The Birmingham Museum of Art opens new exhibition

The Birmingham Museum of Art is opening a new exhibition on Saturday, April 17 called Ways of Seeing: The Art of Travel, Trade, and Transportation.

Ways of Seeing: The Art of Travel, Trade, and Transportation is an exhibition that brings together over 70 objects from BMA’s permanent collection to explore subjects of travelling for both pleasure and necessity.

Birmingham Museum of Art
Man on Motorcycle/ Adama Kouyaté/ original print 1954-1955/ Malian (b. 1927/28 in French Soudan, lives and works in Bougani, Mali)/ Gelatin silver print /image: 16 1/4 × 16 1/8 in. (41.3 × 41 cm)/Gift of Peter Stepan, Intercultural Projects, Munich 2001.44

This exhibition brings together works from artists across the globe to consider the interconnectedness of this crucial aspect of life.

“The inherent and curious nature of mankind has continuously led us to explore and conquer land, sea, and air,” says Katherine Anne Paul, the Virginia and William M. Spencer III Curator of Asian Art. “Our nature to discover and learn the world around us, takes the form of a journey, both philosophical and literal. Art, being the oldest venue for expression of emotions, experiences, and creativity, was the perfect outlet for travelers to preserve and prolong their memories.”

The exhibition features both artists who traveled to foreign lands and those who stayed closer to home. Each generated aspirational and enjoyable imagery for the armchair traveler—often their intended audience. Within the exhibition, the joys of leisure travel are contrasted by the more poignant aspects of necessities of travel—for economic opportunity, military service, fleeing hardship, or being transported against one’s will. Localized and globalized trade in prized goods such as silver, ivory, tea, tobacco, and glass have a lasting and complicated legacy of beauty and tragedy. These works of art provide room for reflection on the costs and benefits of travel, trade, and transportation.

Birmingham Museum of Art
Fancy Dress (as Europeans) and Rasta, Nobles Masquerade Group, Winneba, Ghana / Phyllis Galembo, 2009, Museum purchase with funds provided by the Photography Guild 2013.3

The exhibition is displayed in two rotations and artworks are drawn entirely from the Museum’s permanent collection, many of which have never been exhibited to the public. Nearly all media is represented, ranging from acrylic, ink, oil, and watercolor paintings, to woodblock prints, etchings, lithographs, and aquatints. Not only drawings and photographs, but also quilts, weavings, jewelry, sculptures, and decorative arts in glass, ivory, and cloisonné will be displayed. Works range in date from the 2nd to the 20th centuries and feature works by artists from: China, Côte d’Ivoire, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mali, Navajo Nation, Scotland, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and the United States of America—including a number of Alabama artists.

“The exhibition weaves the centuries old and interconnected relationship between the concepts of travel, trade and transportation,” says Curatorial Assistant Hina Zaidi. “The codependence of these themes is so significant that one would not be possible without the others. The art objects and the interlaced themes ask the visitors to reflect at the cause and effect of travel, trade, and transportation.”

Birmingham Museum of Art
Train at Ikuta-machi in Kobe Meiji period (1868-1912), About 1910Hasegawa Sadanobu II 二代 長谷川貞信 also known as Konobu I 初代小信 Japanese, (b. 1848 – d. 1940) ink and color on paper Gift of Lt. Col. and Mrs. Charles C. Bennett 1998.35.8

The new exhibit will remain on view throughout 2021.

To see this and other exhibitions, check out the Birmingham Museum of Art located at 2000 Reverend Abraham Woods Jr Boulevard in Birmingham. The hours of operation are Tuesday – Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sundays from Noon to 5 p.m.

During Your Visit

Masks are required. All staff and visitors over the age of two are required to wear a mask throughout the duration of their visit. Physical distancing is encouraged. Visitors should remain at least six feet away from other individuals and works of art. Hand sanitizer stations will be available throughout the building for the convenience of visitors and staff.


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