29 April 2015
Review of Tuscaloosa Museum of Art
The first museum I visited was the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art just off of Jack Warner Parkway. It was a very nice art museum with different kinds of art throughout American history. I personally just observed the Early America and Revolutionary American sections since that is what our class focuses on. The two artworks that captured my attention the most was ‘An Allegory of America, circa 1575’, by Pauwels Franck, and ‘Washington Taking the Salute at Trenton’, by John Faed. Both works are completely relevant to our class just about 300 apart from each other in both the content and when the works were actually painted.
‘An Allegory of America, circa 1575’ is the first painting attached on the bottom and was the first painting I actually stopped at and observed genuinely. Painted in 1575, it portrays a negative view on Native Americans. As you can see in the back left of the painting the Natives are eating people, unorganized, and look barbaric or as early Spanish would say “uncivilized”. In the right corner you can see a Spanish army well put together, portrayed as civilized, while the Native soldiers are very disorganized. The Natives are also coming out of a dark rock, looking very evil, while the Spanish soldiers are in the sunlight. This painting was very interesting to me because it is physical proof of how the Spanish people viewed Native Americans back in the sixteenth century. Even though the painting does have a negative message, my review of the painting is very good because the artwork does such an incredible job of getting across the message it delivers to the audience it was intended for at the time.
The second painting I took a picture of, ‘Washington Taking the Salute at Trenton’, was intriguing to me because of the way painter John Faed portrays George Washington and how effectively he does it. The use of colors and size comparison makes Washington look very heroic. His white horse and vibrant body stands out compared to the shadows and darkness or “evil” in the background. This artwork does such a tremendous job of showing that Washington is a great leader and the United States is lucky to have had him as our nations first president. Even though it was painted in the mid-nineteenth century, it shows what an impact Washington had on our country and the way people during this time viewed him. My review of this painting was much more positive since obviously I agree that Washington was a great leader and first president. Overall I have good things to say about both of these artworks and the museum itself and would definitely recommend it to people interested in artwork produced during early America.
Today I visited the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art located on 1400 Jack Warner Pkwy NE. The first thing that stands out about the Museum of its Oriental building design which is rather unique and is a very nice building(5). The Museum belonged to a wealthy Tuscaloosa business man by the name of Jack Warner.
The Museum contains many works of art from the time of 1775 onward. The paintings vary greatly from year, artist, influence, meaning, and size. When you first walk in there are many portraits and landscape paintings. I am no art enthusiast, but I was a fan of some of the massive landscaping paintings that were very impressive. On the left wing of the building there was many photographs of native Americans hunting, socializing, playing lacrosse, fighting, and many others.(1) They had many sketches, water color, as well as oil base paintings. In the Middle, The museum had a large statue of John Hancock portraying him post signing of the Declaration of independence(2), as well as other paintings portraying the signing of the declaration and other key american history events. I even stumbled upon a picture that used to hang in the oval office from 1976 - 1989. (3) Towards the back I found more Civil war related photos that showed very little fighting but more of soldiers preparing for battle. (4) There were also paintings of slaves typically having a good lifestyle pre 1865 which I thought was interesting and may be a product of the collectors choice of what to collect and not collect.
1.2. 3.4. 5.
I went to visit the Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion today April 29th. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a free tour of the house and I learned a lot about the history of the residence. The guide explained to us that it was build over a period of 3+ years and served as Senators Robert Jemison Jr.'s Town house away from his plantation. The house is arguably the nicest house in Tuscaloosa at the time boasting the first in Tuscaloosa to have a fully plumbed bathroom, a bathtub with hot water, and even gas lighting. It even had its own toilets on the back porch of the house(one for slaves one for members of their family). Our Guide also mentioned that typically this house was ran by 13-17 slaves. This house was built to entertain large parties and show off the money of the Jemisons. Most interestingly we found out about the Cherokee Legend. According to our tour guide the family befriended the Cherokees and they protected them from a Choctaw attack. So they thanked them by naming their daughter Cherokee and it is now a family name.
