American Decorative Arts
Gallery Talk by Yale University
Art Gallery Curator Patricia Kane 

April 24, 2014

Rachel Rogol, 413-542-2295


Amherst, MA - The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College is pleased to announce the upcoming "Closer Look" gallery talk by Patricia Kane, the Friends of American Arts Curator of American Decorative Arts at Yale University Art Gallery, on Friday, May 2, at 4:30 p.m. Kane will speak about selected Mead masterpieces of early American furniture and silver. Her talk and the reception that follows are free and open to the public.


Kane has been a curator at the Yale University Art Gallery since 1968. A prominent scholar in the field of New England silver and furniture, Kane is perhaps best known for two landmark reference works: the biographical dictionary Colonial Massachusetts Silversmiths and Jewelers (1998), and The Rhode Island Furniture Archive, a website cataloguing furniture made in Rhode Island from 1636 through the 19th century.


Bradley Bailey, the Mead's postdoctoral curatorial teaching fellow in Japanese prints, worked on The Rhode Island Furniture Archive under Kane's leadership. "Pat is renowned for her archival methods and comprehensive efforts," Bailey said. "The Rhode Island Archive has become the industry standard not only for everything related to Rhode Island furniture - which itself is a gold standard of early American decorative arts - but for excellence in scholarship in the field."


At Yale Kane guided the design of the Gallery's American Arts wing, which houses a collection that ranges from the 17th century to today. She has been active in the leadership of many historical and decorative arts organizations, including the Decorative Arts Society, the Connecticut Historical Society, and Historic Deerfield. In recognition of her dedication and contribution to American arts, Kane received the Wunsch American Foundation's award in 2013.


A native of Connecticut, Kane developed an early interest in history and the arts. When she was growing up, she said, the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford was "a favorite family outing." She was especially drawn to stories and relics of the past, although her parents, she said, "found my fascination with old stuff a little hard to comprehend." During her college years, she spent three summers working at the Connecticut Historical Society, and after graduation she headed to the University of Delaware Winterthur Program in Early American Culture. Kane arrived at Yale with a master's degree from Winterthur, and earned a PhD from Yale in 1987.


Kane's gallery talk will focus on objects from the Mead's American decorative arts collection, including its best examples of 18th-century Rhode Island furniture: a pair of mahogany side chairs made by the Providence firm of John Carlile and Sons (ca. 1790). The museum also currently has on view a mahogany-and-cedar desk and bookcase attributed to the Massachusetts workshop of Nathaniel Gould (ca. 1780); a clock made by Major John Dunlap and Nathaniel Mulliken in New Hampshire (ca. 1780); and a silver goblet and sugar urn (ca. 1790-95) made in Boston by Paul Revere.

The Mead Art Museum houses the art collection of Amherst College, spanning 5,000 years and encompassing the creative achievements of many world cultures. An accredited member of the American Association of Museums, the Mead participates in Museums10, a regional cultural collaboration. The museum and its gift shop-café are open year-round Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. The museum offers extended hours during the academic term, staying open until midnight on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday.  

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