Past News at Kluge-Ruhe

Kluge-Ruhe Collection undertaking new conservation initiatives • Friday May 7, 2010

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May is National Museum Month and Virginia museums are focusing on the conservation of collections, a critical function of the museum. The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection has just released a digital slide show featuring two conservation projects currently underway and plans for the future.

Located in a historic house in the Pantops area of Charlottesville, the Kluge-Ruhe Collection contains over 1700 objects including paintings, sculpture and artifacts. It is considered to be the most significant collection of Australian Aboriginal art outside Australia. The museum recently obtained funding to undertake two large scale projects to improve preservation of over 600 works of art from the collection.

The acrylic paintings project will upgrade the conditions of 100 acrylic paintings from the Central Desert region of Australia. Staff members and student interns are examining the paintings, documenting their condition and preparing them for relocation to off-site storage. The paintings will then be moved into custom storage bins designed for better protection and accessibility.

The bark painting project will preserve 530 bark paintings from Arnhem Land in northern Australia. Kluge-Ruhe staff and interns are creating custom archival-quality trays to support and immobilize each bark painting. This re-housing project will facilitate access to the collection and minimize direct handling of the art during retrieval. The trays will maximize the current storage space and can be used to safely pack and transport the bark paintings.

Kluge-Ruhe’s future plans to preserve the collection include a new conservation and storage center designated for several collections owned by the University. The facility will double Kluge-Ruhe’s current storage space and create improved access to the collection for staff, students, and researchers. Shared conservation labs and teaching space will also encourage collaboration among staff members working to preserve collections across the University.

Mount Liebig Photography Project 2004 Opens May 11 • Wednesday May 5, 2010

The Kluge-Ruhe Collection will exhibit the Mount Liebig Photography Project 2004 May 11 – August 15, 2010. In 2004, photographer Simon Davidson visited Amunturrngu at the invitation of the community arts coordinator. He was invited to work with young people on a photography project initially devised as a petrol sniffing diversion program.

After some familiarization in the basics of lighting and composition, 19 young people were given 35 mm disposable cameras for the purpose of documenting their daily lives. Their instructions were to ‘tell a story’ with every picture.

The participants created 111 images, 16 of which appear in this exhibit. One photograph, Untitled 20 by Patrick Collins Tjapaltjarri, was a finalist in the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award in 2005 and appears in John Ogden’s book Portraits from a Land Without People.

The exhibit shows the realities of life in Amunturrngu, including images of young people sniffing petrol. The subjects of these pictures gave permission for their public display because they are proud that petrol sniffing has been eradicated in the community.

Davidson says, “The photographs take us on an intimate journey into people’s lives to show us how the Mount Liebig community sees itself. No outsider could capture these images with so much honesty.”

Three contemporary paintings by Mount Liebig artists Bill Whiskey Tjapaltjarri, Wentja Napaltjarri and Ngoia Pollard Napaltjarri will also be shown. This exhibition was loaned by Watiyawanu Artists of Amunturrngu and Peta Appleyard Gallery, Alice Springs.

Image: Patrick Collins Tjapaltjarri, Untitled 20, 2004. Courtesy of Watiyawanu Artists of Amunturrngu and Peta Appleyard Gallery.

Richard Bell to deliver Kluge Distinguished Lecture • Tuesday April 6, 2010

Artist Richard Bell will deliver the John W. and Maria T. Kluge Distinguished Lecture in Arts and Humanities at the University of Virginia on Wednesday, April 21 at 6:00 pm. The lecture, titled Talking the Talk, will take place at Campbell Hall, Room 153. Following the lecture there will be a reception with the artist at UVa Art Museum.

Richard Bell was born in 1953 in Charleville, Queensland, and is a member of the Kamilaroi, Kooma, Jiman and Gurang Gurang communities. Based in Brisbane, Richard is represented in major collections in Australia and has participated in numerous exhibitions, including the significant European touring exhibition Aratjara: Art of the First Australians, 1993; Culture Warriors: The National Indigenous Art Triennial, 2007 and the 9th and 16th Sydney Biennales. He won the Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award in 2003. Bell is a founding member of proppaNOW, a Brisbane-based Aboriginal artist collective. He is represented by Milani Gallery in Brisbane.

RSVP for the reception only – 434 244-0234 or email the Kluge-Ruhe Collection. Free parking is available in the Culbreth Parking Garage after 5 pm.

Image: Richard Bell, Scratch an Aussie #4, 2008 courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane

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