Due to a rise in cases of Covid-19 in the Austin area, the Harry Ransom Center’s Reading and Viewing Room and museum galleries will be closed as the Center continues to follow university guidelines.
When you see a favorite work of art on display in a traveling exhibition, do you ever wonder about its journey to that point? Under ideal conditions, it is a lengthy process involving museum staff and vendors from around the world. However, during a global pandemic, the role of a well-seasoned registrar proves to be more critical than ever when it comes to putting one of Frida Kahlo’s most iconic paintings on view.
In this Q & A, Harry Ransom Center Registrar Ester Harrison gives us a behind-the-scenes look at her integral role in the care and stewardship of Kahlo’s 1940 Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird.
Imagine living every day alongside an important work of art. What if a painting today known and loved all over the world once served as the backdrop for your daily life, from family celebrations and milestone events to Sunday breakfasts and casual get-togethers with friends?
In 2018, a committee of staff members at the Harry Ransom Center began the process of updating the Center’s deaccession policy and procedures: a standard document that most museums and archives have in their collection management protocols. One of the laws listed in the deaccession policy is The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), which directs federal agencies and institutions that received federal funding to deaccession Native American cultural items and return them to descendants of affiliated Indian tribes per statutes of this Federal Act. The deaccession committee’s project to review Native American collections at the Ransom Center was further inspired following the 2019 Flair Symposium Ethical Challenges in Cultural Stewardship, which included discussions about NAGPRA in some of the panel presentations. [Read more…] about The Ransom Center and NAGPRA: A team effort in research
It was not the year we anticipated, hoped for, or a year we would want to repeat. The first rumblings of the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, escalated in February, and eventually erupted in our community in March when the Center closed its doors to in-person visits and staff began working remotely. What happened next was a natural shift to expanding the Center’s online presence throughout the year. [Read more…] about Highlights from an unprecedented year
In London, the Victoria & Albert Museum extended the run of its 2018 exhibition Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up, remaining open for 48 hours straight in order to accommodate demand. In Mexico City, lines regularly snake around the block for entry into Casa Azul, the birthplace of Frida Kahlo and the house in which she lived with husband Diego Rivera until her death. Museums all over the world have hosted displays of Kahlo’s paintings and personal possessions in recent years, and Kahlo’s likeness appears on everything from phone cases to protective face masks, from clothing to home furnishings, from tequila bottles to dolls.
Twenty years after her death, increased international interest in Frida Kahlo (Mexican, 1907-1954) began to percolate in the late 1970s, when her work was met with renewed interest by political activists and feminist scholars. Today it is easy to see that “Fridamania” is in full swing. [Read more…] about Looking at Frida Kahlo