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Celebrating 25 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act

12The Museum opens its doors to people from our community and beyond to explore thousands of years of art and culture from around the world. Every day, staff works hard to ensure that our building, artworks, programs, and publications are accessible to visitors of all abilities.

This spring, the Museum is working with organizations around Birmingham to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). This landmark legislation prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunities for people with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation.

Several programs in May draw attention to accessibility at the Museum. On Saturday, May 9, explore the achievements of artists with disabilities such as Claude Monet, Dale Chihuly, and Josiah Wedgwood during one of two free tours. The 10am tour is geared towards adults with visual impairments, and the 1pm tour is open to the general public. The tour for adults with visual impairments will be repeated on Wednesday, May 27 at 1pm. For more information, please call 205.254.2070.

On Tuesday, May 19 at 12 noon, join Terry Beckham, Exhibitions Designer, and Kristi McMillan, Assistant Curator of Education for Visitor Engagement, for Accessibility for All at the BMA. This ArtBreak considers how we use universal design and other strategies to foster a welcoming and inclusive museum environment.

Also that day, the ADA Legacy Project is visiting Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park. As it nears the end of its year-long tour of the country, the ADA Bus brings interactive exhibits that explore the history of self-advocacy, as well as the ADA Legacy Project and its mission to preserve the history of the disability rights movement, to celebrate milestones, and to educate the public and future generations of advocates. There will also be a booth where people can post thoughts and photos that capture how the ADA has made a difference to their lives, an ADA quilt, and more. The Museum joins other local non-profits, service agencies, and disability resource groups at the park from 11am to 4pm.

For more information about local events that celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ADA, please click here.

Spotlight on the Collection

May 2015: Moon Jar


Jar (Dal Hang-ari). Korean, Joseon period (1392-1910), about 1700. Porcelain, Bunwon-ri ware. 14 1/2 × 14 inches. Museum purchase with funds provided by the Estate of Carolyn Quinn, 2002.4.

Jar (Dal Hang-ari), Korean, about 1700

Since the 10th century, Korean artists have produced white porcelain. After a long demand for celadon (pale green) ceramics, white porcelain gained popularity in the 15th and 16th centuries. The bureau (Bunwon) that oversaw the meals and court banquets of the royal family strictly controlled the kilns that produced white porcelain, employing only the finest clays and glazes for wares used to hold and serve food to the king and his court. Scholar Yi Kyu-gyong (1788-1856) once observed, “The greatest merit of white porcelain lies in its absolute purity.”

Wealthy consumers – usually royalty or nobility – prized large “moon jars” the most. The milky color and round shape have meanings on many levels. Koreans consider the full moon – with its soft glow that lights the way at night – as a gentle spirit, while white evokes the Confucian virtues of purity and modesty. Joseon-era Koreans were deeply devoted to Confucianism.

Ceramicists often created the tops and bottoms of moon jars separately, joining the two hemispherical halves at the center. This process often resulted in slight variations in shape and thickness, creating a distinctive final silhouette. Koreans understood this asymmetry not as a defect but as an expression of the imperfection of nature – indeed, the moon itself is not perfectly round.

Moon jars may originally have been used for storing food or displaying flowers.

See more!

Look for moon jars similar to the BMA’s at these museums.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

British Museum, London

Read more!

Check out these resources in the Museum’s Hanson Library.

Moon Jars: The Splendor of Joseon Porcelain. Seoul: National Palace Museum of Korea, 2005.

National Museum of Korea. Seoul: Sol Publishing, 2005.


Contemporary Korean artists continue to be inspired by the simplicity and purity of moon jars, and continue to make them with a modern twist. Watch this video to learn more.

Rick Lowe

Social and Community Engaged Art: The Genuine and the Artificial

Mobile Tours

David Puxley smartguide feature

3100.2008_01b_p01W_PortraitThe Museum recently added a new stop to its smartguide in conjunction with the opening of David Puxley: Wedgwood’s First Studio Potter. The David Puxley smartguide feature, available for FREE here, complements any visit to the exhibition.

The David Puxley smartguide feature includes:

  • An essay about Wedgwood, David Puxley’s tenure there as studio-potter-and-residence, and the Museum’s Buten Wedgwood Collection by Dr. Anne Forschler-Tarrasch, the Museum’s Senior Curator and Curator of Decorative Arts
  • Audio commentary from ceramics artist David Puxley about his influences, studio work at Wedgwood, the Wedgwood artist/designer program, his working method, and more
  • High-resolution images for selected works in the exhibition
  • A narrated slideshow feature all 150 works by David Puxley in the Museum’s collection
  • Related works in the Museum

The David Puxley smartguide feature, accessed for FREE here, is optimized for tablets, smartphones, and other web-enabled devices. Visitors without their own devices may check out an iPad for FREE from the Museum; FREE WiFi is also available throughout the Museum. Headphones are also available in the Museum Store for visitors who would like to access audio content in the exhibition.

Using your web-enabled smart device, click here to get started.

Mystery Object

Spring-Fall 2015: Eye Wash

Mystery Object 4These small ceramic objects, called eye baths, were used as early as the 16th century as personal-cleansing aids and are still used today. In these cups, people mixed saline or boric acid with water, placed the cup with solution over the eye, and blinked several times to wash out road dust or other irritants. Eye baths came in a variety of materials in addition to ceramic, such as wood, gold, silver, and occasionally ivory.

These eye baths are some of the rarer objects in the Museum’s Wedgwood collection. Josiah Wedgwood began producing eye baths in the 1770s, probably influenced by his friend and personal physician, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, whose writings on human relationships placed great importance on the role of eyes. Two of these mid-19th century eye baths feature transfer-printed decoration of birds and cabbage roses, while the other two are of unadorned creamware.


New Exhibition Dedicated To Baseball

Black Diamond, Radcliffe Bailey, 2007

Black Diamond, Radcliffe Bailey, 2007

In celebration of the start of the Birmingham Baron’s season, the Museum opens a small exhibition of works dedicated to the sport of baseball. Out with the Crowd features 14 photographs by David Levinthal, and one large-scale, mixed-media piece by Radcliffe Bailey.

The photographs are selections from Levinthal’s series, Baseball. These images depict legendary moments in baseball history, recreated using antique and recently manufactured figurines of celebrated baseball players including Willie Mays, Yogi Berra, Babe Ruth, and Hank Aaron.

Bailey’s work, Black Diamond, represents the role baseball played in the Civil Rights Movement. The hanging sculpture was made using military blankets, wool, and wood; and fills an entire gallery wall. The work is a recent gift to the Museum’s collection by the Aardt Foundation in honor of the Mayor of the City of Birmingham, William A. Bell, Sr.

On the subject of his work, Bailey once remarked, “When I think of baseball, I see that people play it for the love of the game, for their family, their communities, to transform their world. So baseball for me, is a metaphor that stands for all these things.”

Out with the Crowd is free admission and will be open through May 17. Play Ball!