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Wonder-ful accolades for Boxwood

May 23rd, 2017

South Netherlandish. Prayer Bead: St. James the Greater (closed), 1490 – 1530. Boxwood. Overall height x width: 5.7 × 4.8 cm (2 1/4 × 1 7/8 in.). The Cleveland Museum of Art, Purchase from the J.H. Wade Fund, 1961.87. Courtesy of the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Did you catch our Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures exhibition last year? Blending cutting-edge technology with ground-breaking historical art research, the exhibition astounded and amazed visitors with its tiny, mesmerizing carvings from the early 1500s. It also made its mark with some of our peers, earning the exhibition three awards to date!

The exhibition was primarily brought together by two AGO staff members: Sasha Suda, Curator of European Art & R. Fraser Elliott Chair, Print & Drawing Council, and Lisa Ellis, Conservator of Sculpture and Decorative Arts. They’ve been blown away by the response to the exhibition, which is currently on view at The Met Cloisters in New York before it travels to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Here’s a taste of the accolades the exhibition has been receiving:

South Netherlandish. Rosary, 1509 – 1526.
Overall (length, diameter): 472mm × 57mm (47.2 × 5.7 cm). Overall (diameter of ave bead): 38mm (3.8 cm). Devonshire Collection, Chatsworth. Reproduced by permission of Chatsworth Settlement Trustees. Photo: Craig Boyko/Ian Lefebvre © Art Gallery of Ontario, 2016.

American Alliance of Museums
Media & Technology MUSE Award – Games and Augmented Reality

Through Small Wonders: The VR Experience, AGO visitors had the ability to travel inside blown-up and blown apart late Medieval artwork – thanks to micro-CT scanners and virtual reality technology! This marked a virtual reality first at the AGO and gave us the American Alliance of Museum’s Muse Award for Games and Augmented Reality.

Association of Art Museum Curators
Award of Excellence: Digital Publication

Along with the exhibition, an online publication called The Boxwood Project was developed to provide an in-depth look at the research that went into these miraculous objects. The AGO was the first-ever winner in this brand new category.

Canadian Museums Association
Award of Outstanding Achievement: Conservation

In order to answer the question of how the gothic boxwood miniatures were made, the AGO turned to a micro-CT scanner with a resolution so fine that it could distinguish details as small as 36 micrometres – or about the third of the diameter of a human hair!  This scanner kept the artwork safe but also was able to expose hidden joints, pegs and adhesive that had never been seen before. This was the first time the AGO has been awarded the CMA award for conservation.

We asked Lisa Ellis for her reaction to all of this. “I’m so proud of the Small Wonders team, the AGO and our partners: Priam Givord, Canadian Film Centre’s Media Lab and Seneca College’s School of Creative Arts and Animation,” she said. “The depth of the Thomson Collection at the AGO combined with innovative technology really resonated with our visitors!”

Did you miss out on Boxwood? You can still view these delicate masterpieces here or in your very own catalogue!

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Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures Supporters:

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