Renewing the Wadsworth
re·new·al : the state of being made new, fresh, or strong again
With Spring finally at our doorstep, I am reminded of the significance of this season. Spring marks the replenishing of the earth’s resources to sustain us. Spring shakes off the doldrums so we feel alive again. Spring is renewal.
Renewal is a theme here at the Wadsworth these days. The final phase of our renovation is underway as contractors are hard at work, peeling away old layers and installing new features that will welcome visitors in 2015.
In early March I welcomed over 100 museum members and friends to a presentation on this landmark project. Our audience piled into the Aetna Theater to hear from Smith Edwards McCoy Architects, Chief Curator and Krieble Curator of American Painting and Sculpture Robin Jaffee Frank and Georgette Auerbach Koopman Director of Education Johanna Plummer, who laid out plans for the renovation of the building as well as the reinstallation and reinterpretation of the permanent collection. The response we received to our new vision for the museum was unanimously enthusiastic, and we are moving forward with a renewed spirit as we approach the finish line of our transformation.
Of course we are still energized from the recent windfall of gifts from both the State of Connecticut and former member Charles H. Schwartz, which will enable us to complete work on our buildings and expand our collection of European masterworks from the 18th century or earlier. Susan Morse Hilles Curator for European Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings Oliver Tostmann has already used the Charles H. Schwartz Fund to acquire a superlative work by the painter Artemisia Gentileschi. Not only is she among the most renowned painters of the Baroque era, but her legacy as the only celebrated woman artist of her day has survived the test of time. Self-Portrait as a Lute Player is one of only three self-portraits of the artist known to exist. This exquisite addition to the collection strengthens the Wadsworth’s reputation for its celebrated Baroque holdings, and will be a centerpiece of our European masterpieces when the Morgan Memorial Building reopens in 2015. You can read about this new member of our museum family in The New York Times and The Hartford Courant. Welcome Artemisia!
In looking forward to all of the excitement of 2015, we should not overlook our current offerings. During our transformation we remain open to the public and are committed to serving the community through our ongoing schedule of MATRIX exhibitions, a stunning display of European Masterworks from the Permanent Collection, and a wide array of programs ranging from First Thursday after hours events and curator-led gallery talks, to innovative film series and Second Saturdays for Families. And later at the end of April the annual Fine Art & Flowers will fill our galleries with spring cheer!
We at the museum are reflecting on what the Wadsworth was and is, and what it will be to our future generations. Looking back is always gratifying: being the oldest public art museum in the country comes with a rich tradition of “firsts,” and our embrace of the “new” has historically put the Wadsworth at the forefront of the art world. But as we move forward, we want to ensure that our quest for the “new” does not overshadow our renewal of the museum’s commitment to our building, our collections, our visitors, our community, and you, our most cherished patrons.
Susan L. Talbott
Director & C.E.O.