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Archive for the ‘More About NBMAA’ Category

This post comes to us from artist and NBMAA docent Ronald Abbe.

Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2, 1912 by Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) was among the most radical works exhibited at the 1913 Armory Show. Oil on canvas, 57 7/8 x 35 1/8 in. Philadelphia Museum of Art.

One hundred years ago New Yorkers reacted with shock and awe to the Armory Show of 1913. This was their first encounter with European modernism as represented most notably by Picasso and Matisse.  When the show moved on to Boston and Chicago the reception slipped to actual dismay.  Students at the Art Institute of Chicago burned paintings by Matisse (in effigy).

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The New Britain Museum of American Art by Architect, Ann Beha

The New Britain Museum of American Art by Architect, Ann Beha

What is the role of the architecture of a museum? Are museums just about the interior display of art, or do they reveal currents in architecture? Walking through a museum, I can assume that their priorities are to display art well and provide a space that creates an aesthetic, educational experience for the visitor, while at the same time embody civic values and the idea of a socially engaged museum. Museums alarm many art world insiders when there is a move toward the spectacularization of the museum at the expense of traditional commitments to high art. Art critic Christopher Knight said, “when the museum itself becomes the event…art gets lost in the shuffle and the true purpose of the museum is betrayed.” However, critics champion museum architecture by architects such as Renzo Piano that allows total focus on the art. (more…)

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Bryson Burroughs (1869-1934) worked as a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for 28 years in the early 20th century. During his time at the Met, he was responsible for their massive increase in American art holdings, in addition to numerous other achievements including the first acquisition for a public collection of a work by Paul Cezanne (1839-1906). Burroughs’ curatorial decisions and influences were prominent in the advancement of the art market in the early 20th century. Interestingly, his ideas also had a major impact on the NBMAA’s decision to collect solely American art, with a focus on contemporary work.

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Chester Harding's Mrs. Samuel Appleton

Mrs. Samuel Appleton (Julia Webster). Chester Harding (1792-1866). Oil on canvas, 49 x 40 7/8 in. New Britain Museum of American Art, John Butler Talcott Foundation, 1972.91.

Are museums:

  1. 1. Places to preserve history,
  2. 2. Places to establish new history, or
  3. 3. Places to encourage creative growth?

Can there be a fourth choice- All of the above?

The New Britain Museum of American Art (NBMAA) is an interesting example that falls into the “All of the above” category. The facilities of the NBMAA include a variety of galleries that tell the story of Art History in America, while allowing contemporary artists to show us what tomorrow’s  textbooks might include. In addition, the museum has two spaces that allow for the artistic exploration and expression of children and adults alike.

On the first floor of the NBMAA’s gallery space, visitors can literally walk through the history of American art. The central hall features the Museum’s illustration collection, while rooms branching off allow the visitor to stroll through galleries highlighting Colonial Portraiture, the Hudson River School, 19th-20th Century Academic and Genre paintings, and American Impressionism. (more…)

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Brooklyn Museum 1916

The exterior of the Brooklyn Museum in 1916, including the original Eastern Parkway staircase.

In this recession economy, the arts have suffered a heavy blow and museums find themselves trying to appeal to as broad an audience as possible just to stay afloat. But who is today’s museumgoer ? How does a museum go about attracting their attention? Beginning in 1699, the Paris Salon was the official art exhibition space of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture (French for “Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture”) and, for a time, the greatest annual art event in the world. It was also a chance for the upper and lower classes to rub elbows—everyone came to the Salon. Does everyone still visit museums today? (more…)

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Moving Forward

The New Britain Museum of American Art is excited to announce that in the coming months we will be posting on this blog, updating our Flickr, and even “Tweeting” on a regular basis!

Please follow us and comment on our posts!

Let us know what you want to hear about, and we will get back to you.

Happy Holidays, and we wish you all the best in 2010!

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