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Moses Myers House

323 E. Freemason St.
Open Saturday and Sunday

Noon–5 p.m.

Jean Outland Chrysler Library

Reading Room
Currently closed

About the Myers House

The oldest Jewish home in America open to the public as a museum offers a glimpse of the life of an early 19th century merchant family.
More about the house

About the Library

With an extensive collection of more than 106,000 rare and unique volumes relating to the history of art, the Jean Outland Chrysler Art Library is one of the most significant art libraries in the South. More about the library

Located in Norfolk

One Memorial Place,
Norfolk, VA
Get Directions

While You're Here

Visit our Museum Shop
and the Wisteria Cafe.

Perry Glass Studio

A state-of-art facility on the Museum’s campus. See a free glassmaking demo Tuesdays–Sunday at noon. Like what you see? Take a class with us! More about the Studio

Moses Myers House

The home of the first permanent Jewish residents of Norfolk, this historic house offers a glimpse of the life of a wealthy early 19th-century merchant family.
More about the house

Jean Outland Chrysler Library

With an extensive collection of more than 106,000 rare and unique volumes relating to the history of art, the Jean Outland Chrysler Library is one of the most significant art libraries in the South. More about the Library

Wedding & Event Rentals

The perfect place for your big day or special event. Get the details

In-person Tours

Group tours are available for groups of 20 or fewer. More about tours

Jean Outland Chrysler Library

Visit one of the most significant art libraries in the South. More about the library

About the Chrysler

Our story spans well over 100 years. See where we began, how we grew, and where we're going. Explore our history

News and Announcements

See what's happening at the Museum, read Chrysler Magazine, and find our Media Center. Read now

Location

745 Duke Street
Norfolk, VA 23510
757-333-6299

Always Free Parking

Get Directions

Visiting Artist Series

Bringing the world’s top glass art talent to Hampton Roads
Find out more

Studio Team

Meet the brilliant minds behind the Studio.
See the team

Give the Chrysler Experience

Share everything you love about the Chrysler Museum with a gift membership. Perfect for everyone on your list.

The Masterpiece Society

Learn about this innovative group of museum supporters.
Meet the Masterpiece Society

Planned Giving

Help ensure the long-term success of the Museum.
Learn about planned giving

Moses Myers House

323 E. Freemason St.
Open Saturday and Sunday

Noon–5 p.m.

Jean Outland Chrysler Library

Reading Room
Currently closed

About the Myers House

The oldest Jewish home in America open to the public as a museum offers a glimpse of the life of an early 19th century merchant family.
More about the house

About the Library

With an extensive collection of more than 106,000 rare and unique volumes relating to the history of art, the Jean Outland Chrysler Art Library is one of the most significant art libraries in the South. More about the library

Located in Norfolk

One Memorial Place,
Norfolk, VA
Get Directions

While You're Here

Visit our Museum Shop
and the Wisteria Cafe.

Perry Glass Studio

A state-of-art facility on the Museum’s campus. See a free glassmaking demo Tuesdays–Sunday at noon. Like what you see? Take a class with us! More about the Studio

Moses Myers House

The home of the first permanent Jewish residents of Norfolk, this historic house offers a glimpse of the life of a wealthy early 19th-century merchant family.
More about the house

Jean Outland Chrysler Library

With an extensive collection of more than 106,000 rare and unique volumes relating to the history of art, the Jean Outland Chrysler Library is one of the most significant art libraries in the South. More about the Library

Wedding & Event Rentals

The perfect place for your big day or special event. Get the details

In-person Tours

Group tours are available for groups of 20 or fewer. More about tours

Jean Outland Chrysler Library

Visit one of the most significant art libraries in the South. More about the library

About the Chrysler

Our story spans well over 100 years. See where we began, how we grew, and where we're going. Explore our history

News and Announcements

See what's happening at the Museum, read Chrysler Magazine, and find our Media Center. Read now

Location

745 Duke Street
Norfolk, VA 23510
757-333-6299

Always Free Parking

Get Directions

Visiting Artist Series

Bringing the world’s top glass art talent to Hampton Roads
Find out more

Studio Team

Meet the brilliant minds behind the Studio.
See the team

Give the Chrysler Experience

Share everything you love about the Chrysler Museum with a gift membership. Perfect for everyone on your list.

