A grant of $50,000.00 over two years, starting in 2011 for the planning of the reinstallation of the African Gallery. The DMA’s African art collection is acclaimed as one of the top five in the United States. This grant funded travel and a stipend for Edleeca Thompson, a doctoral student at UT Dallas and Research Assistant in the planning for the upcoming reinstallation of the African galleries. Edleeca Thompson was working with Dr. Roslyn A. Walker, the Senior Curator of The Arts of Africa, the Americas and the Pacific and The Margaret McDermott Curator of African Art at the DMA.
Phase one: Dr. Walker and Edleeca Thompson visited recently installed African art collections at several museums, for example, the St. Louis Art Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Nelson Atkins Museum, Neuberger Museum, Newark Museum of Art, and Yale University Art Gallery. Thompson compiled and organized the information gathered, e.g., gallery space and special relationships within the gallery, colors, observations of visitors’ interactive experiences, visitor surveys, took notes on the DMA curator’s conversations with colleagues at the museums visited, photography, floor plans, and the like. The “best practices” garnered from evaluating the various museums was invaluable to the fall 2012 reinstallation of the DMA’s African Galleries. This information is shared with Education Department colleagues and utilized in planning innovative learning experiences.
Phase two: Thompson assisted the DMA curator in research on the works of art. Only 110 objects were featured in The Arts of Africa at the Dallas Museum of Art (2009), and the installation will include another 100 objects and a reserve group for the anticipated first round of rotations. The information about these objects will be reviewed and updated to assure that all interpretive materials, e.g., object labels, text panels, Gallery Guides, and smARTphone tours are current and accurate. Thompson will also locate appropriate photographs and moving footage as well as traditional music that contextualize the objects on display in upcoming installation.