November Director’s Message
Thank you to all who have come out to see Afrocosmologies: American Reflections since it opened two weeks ago. The exhibition is a point of pride for many, including those artists on view and their champions, many of whom joined us for the opening. That is in part because the show is not only a bridge to understanding the inspirations and motivations of these 97 artists and the work they’ve made since the 1860s, but also a route to the universal questions driving human creativity in every time and culture. It is an exhibition for everyone. Greeting you when you arrive via our Main Street entrance is a great sculpture by Mel Edwards, Across the Limpopo (1973), made here in Connecticut for a pioneering show of his work 45 years ago, newly conserved in time for this major project.
A recent visit with a colleague led to a lively conversation about the range and variety of experiences we are creating at the Wadsworth. Why bother with sculpture (“heavy, hard to appreciate, expensive to move”), video (“does it really stand up to painting?”), drawings and textiles (“so fragile…and does anyone really understand them anymore?”) at our museum at a time when the pace of society is quickening and our lives are inundated with more visual material–constantly, unrelentingly, and often confusingly–than ever before in human history? We talked about how each of our institutions was called to serve the community in particular ways, and how the Wadsworth team is committed to opening up the widest range of cultural experience possible, limited by what we are capable of doing authentically as an institution serving New England audiences today. And so while it might seem ambitious for us to present a multimedia project currently on view at the Venice Biennale (MATRIX 183 / Kahlil Joseph / BLKNWS, in the video gallery from November 9), master drawings from the collection (Vasari, Rosa, Tiepolo, in the gallery off Morgan Great Hall, opened last weekend), and a focus project on an 18th century Connecticut cabinetmaker’s use of the classical orders (The Mathematics of Elegance, on view from November 20), each is an opportunity to take a closer look at singular works of art which speak to ideas of excellence, beauty, and social order in provocative ways.
Right after the Thanksgiving holiday, Festival of Trees & Traditions begins Friday, November 29 and continues every day–including Monday, December 2 and Tuesday, December 3–through Sunday, December 8 from 10am-5pm. Come enjoy the festive galleries with friends and family.
Measuring the difference a lively museum makes takes many forms. Our Annual Report, chronicling our efforts and impacts of the past year, will be released this month. I invite anyone curious about our work or about the big ideas shaping museums around the world today to pick up a free copy at admissions or download the report via our website after November 15. It is packed with a variety of perspectives worth considering.
And finally, as the days grow shorter and 2019 comes close, we hope you will consider a gift to our Annual Fund. From curating thought-provoking exhibitions that bring national and international artworks to the museum, to offering enriching educational programs for all ages, to maintaining the daily operations of a world-class museum–your gift makes a difference.
Thomas J. Loughman