Posted by Nora on May 22, 2013
Pop Up Museums can serve different functions, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive. They can be a platform for public conversation, a community storytelling space, a creative meet up for an intact group, and an ephemeral exhibit for artists.
We had a Pop Up Museum on Altered Books last weekend at the Friend’s of Santa Cruz Public Library’s biannual book sale, providing a temporary display space for artists to display altered books. This pop up was done in collaboration with the Santa Cruz Public Libraries. View pictures from the event on MAH’s facebook album.
An altered book is a book that’s been artistically altered in some way— painted, rewritten, turned into sculpture, changing the book’s original form and/or meaning.
Placed amidst overflowing rows of for-sale library books, the Pop Up Museum prompted people to think about books in different ways.
The library also offered an altered books workshop where people could fold old books, giving anyone the opportunity to have something to display. View the altered books here.
People enjoyed sharing their altered books, but displaying artwork at the pop up museum can be tricky. For one, pop ups are hands on museums. We don’t put things behind glass. We don’t have guards. This type of exhibit can lend itself to more intimate interactions, but it can also subject the art to potential damage.
People have responded well to the pop up’s casual, open design. Visitors mention they love being able to touch the objects, and so far, nothing has been damaged. We like giving people the opportunity to touch things. It’s a chance for us to enable a tactile interaction with museum content. If displaying art or artifacts of significant value, vitrines or “please don’t touch signs” could be used. But for now, we’ll continue to use open, hand-me-down frames.
As we develop the pop up museum project, we’ll continue to work on building a format that is simple and replicable in diverse venues and for diverse reasons. Here are some things we discovered are helpful to have at all pop up museums:
A pop up tent: tents create a sense of space and can also be used to hang signs 2d works.
Clear, large signs: we like to have a welcome sign and an instructions sign, and a brief curatorial sign that introduces the given theme.
Blank frames: Frames allow people to touch objects, while still presenting the objects as pieces of art.
A workshop component: depending on the theme, a workshop gives anyone the opportunity to have something to display.
This was also the first pop up we’ve done outside, but it won’t be the last. Join us this Sunday, June 2nd from 1-3 for a Pop Up Museum on GROWTH at the UCSC Arboretum. Bring something you have grown or something that has helped you grow and display it amongst the Arboretum’s beautiful spring greenery.
The Pop Up Museum will take place in the Australian garden and will be complimented by an optional garden tour beginning at 2:30. In honor of the event, the Arboretum will stop charging admission at noon on this day.
Artifact of the Month: Groups, Gatherings, and Family Mantras, Photograph of Santa Cruz High School’s Boys’ Honor Society, 1915
Posted by Marla on
I depend heavily on the White Glove Crew, a group of volunteers who come every week to help me organize, catalog, and mystery-solve the items in the MAH’s collection.
These ladies: Sally Legakis, Nancie Martinez, Maria Smith, and Lani Hall are efficient, smart, and fun. We try our hardest to preserve Santa Cruz County history.
The White Glove Crew has become my archival warriors, my partners in collections, and more importantly, dear friends. I have learned so much from them. Lani is the resident historian of the group. Born and raised in Santa Cruz, she seems to know everything about Santa Cruz.
I remember many years ago we were looking at some photos in the archives. Lani was examining a group of young men in a black and white composition dating from the early 2oth century. It was labeled “H.T.T. June 1915.”
The teenagers were posed in orderly rows wearing somber suits and ties. Subtle smiles lingered on some of their faces, coaxing a viewer to smile back. Lani took one look at the photo, zeroed in on one figure and said, “Oh, that’s my dad.”
The photograph is of the Santa Cruz High School’s Boys’ Honor Society, known as “Hi Tow Tong,” a foreign name given to a fraternal “secret” group. Harold Ansley, Lani’s father, graduated from SCHS and was a classmate of local favorite actress, ZaSu Pitts. Lani says it’s pronounced “Zay-Soo” (not the commonly mispronounced “Zaw-Zoo”). In the photo, Harold is the second boy in the front row, left side.
Harold Ansley went on to study at California College of Arts and Crafts and became a painter. He returned to Santa Cruz, married and raised his daughters in our city, and they in turn raised their own.
Lani isn’t able to meet with us in the collection room as much as she used to but Sally, Nancie, and Maria still see her often. Last fall we gathered at Lani’s house for lunch where we got her up to speed on what we were cataloging: first hats, then shoes, and then purses (we’re on an accessories kick).
