Exhibition launches virtual archive of curiosities from Newport collections

A collection of historic and curious Newport artifacts displayed in both natural and virtual environments will be featured in a public exhibition at the Dorrance H. Hamilton Gallery from Nov. 9-21. The multimedia exhibition, “Encountering Wonders: A Virtual Cabinet of Curiosities from Newport Collections,” will open with a public reception from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9 at the gallery.

This exhibition offers the experience of visiting a cabinet of curiosities by transforming the gallery into a space of wonder and exploration. Specimens, natural wonders, books and other works offer visitors the opportunity to delve deeper into the tradition of collecting and its ties to Newport. A truly interactive exhibit, “Encountering Wonders” includes computers in the gallery that allow visitors to learn about and study in greater detail the curious objects gathered and their intriguing histories.

“Encountering Wonders” also celebrates the launch of a new virtual exhibition space at the University that offers a digital archive and catalog essays about works curated in the “Curious & Collected” exhibition hosted at the gallery last winter. While the “Curious & Collected” exhibition explored the tradition of cabinets of curiosities by presenting an array of images and objects, “Encountering Wonders” highlights new scholarship that provides a contextual understanding within which to understand these works.

The idea for the virtual exhibition space derived from research by Department of Art and Art History faculty Dr. Anthony Mangieri and Ernest Jolicoeur, who co-taught a course on Curatorial Practices and the Gallery Experience, and who together shared a $5,000 Sister M. Therese Antone Academic Excellence Award for special projects to develop the Natural Wonders Collection and Library. In the coming months, they will collaborate with students to transform a small meeting room in Antone Academic Center into a dynamic cabinet of wonders for the Salve community.

The work of Salve student curators, scholars and designers who took the Curatorial Practices course is featured on the website newportcuriosities.com. The website gathers and analyzes works from the collections of the Newport Historical Society and Salve Regina’s Noreen Stonor Drexel Cultural and Historic Preservation Program, as well works from the private collections of Nicholas and Shelley Schorsch and James Baker.

“We hope that studying cabinets of curiosities and creating our own natural history collection at Salve will inspire a sense of wonder in our students and advance the visual study and analysis of the natural world,” Mangieri and Jolicoeur write.

The Dorrance H. Hamilton Gallery is open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 5 pm., and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. The gallery is closed on Mondays.

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