Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tempted to Touch the Artwork?

Many people, from seasoned museum visitors to young students, and sometimes even curators, are tempted to touch the artwork. The reason museums have a strict no touch policy is that our hands contain many unseen and harmful dirts and oils. Over time, and with repeated touching, these dirts and oils can permanently damage the art by causing negative reactions, such as corrosion, that diminish the life span of the art. This is why when museum staff members need to handle the artwork, you will see them wearing white gloves to protect the art so that it can be enjoyed for generations to come.

One of the current exhibitions at the Art Museum has been especially tempting to touch because it incorporates interesting and new materials. Etsuko Ichikawa: NACHI - from the eternal to the ephemeral - uses cotton rope and pyrographs to create a unique environment in the gallery. Pyrographs are drawings created by molten glass scorching the surface of the paper. Because of the high heat of the glass, the paper need to be very thick. The cotton rope hangs in strands by the thousand, creating almost a curtain. Both the rope and the paper are unique materials, so the artist was generous and provided a sample of both a pyrograph and cotton rope, that museum visitors can touch. This will help keep the work in the exhibition safe, but also allows museum visitors to answer the questions they might have about what the materials feel like.

We invite you to visit the exhibition, explore it, and use your senses. From looking closely at the designs of the pyrographs, to listening to the sound playing from the center of the spiral, and now touch with these samples at the entrance to the gallery.

For more information, or if you have questions, you can contact the museum at 307.766.6622.

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