A statement from Kimberly Kersey and Tom Loughman
A simple yet poignant statement – “I Am A Man.”
We find ourselves searching for words to adequately convey the emotion we feel as yet another name is added to the list of Black lives unjustly taken. There simply are none.
It is our hope that the rightful outrage over George Floyd’s death becomes a catalyst for the uncomfortable conversations and realizations that must be had for real social change to occur. Our institutions thrive when we lean in to our collective humanity and stand together to honor our differences. Through the power of art, we encourage expression and generate mutual understanding. We renew our resolve to be a place for community support, growth, and healing.
With eyes and hearts and arms wide open, we know society can do better. We must do better.
The Amistad Center for Art & Culture
Director & CEO
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
May Director’s Message
Long before the great art museums of the world were founded, public engagement with the visual arts was almost exclusively urban. Whether on the streets of ancient Rome or at a Buddhist pilgrimage site in Asia, in the architecture of the cityscape itself or in public monuments that recalled heroes, so much of the visual world was born from pivotal times and served a societal need as a reminder of both the grandeur and diversity of the human experience.
One of the delights of the experience of the Wadsworth that I long for in this time of isolation is being in the larger spaces of the building on those special days when the museum is brimming with visitors. Surrounding you in that space–no matter if you are there for a family day or music or just out to explore–are amazing works of art that confront our humanity in many dimensions. It is a different experience than being in a regal place, like the imaginary picture gallery of Cardinal Silvio Gonzaga painted by Giovanni Paolo Panini in 1749 and different too from the sublime experience of natural wonders like Niagara Falls, a subject we see returned to by several generations of American artists and amateurs like our own founder, Daniel Wadsworth, in his sketchbook from the early 1800s. Those great works and experiences move in me a sense of grandeur, for sure. Yet they also speak to a solitude and isolation, to the idea of the sublime, with people dwarfed by the incredible effect of art and nature. And so, in this period in which being together is flattened to videocalls, we are hard at work to find ways to enable new experiences that put people at the center of the action. To me and the incredible team here, the Wadsworth we love depends on you being in it.
Although the galleries are temporarily closed, we’re striving to bring meaningful experiences with art to you virtually. We recently launched a special page on our website called Creative Connections to host, in one place, our video and interactive content, and invite people to follow our social media and emails. Embedded there is also a series of short videos made by staff members, a cross between a video diary about how we’re staying connected to the Wadsworth while working from home and inspirational reflections on the art in the collection and in our lives. I hope you’ll enjoy each personal message, keep an eye out for new ones each week as this content builds. They evoke quite wonderfully the joy of the visual arts, and are meant to stir in you happy memories of the museum and collections. Simultaneously, there are other kinds of engagements happening, like the live program at the end of April in which Brandy Culp joined a web-hosted conversation, produced by the Quick Center for the Arts, with Mary Himes, co-founder of #UNLOAD. They talked about Samuel and Elizabeth Colt, their industry, cultural impact, and collecting. From firearms to an infant’s cradle, the works of art in the Colt collection provoke questions about the power of art and design to influence social change. The recording is available to watch and will be followed by a second live conversation scheduled for May 13 from 1:30-2pm. Another digital engagement opportunity to keep in mind is our upcoming virtual Second Saturdays family activity pack going live on Saturday, May 9. Thank you to all who are keeping the Wadsworth close, in your social feed, in your inbox, and on your screens, during this time of social distancing. More is in store!
My sincere thanks to those who have recently donated to the Annual Fund and those who may be able to contribute in weeks ahead. With your support we can ensure that meaningful experiences with art are available for all who engage with the museum and the collections, both in person and from afar.
We miss you. We know you miss us too. We are committed to the future and to keeping you and the arts connected no matter the challenges.
Thomas J. Loughman
Director & CEO
Images (top; bottom): Giovanni Paolo Panini, The Picture Gallery of Cardinal Silvio Valenti Gonzaga, 1749. Oil on canvas. The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund, 1948.478; Daniel Wadsworth, Niagara. Watercolor and/or pencil on paper. The William Arnold Healy Fund, 1931.41