Cincinnati Art Museum
The Cincinnati Art Museum offered an internship to aid the Prints Department with of a gift of 800 Japanese prints from the Joel and Bernice Weisman Collection. The collection contains prints that date from the 1760s to the present and represent a wide range of imagery. The collection’s strength lies in its breadth of compelling subject matter, which includes: Bijinga (pictures of beautiful women), theatrical prints of raucous Kabuki plays, famous landscapes, Kachōga (depictions of birds and flowers), Surimono (literally meaning ‘printed thing’), Shin Hanga (a movement that revitalized traditional Ukiyo-e art styles), and a myriad of cat portraits. Having previously studied East Asian art history I was very excited about this opportunity.
Under the supervision of the Curator of Prints, Kristin Spangenberg, I assisted in researching, documenting, and cataloging the collection. I began by researching each print and identifying their inscriptions. I identified technique, inscriptions, measurements, provenance, and more. With this newfound information I then entered it into the Vernon management software program where it became a record in the museum’s collection. This process allowed me to work closely with all of the pieces in the collection and expand my knowledge of the printmaking process and Japanese art history.
I also had the opportunity to work with the Paper Conservator, Cecile Mear. She explained the different problems that face works on paper and how to identify them. I then went through the prints and searched for problems such as warping and foxing and generated a condition report. When creating the condition reports I looked at the prints in a different way than I had while cataloguing them and it was a very informative experience. I now understand the significance of proper care and housing of prints.
Towards the end of my internship I was lucky enough to meet one of the generous donors of the collection, Bernice Weisman. She told me about her favorite prints in her collection and the joy that collecting prints has brought her. Talking with Bernice really brought the whole experience and everything I had learned from Kristin and Cecile together.
As I go forward to graduate school and in my career I will definitely use the knowledge about prints I’ve acquired through this experience. The knowledge I’ve gained through the IFPDA internship at the Cincinnati Art Museum will be incredibly valuable as I pursue a career in the curatorial field.