cannizzo, the Curator of Collections, we decided to develop a new catalog protocol.

The objects would be given FIM (Found In Museum) numbers. I have been able to assign fifty-three objects a FIM number and they will be put into our database system during Denison Museum’s upcoming Institute of Museum and Library Services: Museums for America grant project. Being able to assign a catalog system and giving these objects a place to have information gathered about them has been so rewarding. I am able to give life back to these objects and am forming a pathway for further research to be done on them. Thus, I like to think of it as a different form of archaeology. ‘Digging up’ these objects from our storage and connecting them with information so that we can learn more about our Native American collection.

Surprising Connections

January 21st, 2014 by Denison Museum

Khari Saffo '15 with Tod Polson's "The Noble Approach" and Rockwell Kent's "Twilight of Man"

Khari Saffo ’15 with Tod Polson’s “The Noble Approach” and Rockwell Kent’s “Twilight of Man”

by Khari Saffo ‘15

Denison Museum is full of surprises and connections, you never know what you are going to find. I began to work at the Museum this past Fall semester and have been learning about collecting and cataloguing art pieces. Knowing my particular interest in animation art, Curator of Collections Anna Cannizzo suggested that I take a look at the book The Noble Approach by Tod Polson. I would soon find that the book, about legendary animation layout artist Maurice Noble, had a direct connection to Denison Museum’s works on paper collection.

Maurice Noble is most acknowledged for his background designs in director Chuck Jones cartoons at Warner Brothers Studios in the 1950s. His work can be found in the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons, as well as some of the most famous Bugs Bunny cartoons such as What’s Opera Doc (1957), known to be regarded as the best cartoon of all time by one thousand professionals in the field of animation.1 Noble has a very recognizable art style that consists of the use of simple shapes and distorting perspectives. In The Noble Approach, Tod Polson goes into detail about Noble’s approach to style and designing. Polson discusses Noble’s use of “value” in regards to dark/light contrast and focus. The work of artist Rockwell Kent was of great influence to Noble’s use of value and Polson uses one of Kent’s woodblock prints as a visual aide in his explanation of “Stacking Value”.2 It was here that I noticed the Rockwell Kent woodblock print featured was Twilight of Man from Denison Museum’s collection. It was a wonderful discovery to find that Denison some how was involved with The Noble Approach.

Through my connection to Denison Museum I got the opportunity to interview the author of The Noble Approach, Tod Polson. Tod gave me helpful advice to achieve a career in animation. He encouraged me to constantly draw, make films, and to use the internet as a tool to share my work. Tod explained to me that at a young age he had also been interested in cartoons and animation. While in high school he drew a comic strip for the school paper and experimented with many of his own films using cutout paper animation. In college, Polson studied experimental animation and eventually obtained a job working under Maurice Noble. Tod told me that Maurice was more of a teacher than boss and discussed with Tod his approach to design.

Prior to his death in 2001, Maurice Noble had begun work on a manuscript about himself and his drawing process. He was never able to finish but before he died, he asked Tod to continue his work. During the making of the book, Tod collected pieces of art to include. It took years to acquire all of the artwork used in the book. Many of Maurice’s rough pencil sketches used in the book were from Maurice’s own personal collection. As the word spread about the book, people who loved Maurice’s work and knew him personally donated the use of art pieces. Many of the museums Tod came in contact with were extremely generous; Tod noted that the crew at Denison Museum made a lot of materials available to him that he was not able to fit it all in his book. I was thrilled and engaged to learn that I am now apart of something that helped out in the crafting of a book about the master animation designer Maurice Noble.

  1. Jerry Beck, The 50 Greatest Cartoons: As Selected by 1,000 Animation Professionals, (Atlanta: Turner Publishing, 1994.
  2. Tod Polson, The Noble Approach, (San Franscisco: Chronicle Books, 2013, 91.

Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery?

December 4th, 2013 by Denison Museum
Timothy Cole. "Lady Weighing Pearls" (after Vermeer) American, late 19th-early 20th century. Engraving DU1946.303 Denison Museum Collection

Timothy Cole. “Lady Weighing Pearls” (after Vermeer)
American, late 19th-early 20th century. Engraving
Denison Museum Collection

by Marisa Zemesarajs ’15

Questions regarding the reproduction of artworks have become increasingly relevant, especially in our image-driven culture. These questions have been discussed more recently with the advent of photography and lithography (not to mention that you can buy a Van Gogh patterned umbrella nowadays), but image reproduction is not a new game. In principle, a work of art has always been somewhat reproducible; an object produced by man, can certainly be imitated by man.1 But what happens to a work of art when there are copies and copies of it circulating around? Applying the theory of Walter Benjamin, in his “Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” the aura, or what makes an art object of value is affected.2 Thinking in simple economic terms, the more reproductions of an image, the less of value it is. However, the opposite can also hold true; if people are bombarded with a certain image, like a Starry Night umbrella, the original realizes a celebrity-like status. It becomes more valuable as it gains popularity and thus, accessibility. These questions of reproduction and value come into play when looking at Timothy Cole’s Lady Weighing Pearls, a black and white engraving that replicates Vermeer’s Woman Holding a Balance; currently on display at Denison Museum.