The pictures I have uploaded are from Priscilla Cherokee Jemison's office, the first bathtub in Tuscaloosa, the back pavilion, original sliding doors, and the front of the Mansion.
The National Voting Rights Museum and Institute can be found in Selma, Alabama in their new location across The Edmund Pettus Bridge. This museum was a self-guided tour through the building with multiple exhibits on various things. The first area that you walk up to is a wall that tells you about what the area was like in 1965 when Martin Luther King Jr. led the famous march. On the wall are multiple pictures of the booming city at the time, with their old and unique buildings. The wall that I found most closely related to what we are learning in American history is the one that talks about what Selma was like during the Civil War.
During the American Civil War, Selma was one of the most important cities to the Confederacy because of its manufacturing abilities in which they produced a variety of supplies for the soldiers. Selma was also a place where they made plating for the ironclad warships; one of the famous being the “Tennessee”. Not long after being established as a city, Selma became one of the most powerful towns in Alabama when it came to politics, trade, and a rapidly growing population. Despite what all it grew to offer, the city of Selma fell to the Union forces on April 2, 1865 as the result of a short battle. Other exhibits in the museum were memorabilia of famous people who had lived in the city, an exhibit on Barack Obama, and a very large timeline that showed their city’s history. I also found it very intriguing that the museum itself is not funded by the state, but instead a wealthy African American woman who wanted the heritage and museum to live on in the small town.
On the Selma side of the Edmund Pettus Bridge that is so famous for the march across that Martin Luther King Jr. led, you can find the Slavery and Civil War Museum. The museum itself is not funded by the state, but rather a wealthy African American woman from around the area that did not want to see the history of the historical town wither away. The owner of the museum, as well as those employed by it, is in the stages of having the name changed to “Ancient Egyptian and Enslaved American Museum”. Inside the museum there is a variety of things to be seen.
When you walk through the doors, you enter a room that talks about slavery and how those that were taken from Africa were tricked and taken away from their homelands. To see the chains that they were put into and the distances that they were forced to walk was appalling. The next room we entered was filled with ancient Egyptian clothing and a timeline that explains the back-story behind those that ended up here in America as slaves. The next was an exhibit set up as an auction block, with readings beside, to help you grasp how those auctioned off at the spot were treated. The next room took more of a hold on the Civil War with facts and a time line. 186,000 Africans served in the Civil War and around 38,000 died in service. Though groups of people think that all slaves were forced to fight for the Confederacy, it is proven that they were not. In one area I was able to see a list of those involved in the 137th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry, Alabama name by name. The best part about the museum was being able to grasp an understanding the roles that African Americans played in the Civil War, and the outlook that those from Selma, Alabama have on it.
The Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park touches a corner of Tuscaloosa County, somewhat near the University of Alabama. I took a Sunday trip up to the beautiful site to check out the grounds and visit the Alabama Iron and Steel Museum. The museum took me by surprise at the amount of information and number of historical artifacts it provided.
In the 1800s, Alabama began to boom when it came to the manufacturing of iron. Never before in the world had someone found iron ore, coal, and limestone all so close together. They began by building forges on the creeks and rivers around the area for water power before steam power was introduced in the twentieth century. When looked at with the Civil War, this area was extremely important to the Confederacy and their war materials. On March 20, 1865 the largest cavalry army of the Civil War was launched directed toward all Alabama areas that were making war materials for the confederates. Brigade General John T. Croxton was dispatched with 1,500 troops to head toward Tannehill Ironworks, and move up from Tuscaloosa from there. Their attack was successful as they took out 13 Alabama iron work places that accounted for 70% of the Confederacies ammunition. There was also information in the museum in regards to the use of a forge hammer, weaponry produced and used, and things found around the grounds after the war. Out back there is the May Plantation Cotton Gin, as well as a shed that held actual machinery used to produce the iron products.
