Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Museum Café Is Open

A salad at the Museum Café
 After a few months without a full-time coffee option, the Georgia Museum of Art has opened a new café for all of our caffeine-loving visitors. Operated by the UGA Hotel and Conference Center, the café offers not only coffee, tea and soda, but also a selection of sandwiches, salads, snack boxes, baked goods, snacks and even soup. There are plenty of options for vegetarians or those who are eating gluten-free as well as healthy, fresh choices.
Pastries at the Museum Café
Located on the first floor beside our study area, we find the café allows students and visitors like to find sanctuary in the museum for their studies and projects. The museum café is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday (except for UGA home football games, when it is closed but the museum remains open).

The Georgia Museum of Art recognizes that our visitors need a tranquil place to work and study. We strive to make sure that everyone who visits the museum is given a great environment. We aim to make sure each visit is just as good, if not better, than the last. 

Be sure to make a quick stop at the museum café! Feel free to have a coffee and explore the sculpture garden or take a seat at a table and finish that book you’ve been meaning to read. Then, when you’re done, make your way to the second floor and take a look at the art on display.

Marq Norris
Intern, Department of Communications

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Look into the Life of Louise Blair Daura

Louise Blair Daura's passport from 1927

Imagine leaving your home, family and country right after graduating college and moving to a bustling city halfway across the world. It’s daunting to think about, yet for Louise Blair Daura, the idea of a fresh start was thrilling, so she moved to Paris with her cousin and soon decided to pursue a dream of becoming an artist. She would achieve success during her career, but over time was overlooked and eventually forgotten about, until now. The Georgia Museum of Art is proud to present the exhibition “Louise Blair Daura: A Virginian in Paris.”

Daura was an accomplished artist during her life, exhibiting at the Salon d’Automne in Paris, and frequently received praise from her friends and fellow artists for her work. Why, then, is she so understudied today? The most likely reason is that, after about 1930, she did not exhibit any of her works. It’s unclear why she gave up her career as an artist, but she may have felt out of place in the Parisian art scene. Her husband, Pierre Daura, whom she met and married in Paris, was also an artist, a co-founder of the artists’ group Cercle et Carré. He was supportive of her career and her art (he actually submitted her painting to the Salon), but her figurative work was very different from what he and his friends were producing.

An untitled portrait of Louise Blair Daura's daughter, Martha, from 1930.

Louise did continue to paint after 1930, but she mainly produced art for herself or her friends, including portraits of her daughter. Although she was not painting much at this time, her works were still of high quality and precisely painted. An untitled painting of her infant daughter shows the baby sleeping, wrapped in a floral bed sheet, with her hands clutching the fabric and her face contorted, as if she is deep in a dream. This skill in portrait painting is evident throughout her career, as in “Self portrait with Mantilla.” The mantilla, a traditional Spanish lace shawl worn over the head, is painted with precision, and Louise depicts herself in a stoic manner. She wrote about refusing to idealize her acquaintances, or herself, for their own pride. Both of these works can be seen in the exhibition.

Louise Blair Daura, "Self-portrait with Mantilla," ca. 1929. Oil on canvas, 24 x 15 inches.
Musée d’art Hyacinthe Rigaud, Perpignan, 

The exhibition is not only noteworthy because it examines a lesser-known artist, but also because its exhibition catalogue publishes the letters Louise Blair Daura wrote to her family in the United States, from the time she arrived in Europe until the end of 1930. These letters give an intimate look into her life: from her soirees with prominent artists to her travels around France and Spain and the joyous birth of her daughter, her letters leave the reader feeling as if they were a close friend of hers. The letters also illustrate what life was like for an American in Paris at this time.

The exhibition is up through December 10 at the museum, after which it will travel to the Daura Gallery at Lynchburg College, Virginia. Remaining programs include a Family Day this Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, Museum Mix (tonight from 8 to 11 p.m.), and a Film Series on Americans in Paris, beginning November 2.

Stephanie Motter
Intern, Department of Communications

Friday, October 13, 2017

Extreme Makeover: Database Edition

Remember the last time you went to the Georgia Museum of Art?

The refreshingly cool foyer? Being greeted by the front desk security guard? You then made your way upstairs and into the galleries to admire the art. How many works of art do you remember seeing? Fifty? One hundred? Two hundred? The museum has about 500 works on display at any given time—only 5 percent of its total collection. The museum is proud that its permanent collection now consists of more than 12,000 works of art from a wide range of cultures and artists, and it does its best to rotate what is on display regularly, but limited gallery space means it can only display a small fraction of what it owns. That’s where the museum’s registrars have been hard at work.

Over the past few years, the registrars have been implementing a new collections database. This new database replaces the old DOS-based database, which was built in the 1980s and only accessible to some museum staff. The new database, called The Museum System (TMS), is online, and information on more than 2,400 works of art is now accessible to the public, with more being added every day. TMS will not only allow the public to explore the full collection, but will also greatly aid scholars and faculty in their research.

Head registrar Tricia Miller is particularly enthusiastic about the public’s access to the new database, saying, “Better access to information about the museum’s collection is one of the Georgia Museum of Art’s primary goals, and we are so pleased to reach this milestone in the process. I look forward to continuing to make more information about the collection available for students, faculty, scholars and the public to enjoy.”

