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History of Art
June 26, 2020

The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) received a grant award of $4,100 from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation in support of lecture and gallery costs for the exhibition Michelangelo: Mind of the Master. The following description of two very different public programs, offered by the Museum in conjunction with the Michelangelo exhibition, have been taken directly from the final report submitted by the CMA.

Left: Study of a Striding Male Nude, 1504 or 1506. Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian, 1475–1564). Black chalk; 40.4 x 25.8 cm. Teylers Museum, purchased in 1790. Right: Michelangelo: Mind of the Master, on view at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Teylers Museum, Haarlem; Cleveland Museum of Art

The works of Michelangelo (1475–1564) remain an enduring source of awe and fascination more than 500 years after his death. The exhibition Michelangelo: Mind of the Master presented 28 drawings by this consummate Renaissance master to Cleveland audiences for the first time. This group of drawings, from the Teylers Museum, Haarlem, and once in the collection of Queen Christina of Sweden (1626–1689), sheds new light on Michelangelo’s inventive preparations for his most important and groundbreaking commissions in the realms of painting, sculpture, and architecture. These working studies and sketches, usually covering both sides of the paper, offer a special look at Michelangelo’s breathtaking draftsmanship as well as his creative process for a range of projects including the Sistine Chapel ceiling fresco, sculptures for the tomb of Giuliano de’ Medici, and the dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica.

The exhibition was on view in Cleveland from September 22, 2019 until January 5, 2020, attracting an audience in excess of 75,000. The Kress-supported lecture entitled Michelangelo’s Figures, Turned and Toned was delivered by Dr. Cammy Brothers, of Northeastern University, to an audience of approximately 180 individuals on a Saturday afternoon in October.

Kress funding was also allocated toward another aspect of the exhibition's public programming offerings – the Drawing Lounge – a unique pop-up studio space designed to complement the Michelangelo exhibition. The CMA Drawing Lounge was available to museum goers twice weekly during the run of the exhibition, with leadership provided by artist and teacher Adrian Eisenhower. This unique program served more than 2,000 individuals. Participants of the drawing lounge included a diverse range of ages, genders, and level of drawing expertise, and all were provided with an opportunity to work from an easel surrounded by a small group of others doing the same. Some sessions featured still-life set-ups (using objects from CMA Education Art collection) while others had a model.

Artist and teacher Adrian Eisenhower (left) leads sessions of the Drawing Lounge at the Cleveland Museum of Art. 

Cleveland Museum of Art

The CMA Division of Public and Academic Engagement approaches each exhibition as an opportunity to engage and inspire museum audiences. The public lecture presented in connection with Michelangelo was relatively consistent with the established format for such programs. The Drawing Lounge, however, was a first-time offering, which proved to be incredibly appealing to CMA guests. The success of this pilot will likely inform future program planning and implementation at the museum.

More information about the Drawing Lounge can be found at CMA’s The Thinker blog: https://medium.com/cma-thinker/drawing-on-inspiration-teaching-artist-adrian-eisenhower-discusses-the-cmas-michelangelo-pop-up-7a0493bee304