Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has an extensive collection of ceramics from around the world. I’m just beginning to explore its collection online. The museum seems to have an extensive collection of ancient ceramic vessels from Central and South American cultures.

Skull-Shaped Censer, Mexico, Mixtec-Puebla, 1400–1521, Slip-painted ceramic. http://www.lacma.org

As a first pass, I used the museum’s collection search tool to explore some Islamic ceramics, several of which are embedded in this article.

Plate, Iran or Central Asia, 14th century, Fritware, underglaze-painted. http://www.lacma.org
Goblet, Iran, 14th century, Fritware, pierced and underglaze-painted. http://www.lacma.org

Note: when using the search tool, specific words can make a big difference, so play around a bit. I searched for “pottery; Peru” and got 2 results. Then I searched for “ceramic; Peru” and got 104 results. Generally, “ceramic” tends to yield more results than “pottery” from my quick testing (e.g., “ceramic; united states” gives you 483 results, “pottery; united states” gives you 135 results (filtered for results with images)).

Once you find a general area of interest, scroll through the images and then refine your search. For example, I tried a few general search terms (e.g., “ceramic; united states”) and then switched to use more precise searches (e.g., “dedham pottery”).

Bowl with epigraphic and vegetal decoration, Iran, Nishapur or Uzbekistan, Samarqand, 10th century, Earthenware with white slip covering and decoration in pigments under a transparent glaze. http://www.lacma.org
Tile, Iraq, Baghdad, mid-13th century, Brick. http://www.lacma.org

On a separate note, LACMA has teamed up with California State University to offer internship opportunities to students interested in items in the museum’s collection. In the Fall of 2020, two archaeology students completed internships and wrote articles about ceramic pieces in the LACMA collection.

Katherine Gendron, student at CSU-Dominguez Hills, completed a project entitled “Art of the Ancient Ones – A look at Hohokam Pottery at LACMA.” Katherine’s online exhibition dives into the history of Hohokam pottery and provides excellent visual examples of several ceramic vessels. Katherine also provides a search link into LACMA’s Hohokam pottery collection.

Fernanda Hernandez wrote an article on the Museum’s Unframed online magazine entitled “Examining Tlatilco Figurines” where she describes her internship experiences using photogrammetry technology in a museum setting.

Both students used 3D visualization techniques to highlight a piece of pottery. Katherine’s 3D model depicts a West Mexican ballcourt scene, produced in Nayarit, Mexico around 200 BCE – 500 CE.

Fernanda’s 3D model is of a “Dog Lady” figurine. Both students posted their 3D models on SketchFab, an online hosting platform I described in an earlier post.

I like that the LACMA is engaging students as interns to research, explore and “distribute” information and visualizations of ceramics in the museum’s collection. It’s especially heartening to see the LACMA do this during the Covid pandemic. Bravo!

Storage jar, Syria, 12th century, Fritware, glazed turquoise. http://www.lacma.org

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