When I first passed this engraving, I thought to myself “how could someone get away with this, and so successfully at that?” It’s an interesting question to pose. Cole’s engraving marks a special case in reproduction. Unlike the Mona Lisa, which was originally painted by Da Vinci only to later be reproduced on postcards, prints, tote bags (or what have you,) by large, modern corporations in search of profit, Cole usurped the right to imitate Vermeer. Cole even assumed some sense of authority by making it his own, taking a colorful oil painting and assigning it a place in the mechanical world. What’s truly fascinating is that Cole was commissioned by a publishing company in 1883 to engrave a set of blocks after the old, European masters. His reproductions of Italian, Dutch, Flemish, and English artworks were published in book form, and achieved Cole brilliant success. So it’s obvious that there was a demand for these reproductions.

The original by Vermeer has been variously interpreted as a representation of divine truth or justice, while Cole’s reproduction gives us a somewhat skewed image of the “truth” within the piece. The translation of a painting into a black and white engraving changes everything. The graceful woman obtains a darker, eerie quality, while the body of Christ in the depiction of the Last Judgement is intensely illuminated. Reproductions are interesting in this way, they bring different elements to life and also see others to an end. Perhaps reproductions are popular because each one alters our perception and makes us see the original differently. Perhaps we just love the idea of the original so much that its actual originality doesn’t matter. Or maybe we’re just consuming images, as we do.

  1. Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” Translated by Harry Zohn in Hannah Arendt (ed) Illuminations, New York: Schoken Books, 1968, p. 218.
  2. Walter Benjamin, p. 221.

Green Revolution

December 1st, 2013 by Denison Museum

Green Revolution web
Exhibition Dates: February 20, 2014 – May 17, 2014
Opening Reception: Thursday, February 27th, 4:30pm – 7:00pm, Denison Museum, Burke Hall

Green Revolution is a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition used jointly by Denison University and The Works in Newark to create and promote local environmental awareness and accountability through multidisciplinary hands-on experiences and community partnerships. Last September 27, Denison service learning students lent a hand to Green Revolution Licking County for a Clean Up Downtown Newark Day. This spring, Denison Museum and The Works invite you to visit our galleries for exhibitions focused on sustainable living. At Denison Museum, Museum staff and student employees are proud to unveil a series of “eco-zibits” conceived, designed, assembled, and interpreted by a diverse team of students, faculty and staff. Participants come from a variety of Denison programs including Studio Art, Education, and Environmental Studies, as well as Denison Sustainability, Denison Chemical Society, Denison Science and Art Interest Group, Denison Libraries, and The Homestead. The Works presents “From Ditch to Dazzling”, a recycling-themed art exhibition curated by local artist and art educator Todd Camp, that features imaginative artworks created by area artists, individuals, and collaborative partners who received support from Licking County schools and businesses.


For more information about special events and programs sponsored by our Green Revolution partner The Works in Newark, visit Green Revolution Licking County.

Want to learn more about the topics in Green Revolution?
Check out the Denison Library page dedicated to Green Rev.

This version of Green Revolution is based on an exhibition originally created by the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago and its Black Creativity Council and is made available by Smithsonian Institution Traveling Service.

Black on Black Pottery and Finals Week Stress

December 1st, 2013 by Denison Museum

Maria Martinez  Native American. 20th century Black-on-black pottery DU1966.8. Gift of Henry J. Skipp Denison Museum Collection

Maria Martinez
Native American. 20th century
Black-on-black pottery
DU1966.8. Gift of Henry J. Skipp
Denison Museum Collection

by Jackson Lesch ’15

A few weeks ago, I was given the task of finding anything in the Museum that I find interesting and blogging about it. This was open-ended to say the least. I am not involved in any kind of art and, honestly, I know nothing about art. However, as I wandered through the storage space looking for something appealing, I found a piece of pottery that pleased my philistine senses. It was made in a style called black on black. Pretty straightforward.

I showed the piece to Anna Cannizzo, Curator of Collections, and she was able to tell me that the pottery was made by Maria Martinez, apparently it is embarrassing that I have never heard of her. For those of you who are cultureless slobs (like me), Maria Martinez is an internationally known ceramic artist. She is famous for her black ware pottery, which is traditionally dark, black, ceramic art with lighter black patterns that stand out against the first layer of matte. This style of pottery was popularized in New Mexico and evolved from traditional pueblo pottery. Do not mistake me for someone who knows what they are talking about. It took a few google searches and Wikipedia articles to know these things, I don’t have any privileged information. Speaking as someone who has no idea what they are talking about, I do want to say that this minimalistic pottery is kind of incredible. I mean that. It is visually pleasing to a level that is difficult to believe.

While we do not have this piece on display currently, there are plenty of great attractions at our fabled house of art. Right now we are in the middle of an exhibition called “Personal Space.” There are videos and other mixed media pieces that have really seemed to affect some of our visitors. I know that it is almost finals week, but if you need to take a break from studying, you should come down the hill and check us out, I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.

“I will be forever grateful for the years of mentorship I received at the museum.”

— Erin Saul '11