Westmoreland Museum of American Art Born of Fire: The Valley of Work Exhibition

The Westmoreland Museum of American Art’s Born of Fire: The Valley of Work exhibition is part of Feuerländer: Regions of Vulcan, a large-scale international exhibition, to be presented at the LVR-Industriemuseum in Oberhausen, Germany open through Nov. 28, 2010, as part of the Ruhr Region’s designation as the 2010 European Capital of Culture.

Feuerländer: Regions of Vulcan comprises nearly 200 works of art illustrating the development of the mining, iron and steel industries in Europe and the United States from around 1780 to the present. Barbara L. Jones, Chief Curator at The Westmoreland, will travel to Germany to participate in the opening festivities of the exhibition and will write about her experiences on the Building a Transatlantic Bridge blog at buildingatransatlanticbridge.blogspot.com. Born of Fire’s appearance in Feuerländer and Barbara Jones’ trip to Oberhausen are supported by a grant from the Terra Foundation for American Art.

In addition to The Westmoreland and LVR-Industriemuseum, Feuerländer partners include: Confederation of German Trade Unions; Écomusée de la Communauté Le Creusot Montceau, France; Ironbridge Gorge Museum, Coalbrookdale, England; Parco Geominerario Storico e Ambintale della Sardegna, Italy; Muzeum Górnictwa Węglowego, Zabrze, Poland; and Museu de la Ciència i de la Tècnica de Catalunya, Terrassa, Spain. Over the last several years, The Westmoreland traveled Born of Fire to Oberhausen and Chemnitz, Germany; and Zabrze, Poland. For more information, visit www.feuerlaender.lvr.de/englversion/index.html.

About The Westmoreland / LVR-Industriemuseum Partnership
The Westmoreland began its partnership with the LVR-Industriemuseum when they hosted the exhibition Born of Fire: The Valley of Work in 2007. This traveling exhibition contained 60 works from The Westmoreland’s scenes of industry collection and while on view in Oberhausen, The Westmoreland’s exhibition was surrounded by thirty works from the LVR-Industriemuseum art collection. The similarities between the artwork of both regions were astonishing. The LVR worked with The Westmoreland to travel the exhibition to Chemnitz, Germany and Zabrze, Poland. The partnership continued in the fall of 2008, when the LVR’s exhibition From the Ruhr Valley to the Steel City came to The Westmoreland. Exhibiting each other’s work created a strong alliance between the museums. Feuerländer: Regions of Vulcan is the culmination of this unique collaboration and also prompted the two museums to bring together students from their regions through a project called Building a Transatlantic Bridge.

About Building a Transatlantic Bridge
Created by The Westmoreland and LVR-Industriemuseum, Building a Transatlantic Bridge is a dynamic partnership connecting students from these two regions using technology with a focus on the art and industrial heritage of the regions of Pittsburgh and the Ruhr Valley. This project, which is funded by the American Association of Museums and the U.S. Department of State, is providing opportunities for collaboration and interaction between high school students and teachers in the Greensburg Salem School District and in three schools in Oberhausen, Germany: Heinrich-Böll-Gesamtschule, Gymnasium Gustav-Heinemann-Schulzentrum, and Freiherr-vom Stein-Gymnasium. Through this project, the teachers and students are creating lasting bonds and cultural understanding of each region by using technology with a focus on the art, music and industrial heritage of the Pittsburgh and Ruhr Valley regions. A blog was created to showcase the two regions, the students’ projects and collaborations, and the visitors from each country. The blog, which includes links to the museums, schools, and other relevant sites, can be viewed at buildingatransatlanticbridge.blogspot.com.

About Born of Fire: The Valley of Work
The Westmoreland developed the Born of Fire: The Valley of Work exhibition as a means to highlight the important industrial, historical and cultural contributions of the greater Pittsburgh region during the height of the Big Steel Era in the United States. The Born of Fire collection features paintings and works on paper depicting images that express the immense energy, power, wonder and force of the vast industrial complex that took shape in the mid-nineteenth through the early twentieth-century, a time when Pittsburgh became the nation’s foremost center of iron making and mass-produced steel. In conjunction with the works of art, The Westmoreland produced the following to accompany the exhibition:

Born of Fire: The Valley of Work is a book of The Westmoreland’s complete scenes of industry collection written by Curator Barbara L. Jones, and including the history of Big Steel by professors Edward Muller (University of Pittsburgh) and Joel Tarr (Carnegie Mellon University).

Born of Fire: Songs of Steel and Industry is a music compact disc by an eclectic southwestern Pennsylvania folk group called the NewLanders. The group researched he songs of the Big Steel Era and updated them for today’s audiences.

Born of Fire: How Pittsburgh Built a Nation, a 60-minute documentary film co-produced by The Westmoreland and award-winning producer Bill Mosher, features visits to operating steel mills, views of the southwestern Pennsylvania region, interviews with historians, art historians and former steelworkers, the works of art and galleries of The Westmoreland, and the NewLanders in the studio.

Portions of Born of Fire are always on view in the Barclay Gallery at The Westmoreland. For more information or purchase any of the products, visit the exhibition website at www.bornoffire.org.

About LVR-Industriemuseum
Much like Pittsburgh and its surrounding regions, Oberhausen is located in Germany’s Ruhr Valley, which is renowned for industry. The people who worked in the mills shaped both regions’ culture and history, and the remnants of the workers’ pasts are still visible in the landscape today. The LVR-Industriemuseum opened in 1997 under the title Rheinisches Industriemuseum / RIM (Rhineland Industrial Museum), but changed its name to the LVR-Industriemuseum in September 2008. It stands on the former Altenberg zinc factory site and focuses on the history and preservation of the textile, metal, paper and electricity industries of the Ruhr Valley. In addition to the Altenburg zinc factory site, the museum comprises five other former industrial sites of the region including two textile mills, a scissor factory, cotton factory, and paper mill.

About the Westmoreland Museum of American Art
The mission of the Westmoreland Museum of American Art is to enrich a growing public through innovative and collaborative approaches to the collection, preservation and presentation of American art.

Summer Museum hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11 AM to 5 PM, Thursday until 9 PM and Friday until 6:30 PM. Museum admission is a $5 suggested donation for adults, children under 12 and students with valid ID are free. Guided tours can be arranged by calling 724/837-1500 ext. 10. An American Marketplace – The Shop at The Westmoreland carries books on American art, posters and notecards, children’s books and activities, unique giftware, jewelry and features a coffee bar. For directions to The Westmoreland or other information, the public should call 724/837-1500 or visit our web site at www.wmuseumaa.org. The Westmoreland is located at 221 North Main Street, Greensburg, Pennsylvania, about 35 miles east of Pittsburgh.


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