Thursday, March 26, 2020

Art Museum Announces Major Reinstallation of Permanent Collection

The content of this post comes from a Delaware Art Museum press release...

The Delaware Art Museum is excited to announce the reinstallation and reinterpretation of eight main-floor galleries housing its permanent collection. This project encompasses the Museum’s spaces dedicated to American art and illustration, Howard Pyle, John Sloan, and the Bancroft Collection of Pre-Raphaelite Art. Between April and November 2020, over 8,000 square feet of exhibition space will be renovated and rehung. Working with community and professional input, gallery layout and interpretation have been completely reimagined to connect better with today’s visitors and conserve the collections for future generations.

According to Chief Curator and Curator of American Art Heather Campbell Coyle, “This isn’t just fresh paint! We’ve been working behind the scenes for over two years. There are new works to show and new stories to tell. Entire collections are being relocated to improve visitor experience.”

This will be the first comprehensive rehanging since the Museum opened its renovated building in 2005. Since then, thanks to significant study and audience feedback, the collections have grown to include key pieces by women and artists of color that introduce new narratives and tell a more inclusive story of the visual arts. 

These new works, including a bust of Frederick Douglass by Isaac Scott Hathaway, and Botticelli’s Studio, a painting by Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale on loan to the Museum, will join masterpieces by Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Raphaelle Peale, Frederic E. Church, George Inness, John Sloan, Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, Violet Oakley, and Frank E. Schoonover. This reinstallation will also bring focus to the role of local artists and collectors in the narrative of national art.

As part of the Museum’s strategic vision for community engagement, the Museum embarked on this project with an inclusive and visitor-centered approach. Community collaborators who participated in focus groups and left responses in our galleries have been integral to helping design a better Delaware Art Museum.

“Our local community’s input at every step was critical to this project,” says Amelia Wiggins, Assistant Director of Learning and Engagement, who worked closely with curators on gallery reinterpretation strategies. “We are grateful to those who helped guide us in early focus groups, as well as to visitors who responded to the prototyping of new ideas in our galleries. Direct feedback from our audiences helped us create bridges between the collection and the contemporary experiences of Delawareans. We look forward to learning what fresh connections our visitors make with the art as galleries reopen later this year.”

The Museum will remain open during these changes, with galleries closing and reopening on a rolling basis. Starting in early April and running through mid-July, a limited selection of works by Howard Pyle and his students will be on view; these galleries will be closed entirely from July through late November. Galleries dedicated to American art before 1900 will be closed from April 20 through the end of June. The Pre-Raphaelite Collection will be off view from July 6 through mid-August. Please check delart.org for details and updates.

The Museum’s reinstallation is fully funded by generous foundations including an anonymous donor, the Starrett Foundation, the Richard C. Von Hess Foundation, and the Sansom Foundation. To transform the galleries, the Museum is working with exhibition designer Keith Ragone Studio and local and regional fabricators.

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