RESPONSES Event and DEinstallation

December 3rd:

An event titled “RESPONSES” was hosted in the gallery by members of our Interpretation team on Saturday, December 3rd. The event was open to members of the community and a small but varied audience attended, including fellow Pitt students, art enthusiasts, family members and children.

The Interpretation team created a wonderful event that hybridized tour and open response; they guided guests through each of the galleries, prefacing each with basic information on the art in each room and encouraging guests to use visual aids and handheld examples while engaging with the art in each gallery. Throughout each room, questions were posed for the audience to take into consideration while getting to know the artwork on their own.

Upon entering the final room, in which the responses of local Pittsburgh artists are featured, guests and class members alike sat down for an open group discussion. Though small, the following talk entered very meaningful territory. Each participant was asked to share a way in which war has impacted them, ranging from spectatorship through media, to watching the effects of war on relatives and friends that have served in the military, to firsthand experiences abroad.

As a closing, each guest of the event was invited to leave a message on the gallery’s response wall. It proved to be a poignant end to a very powerful afternoon.

December 5th:

Much to the Museum Studies Seminar’s dismay, deinstallation of the imprint of war: responses in print took place on Monday, December 5th. The process ran incredibly smoothly as the class broke up into groups in order to deinstall each room in a “divide and conquer” effort.


Members of the class donned white gloves as we meticulously removed the works of art from the walls and packed them up with care. The evening was truly bittersweet—we have collectively invested so much dedication into the exhibition over the past few months and it was strange to see the bare white walls of the gallery emerge after we had so proudly filled them with such exquisite works of art. It seems like almost an understatement to say that we have come so far as a team since our first few class sessions but we are truly proud of having put forth such a cohesive and meaningful finished product.

The class owes a big thank you to our instructor, Janet McCall, for devoting so much time to creating such a tremendous and enriching experience for all of us, to Isabelle Chartier, for her vast knowledge of Jacques Callot and her incredible support in the University Art Gallery, and to Nicole Pollentier, for her indispensable guidance and support throughout the entire process.

COMING SOON: Check back to see images of all the amazing responses visitors left on our response wall over the duration of the exhibition!


Gallery Visits and Wrap Ups

November 7th:

This week we visited the Silver Eye Center for Photography. We were fortunate to receive a tour from the Center’s Education Coordinator, Richard Kelly. Richard is also a very accomplished photographer and is currently featured in the Carnegie Museum of Art’s Picturing the City: Downtown Pittsburgh, 2007-2010 exhibition on display until March. It was wonderful to speak to an artist who experiences exhibition planning from multiple perspectives.

The show at Silver Eye is HomeFrontLine: Reflections on Ten Years of War Since 9/11, a photography exhibition exploring the impact of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This visit gave us an opportunity to compare imprint of war: responses in print with another exhibit of similar subject matter. We found many parallels between HomeFrontLine and imprint of war, and left with a broader understanding of how curators might choose to address delicate political topics within an art exhibition.

November 14th

Our hands-on education continued this week with another excellent private tour, this time by Alison Brand Oehler, Director of Concept Art Gallery. Concept Art Gallery is a commercial gallery, auction house and source for art appraisals.

The Gallery staff had been preparing for an auction later in the week and we got a fascinating behind-the-scenes peek at the organization of this event (as well as an up-close look at some very valuable pieces of art!). Alison also spoke to us about selling art, appraising and how they transition the space back and forth between gallery and auction house. The visit to Concept Art Gallery definitely gave our class some new ideas about types of arts organizations and careers in the field.

November 21st:

The work of exhibition planners doesn’t stop after the show’s opening! This week our class focused on interpretation and education, including the use of visual thinking strategies in programs and tours. We returned to our own University Art Gallery where the interpretation team led us on a brief tour to demonstrate some of the education techniques we were discussing.


We wrapped up by completing an exhibition assessment tool developed by Beverly Serrell and a group of other museum professionals designed to assess exhibitions from a visitor’s perspective concerning its level of comfort, engagement, reinforcement, and meaning in hopes of directing museum exhibition developers’ focus on creating more visitor-centered exhibitions. The class discussed which aspects of imprint of war were executed successfully and what we might have done differently. One thing our class could all agree on was that we are proud of the work we accomplished and are delighted to give gallery visitors an opportunity to enjoy such stunning pieces of art.


Opening Reception!

        After a two-month collaborative effort by the Museum Studies Team, the new exhibition:  the imprint of war: responses in print was unveiled to the public at the University Art Gallery this past Monday night (October 31st). Although it was a rainy and chilly night, more than 200 visitors came to get the first look at the show and celebrated this eventful moment with the team and its instructors: Janet McCall, Nicole Pollentier, and Isabelle Chartier. The team got congratulations from HAA faulty the next day: they are “thrilled” with the “glowing success” of the show!

        On Monday night, the doors opened at 6:30 with young women (class members) looking out from inside the gallery with a sort of delightful impatience. Within 15 minutes, visitors strolled into each gallery, some with brochures, some with magnifying glasses, and some simply with curious minds.

