When we last left off, Charlotte Partridge was the curator of the Layton Art Gallery, which was located on the northeast corner of North Jefferson street and Mason street. In 1957 the Layton Art Collection joined the Milwaukee Art Institute in the new War Memorial building. Three figures are key to the Layton Art Collection during this third period: Edward Dwight, Tracy Atkinson and Frederick Vogel III.
In late March, this semester’s group of Satellite teens took a field trip to the Chipstone Foundation in Fox Point, WI. You probably knew that Chipstone has a great decorative arts collection and produces progressive exhibitions in the Lower Level of the Milwaukee Art Museum. What you might not know is that they also have a site in Fox Point, where they host college-level age groups.
The Chipstone Foundation’s previous post introduced you to Temple Burling, our resident biophysicist. This post continues his story as he recounts his experience with a blue and white teabowl in Chipstone’s collection.
At the end of my last post, I found myself asking: “How did a porcelain tea-cup with an Asian inspired shape and decorative scheme come to be made in eighteenth-century America?”
This cup is a container for tea, but, as it turns out, the cup also overflows with wonderful stories that partially answer this question. These stories combine science, history, technology, commerce, and cultural exchange, making the cup a slice of a long and fascinating history of porcelain–from its invention in China in the 7th century, to the mania for porcelain collecting by European aristocrats beginning in the Renaissance and exploding during the 18th century.
Temple Burling, professor of physics, astronomy, biology and great ideas at Carthage College, has been part of the Object Lab team since 2009. He first connected with Chipstone staff through a shared interest in cabinets of curiosities, an example of which is our Rooms of Wonder exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Since we first got to know him, Temple has been bringing his museum studies class up to Milwaukee every year (yes, he is a biophysicist that teaches a course on museums), as well as discussing possible collaborative projects with us. The opportunity came up when Temple was awarded a sabbatical, and he asked if he could spend this year’s fall semester in Milwaukee studying the Chipstone Foundation’s collection.
We jumped at the chance to have a scientist interpret our collection. Since his sabbatical is almost over, I asked Temple to write about his experience these past few months. View an object in the Chipstone collection through the eyes of a brilliant scientist, in part one of two posts, below.