The Masterpiece Society

Learn about this innovative group of museum supporters.
Meet the Masterpiece Society

Planned Giving

Help ensure the long-term success of the Museum.
Learn about planned giving

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August 5, 2021

Research, Reflection, and Revelations at the Chrysler

–Jackie Siegel, 2021 Curatorial Intern

I once viewed art museums as platforms for aesthetic immersion, where individual artworks produce intuitive and visceral responses to beautiful stimuli. Yet as my undergraduate studies in art history at the University of Virginia progressed, I began to view art objects as material manifestations of the historical and cultural contexts in which they were created, displayed, and interpreted. Even further, my undergraduate research and thesis, entitled “General Idea and Imagevirus: An Aesthetic Response to the AIDS Crisis,” revealed the many ways in which art can effectuate social and political change, spark conversations among diverse audiences, and lend a voice to those who have been quieted. I now know these distinct facets of the art museum – as channels for aesthetic value and beauty, as spaces dedicated to cultural preservation and art historical contextualization, and as forums for inclusive and equitable dialogue – can exist simultaneously, as I observed and personally felt throughout my internship at the Chrysler Museum.

This notion was repeatedly reinforced throughout the string of projects, meetings, and conversations that comprised my internship in the curatorial department. One of my projects, in particular, served as a springboard for a new way of thinking about the history of museums and collecting. Under the supervision of Lloyd DeWitt, Ph.D., Chief Curator and Irene Leache Curator of European Art, I undertook object and provenance research for several works in the permanent collection, and in so doing, traced the stories and histories of ownership that preceded their acquisition by the Chrysler. The objects included a Persian stone relief derived from the celebrated site of Persepolis, acquired by a German-Jewish scholar of Persian literature, and transported to the U.S. by his expatriate son during the Holocaust; a Sumerian clay tablet inscribed with the first known form of writing; and a beautifully carved granite portrait of a Babylonian bearded prince. Each of these objects are tangible documents of craftsmanship, cultural exchange, and the collecting practices that led them to the Chrysler’s permanent collection. They also provide opportunities to ask challenging questions about where they come from, how and why they are here, and more broadly, interrogate the Eurocentric impulses that lie at the root of art history. Such questions are of crucial importance to my future graduate studies, as it becomes increasingly urgent to reassess the discipline and envision a more socially inclusive and culturally expansive field.

Another notable project that significantly marked my time at the Chrysler concerned an upcoming exhibition, FloodZone: Photographs by Anastasia Samoylova, slated for December 2021. Samoylova’s photographs present a visual archive of the impacts of sea-level rise and climate change along South Florida’s threatened coast, supplanting the shock of climate disaster photojournalism with a probing analysis into the psychological state induced by life in a sinking landscape. As a Hampton Roads native and witness to the effects of coastal storms, tidal flooding, and sea-level rise, I connected with the undertones of foreboding in Samoylova’s images. Yet I also felt profoundly moved by her ability to sound the alarm in unexpected and often hauntingly beautiful ways. While writing interpretive texts and object labels for her photographic series, I realized my inclination, as an art history student, to bury visual evidence in historical and contextual information. Working with Seth Feman, Ph.D., deputy director of art and interpretation and curator of photography, I aimed to anchor my writing in the most salient aspects of the photographs, further developing the visual literacy and close looking skills essential to curatorial practice. Moreover, because Samoylova frequently acknowledges her historical influences and artistic predecessors, I culled objects from the Museum’s collection that contextualize her photographs and the stories they tell—works by iconic artists such as Walker Evans, William Eggleston, and Ansel Adams, and images of the 1910 Great Flood of Paris. I, thus, noticed firsthand how exhibition preparation and organization move in tandem with research and stewardship of the permanent collection.

These snapshots of my internship experience are not comprehensive; there were many other compelling projects and tasks that peppered my brief but fruitful stretch at the Chrysler. Nor do they begin to cover the deeply impactful cohort, department, and Museum-wide meetings that offered glimpses into the inner workings of the Museum. Such cross-departmental conversations thread varied perspectives and voices in and through the fabric of the institution, creating a diverse and inclusive space in which all ideas are valued and heard. Thus, circling back to my shifting perspectives of art museums, they no longer waver in my mind between conduits for either aesthetic immersion, cultural preservation, or civic dialogue. As I move closer toward my upcoming graduate course in art, film, and activism at the Courtauld Institute of Art and continue my sustained pursuit of a professional career in curatorial work, I carry with me the meaningful lessons I learned at the Chrysler about the crucial role museums play in the stewardship, interpretation, and activation of art.

From the Collection