Beginning February 17, 2018, the James A. Michener Art Museum
will present Virtually Rudy: New Dimensions in Sculpture, an innovative sculpture exhibition that joins 20th century art with 21st century technology. Nine sculptures by artist Charles Rudy (1904-1986) will be on display alongside three-dimensional representations made possible through a partnership with the Google Cultural Institute. Through Google Cardboard viewers, visitors will be able to explore the sculptures in virtual-reality mode. The exhibition will be on view through April 8, 2018.
"This is a first-of-a-kind show--not only for the Michener, but for many art museums in the United States," said Adrienne Neszmelyi-Romano, director of interpretation and innovation, who co-curated the exhibition with assistant curator Louise Feder. "We are very proud that our museum, which has long been committed to showcasing the work of important regional artists, is also at the forefront of technology, and is taking a leading role in understanding how technology can enhance the visitor experience."
The Michener was the first institution on the East Coast to partner with the Google Cultural Institute 3D Operations team to digitize objects from its permanent collection, making 26 objects--including 15 of Rudy's sculptures--accessible in 3D in 2015 to a global audience. Virtually Rudy pairs the tangible with the intangible, presenting scan and sculpture side by side for the first time.
A graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Charles Rudy achieved national status as a sculptor for his work on public buildings across the country as well as for his prize-winning sculptures. His most notable commissions include the Noah on the Bronx post office in New York and the Sun Seaman's Memorial in Delaware. In 1936, Rudy and his wife purchased a 70-acre farm in Ottsville, Pennsylvania, where he located his studio. His sculptures of farm animals, several of which are featured in this exhibition, are said to have been inspired by his time spent on his farm. A 1942 Guggenheim fellow, Rudy taught as the head of Cooper Union's sculpture department for ten years. He also held teaching positions at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Art, Michigan State College, and Philadelphia Museum School of Art.
Through a partnership with the Perkiomen School in Pennsburg, PA, 3D-printed reproductions of Rudy's sculptures will be available for visitors to handle, and live demonstrations of the 3D printing process will take place during visiting hours. The 3D printer and the models will be provided by the school's Entrepreneur Institute, the students of its additive manufacturing class, and the Perk Tech Hub. Throughout the exhibition, museum visitors can register to win 3D-printed models of the sculptures through periodic drawings.