Hosted by Tim Gihring, "The Object" podcast explores the strange and wonderful true stories behind museum objects, touching on immigration, race, and other issues. An object's view of history. (Produced by the Minneapolis Institute of Art)
Bonus episode: A New Year's to Remember
As the page finally turns on 2020, enjoy this bonus episode on the New Year's illustrations made by Winslow Homer for Harper's Weekly magazine in 1869. At a moment surprisingly similar to our own, the American artist captured something of the feeling then, even as his life--and art history--was about to change forever.
You can see the illustrations in the collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Art here: https://collections.artsmia.org/search/new%20year's%20homer
Monsters and Marvels, Part III: The Mermaid's Tale
Mermaids had been surfacing in art for thousands of years when, in the 1880s, Edward Burne-Jones began painting them as avatars of a radical new female identity in the corseted Victorian era. A story of desire and danger as legendary as the creatures themselves.
You can see one of Burne-Jones' early mermaid paintings, "A Sea-Nymph," at the Minneapolis Institute of Art: https://collections.artsmia.org/art/99878/a-sea-nymph-edward-coley-burne-jones. His best-known mermaid work, "The Depths of the Sea," is at the Fogg Museum at Harvard University: https://harvardartmuseums.org/art/298102
Special thanks to Grace Nuth and Sarah Peverley for sharing their expertise on this episode.
Grace Nuth is a writer, artist, and fine-art model living in central Ohio. She is the senior editor of Enchanted Living magazine and the co-author of The Faerie Handbook. She regularly writes on a variety of topics at her blog at www.gracenuth.com.
Sarah Peverley is a professor of English at the University of Liverpool and a BBC New Generation Thinker. She is writing a cultural history of mermaids, and is the author of several radio programmes, media features, and podcasts about merfolk. You can follow her work at her website (www.sarahpeverley.com), on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Sarah_Peverley, and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/sarahpeverley/.
Monsters and Marvels Part II: Finding Unicorns
Artists have captured unicorns for thousands of years, and for most of that time people thought they were both magical and real. What can an imaginary creature tell us about ourselves? What did we lose when we stopped believing? And why do we still love them anyway?
You can see unicorns in art through the ages in the collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, including this tapestry from the late Middle Ages: https://collections.artsmia.org/art/531/allegorical-millefleurs-tapestry-with-animals-belgium
Thanks to Natalie Lawrence and Marguerite Ragnow for sharing their expertise on this episode.
Lawrence is a freelance writer with a PhD from the University of Cambridge on exotic monsters in early modern Europe. She is currently writing a book on the history of monsters. Find her work on her blog (https://themanticore.wordpress.com) and her website (https://www.nataliejlawrence.com).
Ragnow is a historian and curator of the James Ford Bell Library (https://www.lib.umn.edu/bell) at the University of Minnesota, a collection about trade and exploration, featuring rare books, maps, and manuscripts. She is working on a book about unicorns.
Monsters and Marvels Part I: The Magic Shell
From narwhals to nautilus shells, dragon eggs to mermaid hands, the obsession with oddities in the Age of Discovery may seem, well, odd. But did the study of outliers, in the early version of museums, help make us the rational creatures we are today?
See the nautilus shell cup from this episode here: https://collections.artsmia.org/art/111675/nautilus-shell-cup-germany
The Animalier: Rosa Bonheur's Wild Kingdom
The animalier artists love lions and tigers and bears — anything with teeth and no business being in Paris in the 1800s. No one more than Rosa Bonheur, the smoking, joking, pants-wearing painter who becomes a celebrity, the most famous female artist of her time, by embracing the very things men fear most.
You can see one of her lion prints here: https://collections.artsmia.org/art/10491/royalty-at-home-rosa-bonheur
And her painter's palette, charmingly adorned with a deer: https://collections.artsmia.org/art/4483/palette-rosa-bonheur
Romancing the Stone: The Secret of the Chac Mool
A mysterious stone sculpture, supposedly found in Mexico, is hailed as a Chac Mool, the iconic Mayan vessel of human sacrifice. It tours Europe as a masterpiece of ancient Mesoamerican art. It's featured in magazines and books. But a surprising discovery suddenly begs the question: What is it really?
See the Chac Mool for yourself here: https://collections.artsmia.org/art/17203/chacmool-maya
Customer ReviewsSee All
Always interesting and informative
One of my favorite art history podcasts! I look forward to new episodes. Extremely well done and informative.
Entertaining and Informative
For anyone who loves history, art or a really good story. Fascinating background behind particular pieces of art in the MIA collection which sheds light on a wide range of artists and art movements throughout history. I have learned a great deal from listening to this excellent podcast.
I absolutely love to visit the MIA. It's one of my favorite museums. This look at the history of their art is fascinating.