An unusual bit of art has been given to the C.W. Parker Carousel Museum, and the museum’s director is trying to figure out what to do with it.
About four years ago, two long pieces of canvas art were donated to the museum by Barbara Fah Charles, a museum history collector who lives in Washington, D.C.
Since then, the art has been rolled up and kept in a storage room at the museum.
“I don’t know what to do with them,” said Jerry Reinhardt, director of the museum. “I don’t have a place for them.”
That’s because of the size of the canvases. One of them measures 204 feet long. The other measures about 90 feet long. They each are about 30 inches wide.
Reinhardt said the canvases are believed to have been painted by the same unknown artist in the 1880s, possibly in Kansas City, Missouri. He said the artist did not sign either canvas.
The canvases each depict a continuous panel of exotic nature scenes.
Reinhardt has named one canvas panel “Creation” because it depicts boiling seas, volcanoes, dinosaurs and finally two little people dressed in animal skin clothes standing in front of a cave.
He named the other “Marco Polo” because it depicts a continuous panel of tropical scenes along a river, possibly the Nile River.
“It’s like a travelogue,” he said.
Reinhardt said the canvas art is a predecessor of silent movies. He said the canvases were mounted on two spindles that moved the art. He said carnivals of the day would hold canvas art shows in tents.
Because of the size of the art pieces, Reinhardt said he has no room to mount them on the walls of the museum. Instead, he has begun a process of videotaping the art to display it at the museum.
He said the project will result in the art being seen much in the same way as it was in the late 19th century – only on video.