The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Time running out to see museum’s tile exhibit

History unfolds in the Meadows Museum. For a brief period of time, students, faculty and people from all over Dallas have the privilege of seeing a timeless collection of tiles from Valenica, Spain, right on the SMU campus.

“‘Tiles from Valencia: From the Middle Ages through the Early 20th Century’ is an exceptional collection and resource,” assistant curator Amanda Dotseth said. “To have this quality of art on campus is incredible.”

The exhibit showcases Valencia’s unrivaled workmanship and diverse culture through its many tile designs. The tiles date from 1300 and 1930, and depict an expansive variety of themes and varying techniques.

The tile configurations were brought together from three separate museums in Spain: the Museo Nacional de Ceramica in Valencia, the Museo del Azulejo de Onda in Castellon and the Museo de Ceramica de Manises in Valencia.

Essentially, the configurations of the pieces, over 100 in total, tell the story of Valencia’s economic development and show the periods of cultural influence. From Islam came the ornate geometric patterns and the colors of lapis and cobalt and from Northern Europe, the scenes of chivalry.

From the 17th and 18th centuries, more playful figures are represented. As the workmanship advanced, so did the excellence of the tiles.

“It’s cool to see the tiles change their shape and design as the decades progress,” junior Nicole Schultz said. “The different influences are really evident.”

The whole of the culture of Spain can be found in the different designs. The various displayed pieces were taken from every place in Valencia. These tiles were everywhere from floor pavements, walls of buildings, church facades and the lowliest servant quarters to the ceilings of the wealthiest manner, .

“I appreciate that these are all part of a place,” Dotseth said. “To think, all this is part of what makes Valencia what it is, what it feels like and what people feel in that place; that’s inspiring.”

The ever-developing tile creations from Valencia didn’t stop production in the city, or even in Spain. Valencia became very involved in exporting goods, and its number one export at the time was tiles.

Today, it is possible to see flamboyant tiles of lustrous patterns and colors all over the streets, homes, buildings and churches in areas of Cuba and Florida, among other places.

As the exhibit wraps around the top-floor showroom, the tiles chronologically align, ending in the most recent tile findings from the 1900s. Photographs of modern-day tiles in use accompany this showcase featuring the current era, and the viewers are able to get a sense of how tile design is present in life today.

“The display of the current tiles was energizing and the colors really popped out. There was an exuberant and carefree feeling to it,” Schultz said.

According to Dotseth, the next step is getting more SMU students to come to the exhibit. She said that the majority of Meadows attendees come from off campus, but the Meadows staff have plans to change that. At the opening of each exhibit, Meadows will advertise a student showing, offering free food and drinks to students to create an inviting atmosphere.

“It’s really important that all students should come check out Meadows,” art major Page Goss said. “Even if they’re not an art or art history major, everyone can appreciate what we have here.”

She feels that the proximity of the museum is a great gift that not many people have, and students need to make an effort to expose themselves to things they don’t normally see and educate themselves culturally.

Although the exhibit will be leaving campus and Texas on Oct. 21, SMU’s ties with Valencia do not go with it. The city of Dallas and SMU have collaborated with the Regional government of Valencia and have struck a cooperation agreement to exchange education, commerce, tourism and aspects of culture. Dotseth said there will most definitely be more exhibits from Valencia on campus in the future and in other areas of Dallas as well. Further developments concerning the exchange of education and tourism between the cities is being discussed.

No matter what lies ahead for Meadows, as Goss said, “every exhibit that comes is so fascinating and unique. It would be a shame to miss any of them.”

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