Gilcrease Museum travels across the globe
BY DUANE H. KING
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
2/13/13 at 4:03 AM
"All the world's a stage," Shakespeare wrote some 400 years ago, and the observation is becoming exponentially true for our Internet-connected, 24/7 society. Gilcrease Museum gained its own share of global exposure last year with the exhibition "La Nuova Frontiera," which appeared at the renowned Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Italy.
The exhibition ran from July 3 to Jan. 9 and drew 307,000 visitors from around the world.
This opportunity was especially significant for Tulsa, because for the first time in its history, Gilcrease Museum transported a major exhibition from its own collection to an international venue. For more than six months, one of Italy's most prestigious museums showcased more than 200 items from the Gilcrease collection - Western landscapes, American Indian leather work and pottery, century-old photographs, and more.
Interest was keen, and in the final weeks of the exhibit, the Palazzo Pitti extended its hours and even accommodated school groups during the Christmas vacation.
The Palazzo Pitti is the traditional home of the Medici family. The Vasari Corridor over the Ponte Vecchio connects it to the nearby Uffizi, which has the distinction of being the oldest picture museum in the world and home to works by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian and Rubens.
Still other museums such as the Galleria dell'Accademia and Palazzo Vecchio help make Florence an art-lover's paradise. In fact, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 60 percent of the world's most important works of art are in Italy, and approximately half of these are in Florence.
Given the world-class competition, why introduce the art from Gilcrease Museum to such a critical audience? Does anyone really expect the paintings of Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell, Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt, and Joseph Henry Sharp and the artistic creations of Native Americans to stand with the work of the Italian masters?
In a word, yes. As "La Nuova Frontiera" showed us, the rest of the world is eager to experience America in a deeper way - not just through our latest flashy exports but also through the vistas of raw beauty and the intricate native craft that defined America during a simpler but sometimes more colorful age, a time that uniquely tested and revealed our mettle as a nation.
This is a view of America that Gilcrease Museum is uniquely equipped to share and one that we are proud to preserve for future generations at home and around the world.
Duane H. King is University of Tulsa Vice President for Museum Affairs and executive director of the Gilcrease Museum.
Editor's note: "La Nuova Frontiera" or "The New Frontier" is making its way home to Gilcrease Museum and will be installed for an exhibition run May 18 through Sept. 29.
Duane H. King: This is a view of America that Gilcrease Museum is uniquely equipped to share and one that we are proud to preserve...