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Monday, 07 April 2014 11:11

To Sense Amber through Artistic Expression

Written by  Kazimieras Mizgiris

The owners of the Amber Gallery-Museums, Virginija and Kazimieras Mizgiris, were looking for new artistic solutions and got the idea to redevelop one of the museum halls to create a new exhibition, in which visitors can feel the amber through artistic expression.

This new exhibition is an extension of that in the Amber Gallery-Museum outdoor space, in Nida. The Amber Route is represented by artistic means not in a closed room but extends in the open air for about 100 metres. After looking at this exhibition visitors can learn not only about old amber processing tools, admire a collection of inclusions and see Juodkrantė's treasure, but also have a look at the “blue earth”, which contains large deposits of amber, to open an “amber-tree” trunk to understand how amber formed 50 million years ago and to hear the legend of Jūratė and Kąstytis – the myth of how amber formed narrated by the waves. In order to supplement this information, an idea emerged to create an exhibition where visitors can learn about the physical and therapeutic properties of amber by touching, smelling and tasting.

The new exhibition opened in the spring of 2013. It is highly original because amber is not just placed there so the visitors can touch it, but everything is presented through artistic expressions, with several senses involved at once. In terms of the emotions evoked by viewing the artists’ works, surprise and wonder help make amber more attractive to the visitors because each time they have to lendiscover these works by opening small doors like coming through a mysterious fog. A visitor looking at the work that depicts the amber healing effect on people with throat problems, as if himself feels how the wearable amber necklace spreads its healing properties like the metal threads in the artist work. This composition, where amber as if smoulders and gives the feeling that one will smell the resin, presents healing otitis with amber in an original way. Amber’s feature to spread an odour of resin when burnt is presented in not in the usual way, where a piece of amber is ignited, but by an original artwork, in which the burning amber flame is made of yellow amber and invites the visitor to come closer to smell the scent of amber.

By the opening of another door a visitor can see an unpolished and seemingly unreachable piece of amber in the stall, but the hole in it invites the visitor to put their hand inside, to touch the amber lurking there and to feel its warmth. Perhaps only the bravest dare to put their hand into the dark cavity without any urging. After timid tries and hesitations, the fingers feel tiny pieces of amber, the same that can be gathered on the seashore. Anyone who has gathered not only amber, but also nice Peebles has probably noticed that a piece of amber weighs about half of that of a stone of the same size. Thus, the exhibit behind other door reminds the well known truth: the scales, where on the one side is placed a stone and on the other lays twice bigger piece of amber, are even. Of course more than once more than one question was asked: why one piece of amber is transparent, and the other is red? Maybe a person was able to find a piece of black amber: is it really amber, and, if yes, then how many colours does Baltic amber have? This question is answered by the rotating wheel, representing wide range of colours, which is targeted to portray the original 7 major amber colour samples.

Doubts about the authenticity of amber can be removed by one of the many tests to identify real amber: in this case salt water test, in which real amber floats. In one of the parts of the exposure it is possible for visitors to do this experiment: to take a piece of amber or its falsification, and to try to decide on its authenticity themselves. Certainly interesting and maybe not everybody knows about amber ability to magnify. There is evidence that almost colourless transparent amber was used in the manufacture of optical products. The lenses and glasses were produced of amber, and in the 18th century scientists even claimed that the amber optics is of higher quality than the glass. It is possible to try yourself by using a loupe made of amber and trying to read the note.

Amber is also a good conductor. Since ancient times it is known its quality to obtain negative charge. Visitors of this new exhibition have a unique opportunity to see how works the machine producing amber energy. All these sensory properties of amber are crowned by the best opportunity to taste the amber beverage. 

The idea to learn the main therapeutic and physical amber features through artistic expressions has been implemented in support of sculptor Nerijus Erminas and architect-designer Ieva Krištopavičiūtė. It is expected that this new project will give people not only comprehensive knowledge, but also a sensual impression of amber by new artistic means faster, more forcefully and vividly.

Source: Amber news review 2013, World Amber Council