September 2013

Local Designers Rock!

September 19 2013

The Wolfsonian Museum Shop carries a line of beautifully crafted rocking animals created by Miami-based Wee Rock Toy Co. Made of bamboo plywood manufactured with a soy-based adhesive and finished with a food-safe conditioner, the toys are chemical-free and sustainable. The company currently offers five rocking animals ($300 each): horse, gorilla, elephant, rhino, and giraffe. We caught up with Wee Rock’s designers to learn more.

Go back about a year, and Catherine O’Sullivan and Michael Galea had no intention of starting a business making heirloom-quality rocking animal. A year ago, the two were seniors studying architecture at the University of Miami and wanted to make a baby gift for one of Catherine’s cousins in Ireland—something that could be transported easily. They settled on the idea of a rocking horse “because it is so classic and iconic,” Catherine says, and because Michael does a lot of woodworking. That decision also may have been influenced by the handcrafted wooden rocking horse from the 1940s that Catherine had as a child—and still has. 

Welcoming New Staff Members

September 19 2013

As we gear up for an exciting and busy fall season, The Wolfsonian is pleased to welcome the following new staff members. 

Victoria King, assistant registrar for loans and exhibitions
Victoria comes to the registration department with eight years of experience in several departments at the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg. Her most recent position was in the curatorial department as the assistant to the deputy director/chief curator. Her responsibilities there included managing the logistics of relocating the collection to a new museum facility and implementing the collection database migration to a new software system. At The Wolfsonian she will oversee the management of collections-related issues for exhibitions and loans and will work closely with staff members in the areas of exhibitions, curatorial, and research. She received her undergraduate degree in fine arts from the Ringling College of Art and Design and a master’s degree in museum studies from Johns Hopkins University.

We Have a Winner! Lobby Table Design Challenge

September 19 2013

As you read this, FIU School of Architecture assistant professor Nick Gelpi is hard at work building a new table for the museum’s lobby, with the help of a few committed students. That is their reward after Gelpi Project’s Bending Table won the lobby table design challenge, Six Components (and a handful of screws). The competition challenged designers to create a table design based on the iconic Thonet 214 chair and specified that, like the chair, the table should have six components and be easily assembled. The table was also required to accommodate twenty-four Thonet chairs.

The many proposals received were narrowed down to three finalists and the public was asked to choose the winner. Voting took place both online and in the lobby. The winner, Bending Table, consists of six separate, small tables that can fit together into one large table (18 x 6 feet). Each small table is a unique, organic shape designed to be scattered throughout the lobby when not configured together. The tabletops are milled from bamboo plywood; the central post and branched structure of each table is ash wood. A model of the table is currently on view in the lobby; the real thing will be installed later this fall.

Recent Acquisitions on View

September 19 2013

A wide-ranging and thought-provoking selection of recent acquisitions is on view in a dedicated gallery as part of the updated exhibition Art and Design in the Modern Age: Selections from The Wolfsonian Collection (ADMA), located on the museum’s fifth floor. The installation showcases works acquired during the past several years, both through donations and museum purchase.

Works include a 1918 poster urging viewers to “Beat Back the Hun with Liberty Bonds,” a 1930s poster promising that if one drinks milk “It Does Your Work for You,” a 1904 drawing of a burial scene in Manchuria during the Russo-Japanese War, a c. 1940 advertising display card for Colman’s Semolina, and a c. 1945 victory-themed matchbook. The examples mentioned are just a few of the almost three dozen objects on display. 

Twenty-Five Years of Excellence in Exhibition Design

September 19 2013

The processes of designing, building, and installing exhibitions are elements that the public almost never sees—the vast majority of exhibition viewers are privy only to the final product. What, exactly, goes into exhibition design and execution? And who does it?

At The Wolfsonian, the answer to that last question has held constant for the past twenty-five years—longer than The Wolfsonian has been open to the public. The museum’s exhibition designer, Richard Miltner, began working at what later became The Wolfsonian in March 1988. Preparator Steve Forero-Paz was already there, employed to help handle and move the growing collection amassed by museum founder Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. This year, both men celebrated twenty-five years of working with the collection.