Marshall Fields Holiday Exhibit

A nostalgic collection of Marshall Field’s Christmas decorations is on display in the State Museum lobby. It includes toys, ornaments, and postcards. The crown jewels of the collection are Uncle Mistletoe and Aunt Holly. The characters were introduced in 1945 and were often seen at the top of the Christmas Tree in the Walnut Room as well as other locations in the store.

Do you remember Uncle Mistletoe and Aunt Holly? What is your favorite Marshall Fields Christmas memory?

 

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ISM Sculpture featured in NY Gallery

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The Illinois State Museum is pleased to have lent Diane Simpson’s sculpture Samurai #9, 1983, to JTT Gallery in New York. JTT’s exhibition features works from Diane Simpson’s landmark Samurai series, which were first exhibited in 1983 at Phyllis Kind’s Chicago gallery. The series consists of eight freestanding sculptures inspired by samurai armor and Japanese firemen capes—seven of which JTT has gathered for their exhibition. The exhibition runs through January 15, 2017.

The Samurai Series is an early example of Simpson’s life long engagement with the potential of translating clothing and body adornment into elegant sculptures. Samurai #9 is a simplified figure of a samurai warrior, made of precisely cut sheets of MDF (medium-density fibreboard), and assembled without hardware along oblique angles, mirroring the flattened geometric perspective employed in Japanese prints. Her figure is as much architecture as armor.

The Museum purchased Samurai #9 from the Phyllis Kind Gallery in 1983. It has subsequently been on view in Diane Simpson’s retrospective at the Chicago Cultural Center in 2010, and in Figurism: Narrative and Fantastic Figuration at the Illinois State Museum.

Manierre Dawson: A Journey to Abstraction

 

When searching through art history text books on the subject of inventing modern abstraction, it is unlikely that you will find the name Manierre Dawson (1887-1969). When it comes to who made the first totally non-representational paintings, you will find familiar names like Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian and Arthur Dove. But recent scholarship contends that Dawson, a little known artist from Chicago, took his own journey to non-objective painting, and may even have arrived there shortly before these other famous artists.

On December 10, the Museum will proudly present Manierre Dawson: A Journey to Abstraction. The exhibition, comprised of 16 original oil paintings, tells the story of how a Midwest artist, trained as an architectural engineer, with virtually no direct contact with his early 20th century European and American Avant-Garde counterparts, independently arrived at the same artistic destination. Visitors will be able to see some of the earliest examples of Dawson’s abstracting tendencies, where naïve-looking figures inhabit flattened, simplified landscapes. The exhibition will show Dawson’s journey to pure abstraction and some of the stops along the way that shaped his innovative artistic vision and defined his life. Discover some of the reasons why—in the end—he is not as well known.

This exhibition is located in the Illinois State Museum‘s Temporary/Permanent Gallery which features temporary exhibitions from the Museum’s permanent collections. The Illinois State Museum is located at 502 South Spring Street, Springfield.  The Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Sunday from Noon-4:30 p.m.

Winter Day Trip to Field Museum Announced

China's First Emperor and His Terracotta Warriors

Image courtesy The Field Museum

Springfield—On December 2, the Illinois State Museum is providing an opportunity to see the Field Museum’s exhibition China’s First Emperor and His Terracotta Warriors first hand on a day trip to Chicago. During the ride to the Field Museum, Dr. Michael Wiant, ISM Interim Director, will provide commentary on the Terracotta Warriors, as well as the culture of Illinois’ native peoples during the same time period. In addition to seeing the Warriors exhibit, participants will have full access to all of the Field’s exhibits, including the new Cyrus Tang Hall of China.

Participants will depart the ISM Research & Collections Center in Springfield at 7:00 a.m. on December 2, and return to the RCC around 10:30 p.m. The trip costs $130 for Illinois State Museum Society members and $150 for non-members. The fee includes transportation via chartered motor coach, access to all Field Museum exhibitions, exclusive educational content, a boxed lunch, and dinner in Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood.

Those interested in attending can find additional details and registration information at bit.ly/ismtrip2016. Registration and payment are due by Tuesday, November 15. Space is limited, so registering as soon as possible is recommended. For questions, contact Elizabeth Bazan at events@illinoisstatemuseum.org or (217) 782-5993.

Remembering Mary Ann MacLean

MacLean2Mary Ann MacLean, long-serving member of the Illinois State Museum Board, friend, and inspired proponent of the value of play, died on Thursday, August 18.  She will be sorely missed.  Her legacy lives on at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield in the Mary Ann MacLean Play Museum and the Mary Ann MacLean Resource Center.  More than 207,000 children and their families have visited the Play Museum since its opening in 2011.

For 32 years, Mary Ann was a member of the Illinois State Museum Board of Directors, and she held the position of Chair of the Board.  She was an incomparable leader and Museum advocate.  As a member of the Illinois State Board of Education, Mary Ann MacLean promoted the Museums in the Classroom initiative, and advanced the role of the Illinois State Museum in this innovative program.  Mary Ann and her family generously supported the creation of the Mary Ann MacLean Play Museum and Resource Center, the R. Bruce McMillan Museum Internship, and innumerable other Illinois State Museum programs and activities.

In honor of Mary Ann and the Play Museum that bears her name, the Illinois State Museum will hold a “Celebration of Play” family event on Saturday, September 24 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. Visitors are invited to enjoy a day of play, including marble painting, historic games and toys, shadow puppets, puzzles, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and more.

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Mary Ann MacLean (bottom left) poses with her family during the preview of the Mary Ann MacLean Play Museum

 

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Over 300 Go Behind-the-Scenes

Visitors from across central Illinois traveled to the Illinois State Museum’s Research and Collections Center (RCC) on East Ash Street for a rare experience. The Museum provided hour-long, behind-the-scenes tours of its second Springfield facility where the bulk of its 14-million object collection is stored. Curators provided insights into the breadth of the collection, how it is used for research and exhibition, and what it takes to care for these precious objects.

Volunteers from Springfield MakerSpace provided demonstrations of 3D scanning and printing, a technology that the Museum uses to document and share some of its collections. They also had hands-on activities for young visitors.

While the RCC is rarely open to the public, Illinois State Museum Society Members are treated to an annual open house at the facility as one of the benefits of membership.