The Nine-Ton Cat: Behind the Scenes at an Art Museum

Overview

It's never an ordinary day for art. Hanging on the wall of a large museum like the National Gallery in Washington, a painting cannot know what to expect. One day you might be a famous portrait by Leonardo da Vinci, comfortable in a glass case with admirers all around, and the next you might be carted away for a bath. In a museum, the staff is busy night and day. Guards patrol around the clock to make sure that each work of art is safely in its place. During the day, staff members study works of art, move them ...

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Overview

It's never an ordinary day for art. Hanging on the wall of a large museum like the National Gallery in Washington, a painting cannot know what to expect. One day you might be a famous portrait by Leonardo da Vinci, comfortable in a glass case with admirers all around, and the next you might be carted away for a bath. In a museum, the staff is busy night and day. Guards patrol around the clock to make sure that each work of art is safely in its place. During the day, staff members study works of art, move them from one place to another, and plan shows of paintings and sculpture from around the world. The Nine-Ton Cat takes you along on a day's journey inside the National Gallery, from dawn to dusk, revealing everything from why a museum needs eight hundred keys to how to hoist a nine-ton cat.

A behind-the-scenes look at the National Gallery of Art including its private spaces, workshops, offices, and labs where visitors rarely enter.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This intriguing look at the intricacies of an art museum delivers dozens of fascinating facts about the hidden world. . . . With its conversational tone and attention to details, this book not only celebrates the museum but also invites those who love art to consider related occuaptions." Horn Book, Starred
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Whether you are an art lover or not, Thomson's visit behind the scenes at an art museum is a trip you don't want to miss. She tells about the ordinary details of keeping an immense building such as the National Gallery of Art clean, well lit, and in tip top shape for the thousands of daily visitors. Readers also learn about the amount of work and time it takes to mount an exhibit, and the care that is taken to hide brackets and other devices so they will not detract from viewing the art object. All of the behind the scenes revelations are accompanied by full-color photographs of the building, art objects, and people hard at work. A wonderful book to read before any museum or art gallery excursion and a perfect choice if Washington, D.C. is on the agenda.
Children's Literature - Beverly Kobrin
Peggy Thomson and Barbara Moore take readers through the "Staff Only" doors of Washington D.C.'s National Gallery of Art for a vivid view of the curators, conservators, carpenters, and others who manage, maintain, and mount exhibits. Handlers and forklift operators who "very, very slowly," maneuver into place The Nine-Ton Cat, a stone-carved Aztec jaguar, for example, and a gilder, who deftly touches sable-hair brush to hairline for static electricity and oil to attract and hold gold leaf.
School Library Journal
Gr 6 UpA fascinating glimpse at the people and processes that make an art museum tick. Thomson uses the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, to frame her narrative, starting at 6:00 a.m. when the gallery buzzes with horticulturists hosing down trees, "lampers" replacing 30-foot high light bulbs, and specialists scrubbing sculpture. Ensuing chapters describe in detail the work of curators, conservators, guards, educators, designers, librarians, and other staff. The author skillfully blends tidbits of trivia with child appeal e.g., the stairs in the East Building "are designed to vacuum-clean the shoes of visitors" with in-depth information, such as how a conservator uses infrared photography to restore a da Vinci. The book design mirrors this approach, alternating a series of small photographs depicting the installation of a 15-ton bronze sculpture with full-page color and black-and-white scenes of a sea of guards or the interior of a design studio. Explanations of technical vocabulary are incorporated seamlessly into the text and most of the photos have informative captions. While many of the explanations would apply to any major museum, the book begs to be used in conjunction with a field trip to Washington. Thomson creates the same excitement about the National Gallery that Joy Richardson evoked for the Metropolitan in Inside the Museum Abrams, 1993.Wendy Lukehart, Dauphin County Library, Harrisburg, PA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395826836
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 3/31/1997
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 96
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.48 (h) x 0.39 (d)

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