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The Director

September Director’s Message

Dear Friends,
As we enter our 175th year of serving audiences here in Connecticut and beyond, a number of exciting installations open soon. The new focus gallery on the second floor of the Avery Memorial—where so many contemplated Giorgione’s La Vecchia—will continue to showcase the stories of singular masterpieces, changing every two months. A great opportunity for close looking and finding yourself in exceptional works of art, the series reminds us of the incredible diversity, range, and quality of art experiences possible. This month, come in to see a gown worn at the English Court by a Russian ambassador’s wife. Designed by the House of Worth (c. 1890) the striking silk dress is embroidered with thousands of freshwater pearls. But beyond its beauty, this icon of cosmopolitan fashion, shaped by the etiquette and protocols of the Russian and English Courts, opens up questions about originality and personality within fashion and the internationalism of a century ago.
Toward the end of September, we are able to present a special installation of the museum’s acclaimed Ballets Russes collection. Two costumes join designs in watercolor by eminent stage designers—Alexandre Benois, Léon Bakst, and Nathalie Gontcharova—and leading painters from the Parisian art scene–Jean Cocteau, André Derain, Giorgio de Chirico, Juan Gris, and Ferdinand Léger. The Wadsworth has long been home to this collection purchased from the famed dance troupe’s producer in 1933 and added to over the years.
On Saturday, September 28th, we recognize 175 years of serving the public at our annual fundraiser Celebrate the Wadsworth. All proceeds enable the advancement of knowledge and our unending work of inspiring everyone to experience and appreciate excellence in art and culture. Thank you for your steadfast support.
Beyond the galleries, two sculptures will be installed outdoors this month: on the Main Street lawn, William Turnbull’s Large Horse (1990) and in our central court Herbert Ferber’s Pittington III (1979-81). Mel Edwards’ sculpture Across the Limpopo(c. 1974) is newly conserved and will be installed just in time for the opening of Afrocosmologies on October 19. Our redoubled commitment to the appreciation of sculpture is advancing our institution in several ways—blurring the boundaries of the museum’s walls and injecting a range of experiences, from the casual to the intense, into the public dialogue.
And one last thought for us all to consider. As the school year returned to our neighborhoods all over Connecticut in recent weeks, an incredible statistic came across my desk: we booked about 200 school buses to provide free transport to the museum for elementary, middle, and high school field trips. At the college level, a Capital Community College course will be taught in the galleries this semester, and we look forward to welcoming a new group of interns across departments. Last year, 18 students from 11 schools chose the museum for their internship experience. The Wadsworth is always a hub for learning, and as we enter a new academic year we are filled with excitement for all that lies ahead.
Thomas J. Loughman
Director & CEO
Top: Court dress (French), c. 1890-1905. House of Worth. Silk satin with embroidery of gold thread, sequins, crystals, and freshwater pearls. Purchased from Lady Nathalie Ridley with funds contributed by Miss Elizabeth Hicks.
Bottom left: Fernand Léger, Two Figures, c. 1919. Graphite and pen and ink on paper. The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund.
Bottom right: Michel Larionov, Design for Make-up for Kikimora, before 1933. Chalk on paper. The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund.