It’s a Library… it’s a Lyceum, it’s a Museum!
As a disclaimer: These photos were taken during a visit in February/March 2016, so this post may not be representative of this site today.
The beginnings of the Brooklyn Museum can be traced to the founding of the Brooklyn Apprentices’ Library in Brooklyn Heights by Augustus Graham in 1823.
In 1841, the Library moved to the Brooklyn Lyceum building, and two years later the Library and the Lyceum merged into the Brooklyn Institute. In 1890, under Franklin Hooper, its leaders began to plan to turn this into the Brooklyn Museum, which finally became an independent institution in 1970s.
The original design was for a much larger building (4x) than what eventually was completed in 1927. The principal designer of the building’s pediment sculptures was Daniel Chester French (you may remember him as the sculptor responsible for the Lincoln Memorial sculpture). The Piccirilli Brothers, who also worked on the Lincoln Memorial as well as on the New York Public Library lions, were responsible for their carving.
The museum seeks to cover world cultures with its collections, and is well known for its collections of Egyptian and other African art.
Received as a gift from The Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation in 2002, The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago began its permanent exhibition in 2007.
It consists of 39 elaborate place settings for 39 mythical and historical famous women. Each plate includes a hand-painted ceramic plate, cutlery, a chalice, and an embroidered placemat. The work was created from 1974-1979 as a collaboration with volunteers, and was first exhibited in 1979. It toured 16 venues in six countries, on three continents.
Set as a triangle, the first side honors women from Prehistory to the Roman Empire, the second from the beginnings of Christianity to the Reformation, and the third from the American Revolution to the Women’s Revolution.
Ishtar – Mesopotamian goddess of love, war, beauty, sex, justice, and political power.
Kali – Hindu goddess who rules over death, time, and change.
Snake Goddess – Minoan figure believed by some to relate to Paleolithic traditions regarding women and domesticity.
Hatshepsut – Fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt, and the second historically confirmed female pharaoh.
Judith – Jewish biblical figure who uses her beauty and charm to murder an Assyrian general and save Israel (I’ve spoken about her before here).
Hypatia – Neoplatonist philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician from Alexandria, Egypt.
Theodora – Byzantine empress who served as advisor to her husband, Emperor Justinian, both now saints in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Eleanor of Aquitaine – Duchess of Aquitaine and later Queen of France from 1137-1152 and Queen of England from 1154-1189.
Isabella d’Este – Marchioness of Mantua, and a major political and cultural figure during the Italian Renaissance.
Elizabeth I – Queen of England and Ireland in the latter half of the 16th century, last ruler of the House of Tudor.
Artemisia Gentileschi – Italian Baroque painter, first woman to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence.
Sacajawea – A Lehmi Shoshone woman who helped the Lewis and Clark Expedition to explore the Louisiana Territory.
Emily Dickinson – American poet, little known during her life, but today considered one of the most important figures in American poetry.
Georgia O’Keefe – American modernist artist, known for her paintings of large flowers and New Mexico landscapes.
The museum’s Egyptian collection is composed of artefacts donated by private individuals, such as Egyptologist Charles Edwin Wilbour, as well as objects obtained during museum-sponsored archeological expeditions.