Cataloging the Wunderkammer

Throughout the 2014 spring quarter the Art, Design & Architecture Museum has been active in connecting with its donors through museum trips and private tours to view their impressive collections. In this instance, the AD&A Museum worked closely with Jere and Fima Lifshtiz from Montecito, CA on a new project involving their extensive collection of art from around the world. Mariel Lacson and myself have been diligently cataloging and researching pieces from the Lifshitz collection for the past five weeks. The work has been insightful, exciting, and above all, rewarding.

In leading the project, it was my initiative to use this time as a learning experience in effectively cataloging a client’s art collection while establishing friendly relations with donors. Upon meeting Jere and Fima Lifshitz one cannot help but be captivated by the dynamic duo. Their love of travel and fine craft are reflected in their worldly collection. To say they love art is an understatement; it has become a part of their identities and even where they live. It fills every space available in their home: lining the walls, cluttering the shelves, functioning as furniture, and adorning their property. A home has never been as eclectic as this live-able wunderkammer, a true cabinet of curiosities. Of course, looking at the art is one thing, cataloging this chaotic trove was to be an entirely different experience.

In starting the project we established a plan to work from room-to-room and by geographic region. Our first room was almost entirely comprised of Asian artwork. From small china cups to three-foot tall marble sculptures, the Lisfshitz’s Asian art shows both variety and character. To begin cataloging, the art needed to be photographed, measured from all sides, and have its basic information recorded. I might not have possessed professional photography skills before this experience, but I sure do now. Not to mention I have a better appreciation for the metric system. Seventy pieces later, we were ready to start building our catalog.

The second part of this process involves gathering origin information and other pertinent details related to each individual piece. After a crash-course from Mariel in Microsoft Excel for museum registrars, we are working together with Mr. Lifshitz to gather records for the Asian artworks and to choose photos that genuinely represent the art. This is an ongoing process that once finished will give the Lifshitz’s the comprehensive records necessary for any future donation.

Stay tuned for further information on the Lifshitz project from the Collection Management department at the Art, Design & Architecture Museum.

– Logan Recchia, Intern

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