The process of transferring the information from both the old database and from paper files to the new database is intricate. Basic data transferred from the previous system—such as title, date, artist, medium and dimensions—must be reviewed and corrected for each record before it can be made available to the public. In addition, relevant metadata, such as subject, country of origin or style of art will be added to the records in order to enhance the system’s search capabilities. The process may take several more years before all 12,000 records are made public, but the registrars work every day to make more records available. Additionally, all newly acquired objects will be added to the system on an ongoing basis.

Not everything in the system has a photograph attached to it. The registrars have been taking snapshots of new objects when they enter the collection for some years, but many works that were acquired earlier have not been imaged. It is the registrars’ hope to find funding to document the entire collection photographically at some point.

The public can access TMS through the collections page on the museum’s website (, which presents several options. You may view collections of highlighted works (African, American, European, Asian and decorative arts for now). You may view the works by category (print, painting, drawing, photograph, etc.). You may view all works alphabetically, by date or by object number, if you just want to browse. You can also search a word—for example, “bird,” which will return works relating to birds. These specifications are what make this new database so efficient, cutting out the need to spend hours going through files to find exactly what you may be looking for.

Another revolutionary function of TMS is that it allows visitors to sign in and create a folder of their favorite images, called “My Collection.” This feature allows people to play curator, creating their own online “exhibition” and forging a personal connection to the collection. These collections can be kept private or made public to share with other users on the site.

So the next time you find yourself mindlessly surfing the Internet, take a minute to examine the new database. You may find a work that inspires you, examine the career of a local artist or bask in the glory of a master of American impressionism. You never know what you’ll find.

Stephanie Motter
Intern, Department of Communications

Thursday, October 05, 2017

The Art of Giving: Beard Scholars at the Georgia Museum of Art

(left to right) Joseph Litts, Linda Beard, Victoria Ramsay and Larry Beard

The stereotype of southerners is that they move, think and speak slowly, but people who think that haven’t met Dale Couch. Come to the offices of the Georgia Museum of Art any day and you will see Couch, the museum’s curator of decorative arts, practically running around the museum, talking a mile a minute. Recently, Couch has been accompanied by two people just as lively as he is: the museum’s new Beard Scholars, Joseph Litts and Victoria Ramsay.

Earlier this year, Drs. Linda and Larry Beard—major supporters of the Georgia Museum of Art and its decorative arts initiative—made a commitment to establish this scholarship as a paid position for undergraduate interns in the museum’s Henry D. Green Center for the Study of the Decorative Arts. Linda Beard is a member of the museum’s Decorative Arts Advisory Committee and the Executive Committee of its Board of Advisors. She is also a distinguished collector and connoisseur of Belleek porcelain, and works from her collection are on long-term loan to the museum, where they constitute a popular display. Professor Larry Beard is also a scholar of the arts and is an able associate in the Beards’ quest to improve the learning experience in the decorative arts.

Beard Scholar Joseph Litts discusses a chair
Litts and Ramsay are the first students to receive the scholarship, which runs through the 2017–18 academic year. Both of them have demonstrated a strong commitment to the study of the decorative arts. The field focuses on useful objects (furniture, silver, ceramics, textiles et al.) that transcend their function through design, craft, ornament or inherent beauty.

The Beards said, “It is an honor and privilege for us to encourage the work and research of outstanding students in the decorative arts. These scholars represent the absolute best of those students who are passionate about the arts. Their work and aspirations bode well for the future of the decorative arts.”

Litts previously studied history as an undergraduate student at Clemson University. He interned at the museum in the summer of 2015. In the summer of 2016, he attended the summer institute at the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, an in-depth, practice-based program that focuses on the decorative arts and material culture of the early American South. Ramsay is an undergraduate UGA student majoring in English and history, with an emphasis on British and Irish studies. She attended the University of Georgia at Oxford program, at Trinity College, for 6 weeks this summer studying English literature. 

Beard Scholar Victoria Ramsay shows
Linda and Larry Beard some of her work

As Beard Scholars, Litts and Ramsay are tasked with a variety of responsibilities, from visiting donors to digging through antiques shops to writing research articles. The program fosters a more intensely educational, hands-on experience than they would get in a classroom alone. 

When asked what he hopes they will gain from this position, Couch says, “I hope they realize that following a passionate interest gives fulfillment to life. This program exists first to educate and enrich lives of students, not solely to train future curators. I would be delighted to have my interns go on to be lawyers, professors, stay-at-home mothers and fathers, businesspeople. Good design gives rise to conscious living.”

Litts and Ramsay believe that the scholarship will benefit them by providing an enriching educational experience that allows them to be fully invested in their work. Ramsay said, “This internship has made me realize things about myself that I wouldn’t have
known before. I have found what I am truly passionate about and what I want
to work toward in the future.” Both Beard Scholars have decided to attend graduate school. Litts will be studying art history and Ramsay will study English with the intent of becoming either a professor or an archivist. They advise anyone who has interest in the program and the decorative arts to apply for the Beard Scholarship.

The importance of the Beard Scholarship cannot be emphasized enough. Director of development Heather Malcom said, “The Beard Scholarship establishes the first paid internship position for undergraduates at the museum and serves as a model for programs of its kind that help remove barriers and open doors for talented students. It provides opportunities for students to do original research on material culture that helps tell stories about our shared history and environment. And it will go a long way toward creating and diversifying the next generation of scholars in the decorative arts.”

Information about how to apply for this scholarship and other experiential-learning-focused internships at the museum is available at

Stephanie Motter
Intern, Department of Communications