With over 17,000 objects in the museum’s permanent collection, there are many amazing works that visitors rarely get to see. Take a peek into the vaults and off the walls each Monday with a new Art Abstract!
In celebration of leap year, enjoy this work by Canadian artist Gay Rogers. Our collection includes two other works by Rogers, both of which feature frogs as the subject.
Leap day, February 29, comes around once every 1,461 days, and serves the purpose of keeping the calendar in sync with the seasons.
Not a new concept at all, the ancient Roman calendar, which was based on the motions of the Moon, had a plethora of leap days, weeks, and months. After centuries of this confusion, Julius Caesar ordered the creation of a new calendar in the year 46 B.C.–and thus was born the Julian calendar. Consisting of a 365-day year, with a leap day added to every fourth year, the result was an average of 365-and-a-quarter days per year. That was about 11 minutes shorter than the length of a true year, so the Julian calendar gradually drifted out of alignment with the seasons.
In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII decided to tackle the problem by instituting a system where three leap days were dropped every 400 years. With this change, the difference between the calendar year and the true year adds up to just one day in 3300 years.
So why do we call it “leap year?” Because that extra day causes succeeding days to leap over a day of the week. For example, if your birthday fell on Saturday in 2014, and Sunday in 2015, the leap year will cause it to skip Monday and fall on a Tuesday in 2016. All of this helps keep the calendar aligned with Earth’s motion around the Sun, so we don’t wake up one day and realize that December is beach season and summer is for skiing.