This Week’s Destinations for Digital Culture: August 5 to 11

Jenamarie Boots Exhibitions

Bombé Commode by Roger Vandercruse, 18th century. Frick Art Museum, Pittsburgh.

The Frick Pittsburgh

While the Frick Collection in New York focuses on the art Henry Clay Frick acquired, the Frick Pittsburgh – with collections largely contained in his mansion, “Clayton” ­– focuses both on the art and interpretation of the industrialist’s life on his estate. To that end, the grounds have an abundance of virtual exhibits and interpretive content, which you can browse here.

Stand-out options include:

The online collections are updated on a regular basis, and watching as more items come online is quite enjoyable. The items already present are quite impressive (a Roger Vandercruse bombé commode, anyone?) and well worth a look.

View of Cliffe Castle from the virtual tour.

Bradford Museums: Cliffe Castle Museum

Cliffe Castle, originally the home of Victorian millionaire and textile manufacturer Henry Isaac Butterfield and completed in the 1880s, is an expansive and eclectic collection of Victorian rooms and furniture, paintings, and decorative art. It also houses special galleries that deal with natural history, archaeology, and social history, as well as an important display of stained glass by Morris and Co.

The entire building, and many of its most notable items, have been digitized in this virtual reality tour. It is best viewed on a desktop browser, and in full-screen mode. The arrow on the far left will let you pull up a “highlights” menu and jump to different areas within the museum; if you’re interested in seeing the finest examples in the collection, this a great option. Otherwise, enjoy clicking through to “walk” the halls!

Steam locomotive, Reading Company No. 1251, by Philadelphia and Reading Company, Reading Shops, Reading, Pennsylvania, 1918. Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

Having turned our attention to locomotion in Britain recently it seemed only right to turn our train of thought toward the United States this week. The RMoP’s collection of virtual tours is considerable; featuring 360 degree views of everything from a Coudersport & Port Allegany railroad snowplow to the interiors of multiple steam locomotives.

While you can browse the virtual tour list alone, it is helpful to browse by the collection roster, which gives the title, photo, and description of each locomotive and better informs each virtual tour. Not all locomotives have accompanying tours, but they do all have at least a few photos to browse, so if a favorite of yours has not been totally digitized yet, there is still something to enjoy!

The collection of restoration videos and photos is also worthy of your review.

Virtual tour view of the Taki Katei exhibition at the National Museum, Liverpool.

National Museums, Liverpool

The National Museums in Liverpool have, so far, created six virtual exhibitions – ranging in theme from dinosaurs, to contemporary art, to  the history and legacy of transatlantic slavery. Two standout exhibitions that will be of particular interest to TMA readers are:

  • Drawing on Nature: Taki Katei’s Japan: in the first-ever exhibition of Taki Katei’s work outside Japan, viewers are treated to paintings that were once displayed in the imperial court. The virtual tour includes audio clips as well as accompanying texts that explain the many motifs and themes in Katei’s work, as well as traditional Japanese art more generally. Place your mouse over any blue dots to check for these features.
  • An English Lady’s Wardrobe: in this exhibition, you will explore more than 70 outfits, including daywear, evening dresses, jewelry, and shoes, and learn about Liverpool during the interwar years. The Tinne collection, from which these items are taken, is the largest collection of a single person’s clothing in any UK gallery – a really spectacular browse! Like the Taki Katei exhibition, be sure to mouse over any blue dots to check for special features – both video and audio.

Sketch for the Pollinator Pavilion by Mark Dion and Dana Sherwood, 2020. Watercolor and pencil on paper, 12 x 9 in. Thomas Cole National Historic Site.

Real Life Destination:

Thomas Cole National Historic Site, August 7

On Friday, August 7, the Thomas Cole Site will unveil a new interactive artwork called the Pollinator Pavilion. Created by artists Mark Dion and Dana Sherwood, the 21 ½-foot-high wooden architectural confection is a gazebo draped with flowers, plants, bird feeders, and paintings designed as an homage, of sorts, to the ruby-throated hummingbird, a notable plan pollinator in the region. The furnished pavilion will be accessible only to one visitor at a time for now, as a COVID-19 protection measure. A mask is required to enter the grounds of the Thomas Cole Site, and patrons must agree to follow social distancing rules. The grounds are open from dawn to dusk.

A virtual tour of the site is also available, though it will not include the Pollinator Pavilion until a new update is released.

Jenamarie Boots