Museum Visit – the Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College

A nice summer day on June 27, and what to do with ourselves? My husband and I spent part of it on the campus of Ursinus College in Collegeville, PA, about 30 minutes from our house. We visited the Berman Museum of Art and toured the campus to look at the sculpture collection that fills the grounds.

This small liberal arts college has a big art presence due to its benefactors, Philip and Muriel Berman, who donated art and facilitated the founding of the museum in the 1980’s. If you want to know more, look here. I’ll keep moving on to our actual visit today.

We walked across the quiet campus (I can recommend it for a nice peaceful experience), looking at some of the sculptures. Sculpture was an important art form to the Bermans and evidence of this is all over the campus. There is a map and guide to the sculptures alone and a tour of the grounds to look at them is worth a trip in itself.

On our way we stopped at the labyrinth and did a walk.

This labyrinth featured a pattern I had not encountered before. Additionally, the lines of demarcation were not high contrast with the body colors. It was therefore necessary to pay close attention to the experience in order to follow the pattern. I liked how that worked out in practice, and I also enjoyed looking at the pattern the spirals made as a whole.

We arrived at the museum.

I had to wait outside for a few minutes while my husband went back to the car for his mask (turned out he didn’t need it) and noticed this face looking up at me:

Was it meant to be a work of art, underfoot? I don’t know. A companion a few feet away had no such personality:

I choose to believe that however it came to be, the little face was meant to be noticed, and I am glad I did.

Once inside we chatted with two students who were manning the information booth and learned about the exhibits currently running. I will show you my favorite one.

It’s called MAPPING CLIMATE CHANGE: The Knitting Map and The Tempestry Project. It’s a two-part experience, but both sections involve the use of knitting/fabric/tapestry to map out a visual picture of time and the environment. Here are the materials used.

In the first section, The Tempestry Project, knitting is used to depict, through colors, the changes in temperature/weather over periods of time. Each knitted strip represents a different time frame. Some strips covered decades and some one year. Others showed the changes over a large geographic land mass, the US, and then moving down to our state, Pennsylvania.

I found this concept fascinating and I began to wonder about doing something along these lines myself. Not just weather/climate change, but also, how this concept could make a visual diary of all kinds of subjects that evolve over time. Hmmm…

In the next gallery, the exhibit continued with The Knitting Map, a project done in Cork, Ireland, about 15 years ago. In this enormous textile, the variables are the weather and also the time of day. Weather conditions and the level of activity in the city were broken down into knitting stitches and colors, so that a rainy cool day at rush hour was depicted by a certain combination vs. a hot sunny day at the quiet time of dawn would be another combination. About 2500 knitters participated to make this fabric.

It’s truly monumental, isn’t it?

Taken together, the two rooms gave me a new way to envision the passage of time and how things change, and it is a way that I myself could take and apply to something in my own life or experience. I found the idea very exciting. I also took in the message about the environment in a way that I had not before, as a continuum that unrolls as time goes on. A lot to see and think about here today.

For information about the exhibit from the museum’s website, look here.

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