Wildlife Art Revealed

Topic: Art Subtopic: General

Case Study

of an Exhibition

by Ryan Barber

Published on October 08, 2009

  • Description and goals

    The exhibit “Wildlife Art Revealed” presents wildlife art in a variety of artistic media, while also giving visitors a rare glimpse into the fascinating processes artists use to create their work. The exhibit is open at the Virginia Museum of Natural History from September 26, 2009 to January 9, 2010.

    Wildlife Art Revealed features wildlife art in different media by selected artists. The exhibit includes bronze animal sculptures by Paul Rhymer, pyrography (wood burning) by Julie Bender, oil paintings and graphite drawings by Robert Caldwell, and bronze animal sculptures by Roger Martin.

    In addition to displays of the artistsÂ’ work, the exhibit also highlights the unique processes artists use in the creation of their work. The exhibit features time-lapsed video showing the creation of the art, along with first-person interviews with the artists, providing visitors with information about the complex and lengthy process of creating the various works of art.

  • Development process and challenges

    This exhibit is the result of a successful collaboration between staff at the Virginia Museum of Natural History and the artists featured in the exhibit. Working with artist Paul Rhymer, staff at VMNH developed an exhibit that showcases the specific topic of animal art. In order to feature a variety of media, exhibit developers worked with Rhymer to coordinate the inclusion of other artists and their various works. The result is an exhibit that includes bronze sculptures by Paul Rhymer and Roger Martin, pyrography (wood burning) by Julie Bender, and oil paintings and graphite drawings by Robert Caldwell.

    While an exhibit featuring spectacular works of art is a good draw for museum visitors, we wanted to take the exhibit a step further and give visitors a glimpse into the lengthy, complicated and fascinating processes the artists use to create their works. From detailed studies of anatomy to hours spent outdoors studying and observing animals, the techniques and tools used by the artists are presented in the exhibit through text, images and videos.

  • Lessons learned, mistakes we made (and what we did about them)

    With its primary content consisting of fine art in a variety of media, this exhibit is unlike anything previously developed by staff at the Virginia Museum of Natural History. However, by taking the exhibit a step further by educating visitors about the process of how the works are created, VMNH staff and the featured artists worked together to create a unique, one-of-a-kind exhibition. By remaining open to new ideas and being willing to create an exhibition outside of our “comfort zone”, we have ended up with a successful exhibition on a limited budget.

  • Exhibition Opened: September 2009

  • Exhibition Still Open!

  • Traveling Exhibition: No

  • Location: Martinsville, VA, United States

  • Estimated Cost: Less than $100,000 (US)

  • Size: 1000 to 3,000 sq ft.

  • Other funding source(s): Sponsorship

  • Website(s):  http://www.vmnh.net/index.cfm/topic/wildlife-art-revealed

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