Kluge Ruhe Aboriginal Art Museum Reflections

March 2, 2008

Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Museum Visit

February 21st, 2008


By Tim Perry

My initial impressions about the Kluge-Ruhe Museum are mixed. At first, I thought that I would not really like the Aboriginal art because I usually don’t like that genre, but I was pleasantly surprised by my visit. The Worrell house that has been adapted as an art museum was a bit of a surprise. It was a great house, but obviously not a proper place to exhibit aboriginal art. Neither the genre, nor the functional characteristics match for these two passing ships. It seems as if the University of Virginia could find a better way to serve both the collection and the house with some re-consideration and re-allocation of resources.

The art itself was very interesting in style, size, and artistic impression. I especially liked the work of Samantha Hobson. If I had a large fortune to invest in art, she would be definitely be one of my favorites. Several of the other artists also invoked some interesting reactions with their work. It was quite helpful to have Margo give us a tour of the artwork. Her knowledge and insight provided a deep contextual element to our experience. I was also struck by how this was a small one or two-person operation that was both unique and also somewhat “under-resourced”. Charlottesville is so fortunate to have one of the few museums of aboriginal art, yet it seems to be a bit of a poor “red-headed stepchild” in comparison to many of the museums that house much of our western variety of art.

The video was helpful in that we got to see the artists, but I would like to have seen more of them “at work” in their art and discussing the meaning of their work in some deeper manner. The video did not do justice to all of the artists, and the lackluster production value and style detracted from the potential creative insights that many of the artists may have been able to impress upon the audience. In addition, the lack of space does not allow for viewing of any type of permanent exhibits or artifacts. I would like to see some of the “best” of the art of each style or type from the Kluge Ruhe collection. The labeling of the art was well done and simple as it most likely should be. However, as a “scientific” minded person, I would like to see a bit of a scheme of either style or type applied to some of the art if possible. Some was more impressionistic, while other art was more of the dot-structure painting. Margo did a good job explaining some of this, but I am still unclear on the exact meaning, function, or relationship between these different styles or genres.

The anthropological perspectives were also a bit intriguing in how age and wisdom seem to denote wider allowances for artistic expressionism within their culture. I also wonder just how much of the current art is still considered truly “aboriginal” in nature since there really are not any true aboriginal peoples living in the wilds of Australia today. The study room and other information may provide some answers to this and I presume that much of the art produced is not only expressionistic, but also somehow a way to preserve aspects of their previous culture. However, these types of relationships were not clearly defined and perhaps should not be for the sake of the visitor’s artistic experience. Overall, I had a good time and wish I could afford to purchase one of Samatha Hobson’s paintings.


Virginia Discovery Museum Reflections

March 2, 2008

Virginia Discovery Museum Class Visit

Thursday, January 31st.


By Tim Perry

What strikes me first about the Virginia Discovery Museum is that it is obviously aimed at young children ages four to seven. The entire museum seems to be set up for “little people” in scale and imaginative style from color choices to carpeting. It has smaller areas of play “stuff” in various places for kids to wander into and try out. There are a wide variety of topics, subjects, activities, and places to visit and learn. The museum has areas for structured and unstructured exploration and learning as well as places for students to have small classes or do projects to express their newly learned ideas. There were contraptions, building activities, live animals, dramatic dress-up, and a myriad of other activities to do and see.

The museum seems to work well for this age group in its scope and focus, although it might benefit from a larger and better-designed space. There are obviously some renovations happening as well as some plans for future developments. The director is passionate about the museum and its mission and eager to share her thoughts about what works best in this type of museum and setting. The museum houses a collection of permanent exhibits for their primary audience as well as a back room of traveling or changing exhibits. Some of the permanent exhibits seem to be well designed and planned such as the small cabin and its assorted props to teach about frontier life. Other exhibits, however, may need some further consideration. For example, the duck-under kaleidoscope is interesting, but probably too tall for many of the younger visitors. Perhaps something that moves up and down over the top of the visitor may work better in this case. Also, the Wentzscope is a bit of a fossil and could be replaced with a digital video microscope where kids could view their small items on a more modern video screen. The exhibit on Thomas Jefferson was interesting, but again, needs to be scaled more for younger visitors and be more kinesthetically appropriately interactive. Perhaps a miniature “walk through” of Monticello could be included and incorporated into the idea of the pioneer house. I would also like to see either a short video or other type of interactive display on Thomas Jefferson as part of this exhibit for kids. This could be done from the perspective of a child living at Monticello or in the frontier cabin. What a project!

The native peoples exhibit in the back room was “borrowed” and “enhanced” by the museum staff, but apparently not very popular for the young audience at the museum. Many of the signs were either placed too high or not very appropriate and the exhibit lacked enough “hands on” activities or interactive experiences for younger visitors. This exhibit could definitely use some more work.

Peppy Linden, the director was very knowledgeable and helpful in directing our class to understand how a “Children’s museum” functions. It is an active place with quite a variety of continuous learning occurring all around you. However, it seems to serve mostly a local clientele with a few visitors from the region or other areas. It could most likely do more with greater resources and perhaps attract a larger and broader audience of visitors.

Blogging Starts

January 25, 2008


I am starting this blog today to work on some of my graduate school classes online at UVA. I will post the addresses of my class blogs from here if you want to see what I am doing in various areas.


Hello world!

January 25, 2008

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!