A transformational new initiative of Art Bridges and the Terra Foundation for American Art has awarded more than $700,000 to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The funding supports a program of sharing treasures from the Museum’s renowned collections with communities across Pennsylvania. An official from the Terra Foundation for American Art, along with directors from nine museums, joined legislators and arts supporters in the Rotunda of the Pennsylvania State Capitol today to announce the program.
The Art Bridges + Terra Foundation Initiative supports multi-year, multi-institutional exhibition partnerships that engage local communities with outstanding works of American art. Sharing collections and resources, these collaborative partners create a series of exhibitions that are content rich, include in-depth educational and interpretive materials, and are designed to expand audiences through innovative programming. Initiative grants also foster professional development exchanges between partners and across groups. Formed by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania cohort of partners is ambitious in scale, comprising nine museums from across the commonwealth. The partner museums have already selected loans from the Philadelphia Museum of Art as part of the first phase of the project.
“Art Bridges is proud to support this groundbreaking new program,” said Margi Conrads, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Strategic Art Initiatives at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and curatorial consultant to Art Bridges. Created by collector and philanthropist Alice Walton in 2017, Art Bridges is dedicated to dramatically expanding access to American art across the country. “The sharing of American artworks has already brought
together these outstanding organizations in an unprecedented new partnership model, unlike any we’ve seen in the museum field to date. As the initiative continues, we look forward to supporting the innovative work that these organizations will do to engage their communities through these powerful works of American art."
Elizabeth Glassman, President and CEO of the Terra Foundation for American Art, said: “We are pleased to be working with the Philadelphia Museum of Art to launch the Art Bridges + Terra Foundation Initiative in Pennsylvania as part of our nationwide program to engage local communities with outstanding works of American art in meaningful ways. Already this Pennsylvania cohort has yielded profound conversations and fresh ideas on how to achieve this. Created with local communities in mind, their collaborative exhibitions and programs will present American art in innovative ways, inviting audiences to be part of an always-evolving dialogue around it.”
Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, identified the following museums as partners through a careful process of research and evaluation over the last two years:
- Allentown Art Museum
- Demuth Foundation (Lancaster Museum of Art and Demuth Museum, Lancaster)
- Erie Art Museum
- James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown
- Palmer Museum of Art, Penn State University, University Park
- Reading Public Museum
- The Trout Gallery, Dickinson College, Carlisle
- The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Greensburg
Their initial loan requests are broad-ranging and include works created by some of Pennsylvania’s most acclaimed artists, including Charles Demuth, Edward Hicks, and Charles Sheeler.
State Senator Patrick Browne (16th District, Lehigh Valley) serves as co-chair of the Pennsylvania Arts and Culture Caucus. He stated, “The unique initiative announced today is transformational in the way it will expend the access to renowned collections of art to diverse audiences and communities across Pennsylvania. I applaud Art Bridges and the Terra Foundation for American Art for their financial commitment to this great opportunity and the Philadelphia Museum of Art for its leadership and interest in sharing its wonderful collection of art and history with other museums, including the Allentown Art Museum in my hometown. This program, as it nurtures cultural activity in our cities and towns, will also provide benefits to local economies through increased public engagement and tourism and will encourage more young people to draw inspiration from creativity.”
The Allentown Art Museum has chosen Marsden Hartley’s Blessing the Melon (The Indians Bring the Harvest to Christian Mary), of about 1918, and two eighteenth-century Peruvian paintings, The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, with Saints Francis of Assisi and Anthony of Padua along with The Annunciation, for the exhibition Evolution of the Spiritual: Europe to America. On view from November 24, 2019 through May 24, 2020, the installation aims to expand the idea of what comprises American art and to reach diverse audiences whose history and traditions may not have been included in traditional narratives about the history of American art.
The Demuth Foundation plans to borrow Tulips, 1917, an important work on paper by the modernist Charles Demuth, along with an additional Demuth flower subject from another partner, the Reading Public Museum. These exceptional works by the Lancaster native—one of the most outstanding American watercolorists of the twentieth century—will complement the exhibition Focus on Flora: Charles Demuth’s Florals, on view in Lancaster from May 4 through June 30.
The Erie Art Museum has requested the loan of Paul, 1994, a painting by Chuck Close, to be paired with a self-portrait in a jacquard-woven textile done in the previous year by this celebrated and controversial contemporary artist. These works will be installed near the museum’s main entrance, where they will greet visitors beginning in the fall of this year.
The Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State has selected Homage to the Square (It Seems), 1963, a painting by the influential artist and educator, Josef Albers. It will be on view from September 3 through December 15 in an exhibition commemorating the legacy of the Bauhaus in art, design, and architecture. The presentation of the Albers will be closely linked to a major, international symposium “Bauhaus Transfers” sponsored by the Stuckeman School of Architecture at Penn State.
For its exhibition Picturing Pennsylvania Barns, on view from September 15, 2019, through January 5, 2020, the Reading Public Museum will create a focused installation in which its painting Hill Road, 1920, by George Sotter is displayed side-by-side with two works by the modernist Charles Sheeler, lent by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Sheeler’s Bucks County Barn, 1918, a gelatin silver print, captures the same barn that appears in Sotter’s work and from very nearly the same angle. Sheeler’s luminous Pennsylvania Landscape, created seven years later, rounds out the grouping.
In Carlisle, at Dickinson College, The Trout Gallery plans to borrow five delicate silhouettes by Moses Williams, the early nineteenth-century cut-paper artist who grew up enslaved in the home of the Philadelphia painter Charles Willson Peale. Freed in 1804, Williams continued to work for the Peale family museum, cutting silhouettes; the group to be lent to The Trout Gallery includes portraits of members of the Peale family. The college, located near the Mason-Dixon line and not far from the northernmost point of the Confederate advance during the Civil War, was founded by Dr. Benjamin Rush, whom Williams may have known in Philadelphia through his friendship with Charles Willson Peale.
The Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg is borrowing Penn’s Treaty with the Indians, about 1830-35, and Ralph Blakelock’s Indian Encampment, about 1890. These paintings are presented in the exhibition The Outsider’s Gaze, which looks at images of Native Americans from the perspective of European-American artists working in the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It will serve as a companion exhibition to Mingled Visions: The Photographs of Edward S. Curtis and Will Wilson, on view through June 30, 2019.
The James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown borrowed a work by the acclaimed Bucks County Impressionist Daniel Garber. A commanding yet tender portrait of the artist’s young daughter, Tanis is distinguished especially by its striking use of backlighting. It was painted in 1915 at Garber’s home in the Cuttalossa Glen, near New Hope, not far from the museum. The painting was presented in context with a large-scale mural by Garber and an installation of similarly-scaled murals by Edward Steichen.
Timothy Rub, the Philadelphia Museum of Art director, noted that he was drawn to the Art Bridges + Terra Foundation Initiative because of the opportunity it offered to address an objective of the museum’s Strategic Plan. “While the Philadelphia Museum of Art lends its collection to museums around the world, we are also committed to working more collaboratively with sister institutions closer to home,” Rub said. “I am delighted that we are playing a leadership role in this promising initiative, knowing that it will build sustainable relationships and broaden the reach of our public service across the state.“
Future phases of the project will culminate in the development of additional exhibitions, encompassing up to 25 works each, that will be drawn both from the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the partner institutions.