The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum is celebrating its 20th anniversary by sharing its art collection with six other institutions in Saratoga and Warren Counties. All Together Now, organized by Dayton Director Ian Berry and Independent Curator Lisa Kolosek, is a regional collections sharing project created to strengthen and form new collaborations between neighbor arts organizations while showcasing rarely seen objects from the Tang Museum. Each partner organization will exhibit a selection of work from the Tang Collection and partner organizations will offer special public viewing hours during the course of the exhibitions.
All Together Now wordmark designed by Jean Tschanz-Egger, Head of Design, Tang Teaching Museum
Sharing Collections and Strengthening Community
In March 2020, The Tang Museum received a $275,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. “Thinking about collaborations, there has been a lot of emphasis among grant funding organizations - that they want to see collaborations across organizations,” said Michael Janario, Head of Communications at The Tang. Prior to All Together Now, The Tang had stronger relationships with some museums more than others in part because missions for these organizations were so different. “Part of this project was thinking about how can we strengthen our sense of community with our neighbors,” said Janario. “Is there a new way for us to share our collection with the public?”
The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College photograph by Tom Jenkins
The Tang does not have a permanent collection exhibition space and Janairo explained that in the seven and a half years since he has been with the museum, the collection has grown from 6,000 to more than 17,000 objects. “We are constantly rotating our exhibitions and like so many museums, we can only show a fraction of our collections,” said Janario.
All Together Now partner institutions include The Hyde Collection, Ellsworth Kelly Studio, the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, Saratoga Arts, Saratoga County History Center, Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), Shaker Museum of Mount Lebanon, and Yaddo. It was important for the Tang Museum to share its collection in both traditional and non-traditional spaces, like the SPAC, a large amphitheatre dedicated to music and performative arts. From June to October, the Tang Museum’s exhibition “Chromatic Scales: Psychedelic Design from the Tang Teaching Museum” will feature more than 30 recently acquired 1960s San Francisco psychedelic rock concert posters. The exhibition will be located in SPAC’s new “The Pines” facility lobby. Another partner institution, Yaddo, a retreat for artists that offers residences to professional creative artists, will open public access to its space. The exhibition, “Carl Van Vechten On Dance: Photographs from the Tang Teaching Museum Collection” will feature more than 80 photographs from the 1930s to the 1960s of dancers and choreographers by American photographer Carl Van Vechten.
Each exhibition coincides with the host location’s mission or identity of each institution. For example, the “Chromatic Scales” exhibition that features posters of major bands such as The Doors, Jefferson Airplane and Van Morrison at SPAC, a well-known summer performance venue for musicians. “The Social Lives of Hats” at the Saratoga County History Center (SCHC) pairs more than 25 hats in a variety of styles from the SCHC with several of Alfred Z. Solomon’s wood hat forms from the Tang collection.
Partner organizations can charge admission to see their exhibition but, in an agreement with the Tang, there must be times for free admission to the public.
Victor Moscoso, The Chambers Bros Concert Poster, 1967, screenprint, 21 3/8 x 15 /4 x 5/8 inches, Tang Teaching Museum collection. Gift of Jack Shear. 2018.36.3
A large part of All Together Now was thinking about audience sharing and marketing. “If we were able to show photographs from the Tang collection at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, maybe some of that audience would visit the Tang,” said Janario. The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fames’ exhibition “Muybridge and Motion” is on view from July 2021 through January 2022 and features a series of animal locomotion photographic studies from the late 19th century that changed the way people thought of the way horses moved. Curator of the National Museum of Racing, Victoria Reisman organized this exhibition utilizing the Tang collection of English photographer Eadweard Muybridge as well as the National Museum of Racing’s collection of equestrian paintings by American artist Henry Stull.
“This project welcomes visitors back to our institutions and develops new audiences for all of us,” said Ian Berry, the Dayton Director for The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum in a statement. “It is thrilling to see new research, conservation and photography already emerging and especially to see the connections between arts presenters in our region strengthen and flourish.” The Tang hopes that these exhibitions will also encourage locals to reconnect with their local museums and cultural organizations.
Challenges and Adaptations
The pandemic definitely changed some of the structure of All Together Now. The Tang was able to push All Together Now forward a year with permission from the Luce Foundation. Other casualties include a map and marketing brochure and the concept that someone visiting Saratoga could visit multiple exhibitions at once, but the pandemic changed the schedule with not all of the exhibitions happening at the same time. Some partners dropped out, but the core idea of the project remained the same–collaborating and working with other curators to produce an exhibition to be shown at different institutions.
Another change was a special event where The Tang commissioned ten poets from the Academy of American Poets to write in response to the exhibition Energy in All Directions that will be on view at the Shaker Museum of Mount Lebanon. SPAC commissioned composer Ken Frazelle to incorporate the poets’ words into a new composition for percussion and voice. Originally this was part of an in-person celebratory event. The Tang plans on recording this in the coming weeks and will release the recording to the public later this year.
At the beginning of this project, the focus was mainly about The Tang sharing its collections but All Together Now has developed into sharing conversations and resources. The Tang hosts weekly check-ins with partner organizations to discuss events, promotions, and provide an update about what is happening. “It’s great to hear the different ways that this project excites people,” said Janairo. “Hearing those kinds of attitudes shows a little bit of the difference of where people are coming from.”
Through All Together Now, The Tang has strengthened its sense of community among its regional museums and cultural institutions. In a statement to the Daily Gazette, Berry hopes that through this project, it “will be the start of a tighter, much more connected arts ecosystem in Saratoga.”
Learn more about All Together Now: https://tang.skidmore.edu/exhibitions/356-all-together-now