She showed us some of her dad’s paintings and photos of Santa Cruz—lots of beach scenes, like one of Castle Beach (“When it was our beach” Lani said). Also adorning her living room wall was a large needlepoint sampler made by Lani’s sister, with the words “Float Your Hardest” stitched on it.
It’s a memory that became a family mantra. An answer that Lani’s youngest told his dad when he asked him how swimming lessons went at the Harvey West pool one summer day. The little guy said, “Well, I floated my hardest.”
Float Your Hardest. Let’s all try.
Posted by Elise Granata on May 6, 2013
Alejandro grinned while pointing out to his son the enormous spread of bikes—tike-sized to penny-farthing—that gathered in front of Abbott Square in the sunset. It was spelled out on their faces: Alejandro, Rori and their newborn son Aurelio were thrilled by the Bike Parade assembling this past First Friday. “We’ve actually never been here before,” the couple admitted; but between the bustling bike valet parking out front, live music spilling out the doors and—of course—the bike parade, they couldn’t help but stop in.
Rori is a long-term Santa Cruz resident, and definitely longer term than Alejandro who just moved here from Pasadena, but neither had been to the MAH before this Friday. Part of the reason they were so enthusiastic to join in the First Friday festivities was because Rori had caught wind of the major changes taking place within the museum and its ripple into the community. The extravagant bike-couches, jugglers, accordion players and face-painted kids bopping around the museum’s perimeter were enough to seal the deal for their family. Honestly, we’re just excited for Aurelio to be old enough for Kid Happy Hour.
Posted by Elise Granata on April 20, 2013
Children and parents romped in the cardboard forest, collaborators and volunteers facilitated crafts and awareness activities from dozens of tables lining the walls, students and staff engaged each other in immersive group games on the temporarily landscaped third floor; the MAH buzzed from top to bottom on Friday evening for the museum’s Earth Day Jubilee. Two visitors in particular were really channeling the enthusiasm and curiosity coursing through the evening. For good reason. “It’s date day,” Rebecca smirked and shot a knowing glance to her partner Jon as she shared.
Their Friday was devoted to everything cute, everything Santa Cruz: a 4-mile hike at Henry Cowell State Park, reading at the beach, and a visit to the MAH for this dynamic event. Repeat visitors to the museum, the couple laughed and cracked jokes while snapping photos of one another in the Lezin Gallery, en route to take part in some of the art activities in the classroom next door. As far as Date Day was concerned, MAH was an essential part of their downtown experience. And their next stop? Fancy dinner.
Posted by Marla on April 18, 2013
A few months ago I bought a hat. I used to wear a lot of hats and still love the look of them. Try as I might to work it into my wardrobe rotation, I’ve never worn my new hat. Maybe if the tag inside said “Handley’s Millinery,” I’d give it a go.
Kate Handley was a local hat-maker. Born in 1857 to Irish immigrants, Kate went to Holy Cross School. She wanted to work in the newspaper business, but the nuns at her school were shocked at her choice of an “unladylike” profession. They steered her to what they thought was a more suitable trade. And so at age 16, Kate moved to San Francisco to apprentice at a milliner’s store.
When she returned to Santa Cruz, Kate set up shop at 138 Pacific Avenue. An 1886 Daily Surf article notes that Kate Handley’s establishment was the place to see “the latest thing out.”
Kate also took out many advertisements in the local paper to drum up business. Although she gave up her girlhood dream of becoming a reporter, Kate still made news even though she wasn’t the one writing it.
In a time when few women had careers outside the home, Kate was a successful businesswoman who for over 50 years helped the women of Santa Cruz look fashionable. And she walked every day from her High St. home to her Pacific Ave. shop.
My favorite Kate Handley hat in the MAH collection is one constructed of rich brown wool and felt. Fiery orange and red feathers flame out of one side while an orderly row of 4 bows decorate the other. I recently put this hat on display at the museum.
I wish had kept the Kate creation out longer. After I returned it to its home in the collection room, I was told that some people visited the museum just to see the Kate Handley hat. Yes, never underestimate the power of an accessory.
Fortunately we have a few Kate Handley hats in the MAH collection; they’re actually quite rare. The thing is many women loved Kate’s hats so much that they wore the heck out of them. Unlike my hat that still sits unworn on top of my dresser, begging to be the latest thing out.