Another piece of American history prior to 1877 I was able to visit was the Mildred Warner House. This was the residence of many prominent Alabama families. The house was originally built by James Jenkins in 1822 as a two-room cabin. David Scott, a prominent merchant and church leader, added on to the house in 1832. From there the Burwell Boykin Lewis family occupied the residence from 1886. The president of the University of Alabama’s daughter and widow of a U.S. Congressman lived in the house until the turn of the century. Dr. George Little lived in the house with his family for decades before the Washington Moodys purchased the house in 1919. The house was listed in the Historic American Buildings survey in 1934, the first Tuscaloosa home to earn this distinction. Most recently, the David Warner Foundation was bought and renovated under the direction of Jack W. Warner and named for his mother, Mildred Westervelt Warner.
This house is vital to American and local history because of the many prominent inhabitants of the home over the centuries. It is interesting to see the many different hands that this house changed hands through. The house is in great condition and still stands in the center of the Historic District in downtown Tuscaloosa. The relevance to the course material is an insight to the architectural styles and influences during the time period. Many elements of the house are preserved so that visitors are able to observe today. I thought that the house was very momentous and is interestingly nested among other later homes in the suburban area. This landmark is able to blend in with the surrounding houses but offers a much greater piece of history to Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
I have had the privilege of visiting the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. It was such an amazing experience to get to see some of our countries oldest treasures. We saw a few artifacts from President Abraham Lincoln. We first saw his famous top hat, which was a bit worn and tattered, but still in a great condition considering it's age. We saw another exhibit of his, his horse drawn carriage. The carriage was used to transport Lincoln the night of his assassination and has been kept in great condition. Also on view, was George Washington's Bible, along with his wife, Martha Washington's, inauguration gown. The most amazing thing for me to see was the American flag that inspired the Star-Spangled Banner. The flag is almost two hundred years old and is 30by- 34-foot and kept in a special environmentally controlled chamber. It was so amazing to see the history behind out country come to life and see for yourself the amazing artifacts that make our country unique.
Today I went to the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art. I thought that it was very interesting to know that the frame of the building resembled a Japan style house. It was a beautiful museum with many different paintings and statues of American History. The first one that brought me to my attention was one of a painting of the Battle of the Sioux Saux and Fox. This painting was brought to my attention because the picture was of Native Americans chasing each other on horses. It was a group of about 20 people in the picture in an open field. I asked the historian to help explain this picture to me. He told me that these were two different Indian Tribes that were in constant conflict with each other. Many times the person with a sword on the horse would try to stab the horse first because it would slow them down and with enough slow houses, it was a guaranteed win. Many times these battles were over land. This is a beautiful painting. The next thing I’m going to write about was not a painting, but a weapon.
The museum had 4 ball bearing rifles from the civil war. I wasn’t allowed to touch them but they seemed very heavy. The barrel of the gun was very long, but that was for accuracy purposes. The historian stated that the rifles were able to travel up to 500 yards. It would carry a .58 caliber metal ball. After the ball was shot, they would have to reload the gun powder and place the ball down the barrel. Placing it in the barrel with a long rod. I enjoyed this museum much more than I did Moundville because of my love for art. It’s a difficult museum to find but it is well worth it.
I went to the Gorgas House Museum and I was amazed. I didn’t even know there were so many historical sites right on campus. The building was originally built to be a hotel (dorm) and a dining facility for the University of Alabama students before it got burned down. . I learned that during the Civil War the area which is our campus now burned down and all that stood was four buildings; one being the Gorgas House. When in the museum I noticed a uniform that a cadet wore from the University at the time of the burning. This uniform was very similar to the ones worn by the Confederate soldiers. They wore hats that didn’t seem to provide much protection and uniforms made out of wool which could have been extremely hot for them. The next thing that interested me was the piano which was a 1875 Haines Brothers Piano. These pianos are still made very similarly than they are right now. The piano was in amazing shape and it still had all the detail.
I enjoyed looking at the furniture that was in the museum. It was exactly what I expected from a house that was being used in the 1800’s. I was told that if you had a double staircase going to your front door, it signified political power, social power, and wealth.
The silverware, plates, pans, etc. were all plated in silver and had great detail. They have it in a showcase which can be seen when you walk into the house. This was a very historic museum with a lot of value for the state of Alabama.