        The artworks are displayed in the Gallery like this:

  • The Front Gallery—The Front Gallery features Jacques Callot’s prints from his “Small Miseries of War” and “Large Miseries of War” series.
  • The Rotunda—four of contemporary artist Sandow Birk’s large woodblock prints from his series “The Depravities of War”
  • The Hall Gallery and the Back gallery—contemporary artist Nicolas Naughton’s prints and drawings
  • The Side Gallery—local artists’ works, including prints from Susanne Slavick, Dan Buchanan, Joan Iversen Goswell, Andrew Ellis Johnson, Delanie Jenkins and Andrew Ames

Many visitors came to the show without knowing much about the process of printmaking. At the exhibition, they were educated by display cases full of tools that show the process of a printmaker’s work and they were encouraged to play around with an interactive online device to experience different techniques in printmaking. Nevertheless, visitors were not submissive receptors of the art works; they were inspired by the art and felt the impulse to leave their imprint on the back wall at the Side Gallery (post-its and markers are provided). More than a dozen comments, like “Make Art, Not War” have already been posted, and many more comments are expected.

          Around 7:00,when most of the visitors had finished their first round in the gallery, team leaders from each of the four teams, Lucy Peterson, Allie Ross, Steph Trum, and Christy Savage, each spoke about the mission of the class, the responsibilities of each team and the message we hope the show sends. Afterward, the crowd moved from the rotunda to the Side Gallery where artists Susanne Slavick and Andrew Ellis Johnson each gave a lively explanation of their artworks to the audiences there.

The night was made complete with exquisite food catered by Karen Hunter Catering, run by the mother of Colleen Bernhard, a student in the class. The guests formed long lines to sample crab madeleines, papaya and brie quesadillas, crepes with asparagus, wild mushroom tarts, filet morsels, and displays of cheese and fruit.

The exhibition will remain on display through December 5th, open to the public Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm, or by appointment by emailing

          Come to visit and leave your imprint!


The installation process of the imprint of war: responses in print has begun!

Early Monday morning, students from the class, our professor Janet, our Teaching Assistant Nicole, and the University Art Gallery Collections Manager (and Callot expert) Isabelle came to the gallery to hang the four large prints by Sandow Birk featured in the rotunda (as seen in the photos below). The group was led by Barb Antel, an expert in installations.

Later that evening, during class, we split into teams and were each assigned one room of the gallery to work on. We taped, calculated and measured our wall space and started to hang pieces in each room. Below are photos from the first room featuring prints by Jacques Callot.

We’re also very excited to include local artists from Pittsburgh in our exhibition as well as a fun and interactive response wall (soon to be full of post-its!). The students of the Museum Studies class will be in the gallery all throughout this week finalizing and perfecting the show in anticipation for the reception on Monday.

Remember: the opening reception for the imprint of war: responses in print is this Monday (October 31st) from 6:30 – 8:30. We hope to see you there!

Skype, Printmaking, and Fieldtrips!

September 19th: 

Only three weeks into the semester, we had the wonderful opportunity of skyping with Nicholas Naughton, one of the contemporary artists featured in the imprint of war: responses in print. He answered questions regarding his technique and inspiration for his series Reasons Monsters’ (some of which will be seen in our exhibition).


 October 3rd: 

The three artists featured in the imprint of war: responses in print are all distinguished print makers representing war in their images. In order to understand why they may have chosen this medium, the entire class was invited down to the studio arts floor of Frick to watch how print making is done. We talked with professor Delanie Jenkins about her intrigue and interest in the medium and learned the myriad steps to the process.

October 11th: 

Last week we took a break from our own exhibition and explored others currently featured in Pittsburgh. Our first stop was to the Pittsburgh Glass Center where we were privileged enough to speak to Heather McElwee, the executive director. Heather is currently celebrating the 10th anniversary of the center and was happy to answer our questions regarding exhibition planning and her choices as an artist and director of an arts organization. We also had the opportunity to venture upstairs and see artists at work, making glass objects in teams of 2 and 3.


The current exhibiton at the center is titled: 10 Years on Penn, in honor of their 10th anniversary on Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh.

We then traveled to the Society for Contemporary Craft located in the Strip District. We spoke with Janet McCall, who is both the executive director of Contemporary Craft and the professor for our Museum Studies course, about the current exhibition (Bridge 11: Lia Cook, Mariko Kusumoto, Anne Drew Potter) and the history of the gallery.

First Visit to the University Art Gallery

It is with great excitement that I write this first blog post about our progress on the fast-approaching exhibition!

The class has been hard at work discussing the direction of the exhibit and are on the brink of finalizing a “big idea” that will guide the rest of the show (more details to come). With all of the in-class planning going on every week, we have been fortunate to break away from the classroom in order to spend some time in the University Art Gallery getting a feel for the space. The visit to the gallery also gave us a chance to assess any installation limitations and to begin visualizing a plan for how we’ll utilize the space.

In addition, students broke down into teams (curatorial, interpretation, installation, and documentation) in order to spend some quality one-on-one time with a group of Jacques Callot prints to be included in the exhibition.

Here, the curatorial team, with the assistance of Isabelle Chartier, examines prints by Jacques Callot in the University Art Gallery

Led by Isabelle Chartier of the University Art Gallery, and Callot expert extraordinaire, students learned all about how prints are made, copied, handled, stored, etc. Because we are working with artists who work primarily with prints, we find it necessary to understand the process involved in making such intricate and impressive works.

Check back for updates in the coming weeks as decisions are finalized, art is delivered, and the installation process begins!

Introducing the 2011 Museum Studies Exhibition

The University of Pittsburgh Museum Studies class welcomes you to our blog documenting our 2011 exhibition! In the coming weeks, posts will be added to let you know what the team has been up to. Information will include behind the scenes photos, updates on the installation process, and much more.

We invite you to check back regularly and look forward to seeing you at the opening reception!