A Lively Fall at the Wadsworth Atheneum
I bring you this update on the exciting transformation that is underway at the Wadsworth Atheneum. We have begun the new season with the first phase of our renovation behind us and more than $3,000,000 of additional funding raised for its completion. The State of Connecticut has made a generous investment in this project, totaling $5,000,000. In early 2015 we will reopen the entire museum (including long closed galleries) and mount a grand series of celebrations to commemorate a new chapter in our illustrious history.
Last season, 717,000 people saw our travelling exhibitions in three countries. Patti Smith: Camera Solo, Medieval to Monet: French Painting in the Wadsworth Atheneum, and Burst of Light: Caravaggio and his Legacy wowed audiences and solidified our reputation as a world class museum.
At home, we were a finalist for the Institute of Museum and Library Services National Medal: one of 33 finalists of which only 5 were art museums.
We were re-accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. They found our Strategic Plan to be “stellar” and will offer it as a model for museums nationally.
We mounted 26 on site exhibitions and installations and increased attendance to almost 107,000-our highest attendance since 2008 when the entire museum was last open. And we mounted a bi-lingual audio tour of the collection.
Oliver Tostmann, our new Susan Morse Hilles Curator of European Art will begin work on October 28. He comes to us from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum where he was Curator of European Art, and he looks forward to meeting all of our loyal supporters.
The renovation will necessitate the temporary closure of a number of galleries. Throughout construction, our exhibition program will continue and the Avery building will be fully open with highlights of our American art collection on view. The Avery Theater will offer a slate of dynamic programs including films, performances and lectures; community programs will continue as well, with Sunday Serenades, First Thursdays, and Second Saturdays for Families. The MATRIX gallery off Avery Court will be transformed by three new installments of our storied MATRIX program– I hope you will see the current MATRIX exhibition Virgil Marti: Ode to a Hippie.
The Huntington Galleries are again open to the public with a provocative new exhibition. An Artificial Wilderness: The Landscape in Contemporary Photography explores man’s impact on nature, and received plaudits in last Sunday’s New York Times. The Age of Pleasure and Enlightenment in the Morgan South Galleries is a feast of 18th c. painting and decorative art and Weaving the Myth of Psyche in Heublein Gallery features five rare 17th c. tapestries that have long been in storage.
We are fortunate to have such an impressive array of programs to offer and a renowned collection to draw from. We look forward to a stunning reinstallation of the permanent collection and the opening on January 31, 2015, of Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland.
I hope to see you in the galleries often and want to sincerely thank you for your continued support. We look towards 2015 with great anticipation, but also with extreme gratitude for all that you have done to sustain us during this time of profound transformation.