What do painted eggs, 10.1 surround sound, your great grandmother’s swim suit, and a comfortable red chair have in common? Nothing frankly, except that they are all currently in the Berman Museum of Art.
This past week, the Berman kicked off its 30th Anniversary with a bang, opening a total of five new exhibitions to the public. The topics of these exhibitions range from metallic sound-producing sculptures to tackling how and what labor we value as a society, giving museum- goers a truly immersive experience.
The third floor gallery houses Stephanie Rowden’s “The Collection Speaks,” a dual experience of visual sights and audio meant to inform a close reading of the works on display. This exhibition, curated by Rowden, takes a few pieces out of the more than 8,000 works in the Berman’s vaults, bringing them into the light for viewers to draw new relationships between them and conclusions about them.
Two related shows are on display in the front and main gallery of the museum, and you will definitely hear the show before you see it. The well-lit front gallery is home to “The Tool-bag Years,” drawings and paintings by David Scher. These small vignettes about the lives of laborers feature activities often thought of as mundane, such as hammering a nail or climbing a ladder. When brought into the setting of a museum, these windows into others’ lives are meant to instill the idea that physical labor is no less important than intellectual labor.
The main gallery has been transformed into a pseudo-workshop, complete with dozens of wooden saw horses. The floor has been covered for overhead projects to display a bird’s eye view of the original performance, accompanied by surround sound speakers giving viewers the physical feeling of being there.
The basement level is where you will find the remaining exhibitions, and the location of that aforementioned comfy red chair. The first show you will see upon entering is the collection of sculptures and prints done by the late artist Harry Bertoia. The sculptures could be considered peculiarly shaped to some, one reminiscent of a willow tree with a dome of draping fibers hanging toward the ground.
Walking toward the large windows, you will find along the walls a timeline and a grid of love letters written to the Berman in celebration of the museum’s anniversary. In these letters, alumni recount hours of studying (before the museum, the building was a library) and love for the past art shows the museum has put on.
The Berman is open to visitors 11-4pm, Tuesday through Sunday.