A promising new year

Welcome to a new year of stellar exhibitions, provocative programs, captivating music, and ever-expanding youth programming that keeps us energized through the winter months. The balmy conclusion to 2015 saw over 800 people attend our Holiday Open House, a collaboration with Mercer Museum, numerous school and adult tour groups enjoying the galleries and the outdoor sculpture gardens, and made us a delightful destination for those seeking an alternative to Black Friday shopping. The Museum was fortunate to enlist the services of Eiseman Construction to meticulously replace the original slate roof of the Warden’s House, constructed in 1884. New copper-lined gutters, rounded slate siding, and fresh paint for the soffits and windows will ensure the longevity of our beautiful entrance façade. The good weather helped this project to come in on time and on budget.

In the midst of changing multiple exhibitions and opening our marquee installation, Blanket Statements: New Quilts by Kaffe Fassett and Historical Quilts from the Collection of the Quilt Museum and Gallery, York, UK, we welcomed two colleagues from the museum field for a site visit associated with our reaccreditation application with the American Alliance of Museums (AAM).  The AAM is the national governing body for museums and its imprimatur through accreditation is an important endorsement. The Michener first achieved this honor in 2001. Our colleagues were thoroughly impressed with the Michener’s staff, board, volunteers, exhibitions, visitors, and physical facility from top to bottom. They will submit a report that will be reviewed by the Accreditation Commission in February 2016 and we will learn the outcome in early spring.

2016 also heralds transitions. We welcome several new staff members, introduced on page 25, and say farewell to long-term employee Erika Jaeger-Smith, who has been a part of the Museum’s growth for over 20 years. We extend our appreciation to Jeffrey A. Miller Catering for being a part of the evolution of the Edgar N. Putman Event Pavilion, our premiere space for events and rentals, and welcome Catering By Design to the Michener family.

The Board of Trustees continues to grow with the addition of three new members, and a major transition in Board leadership will ensure continuity and strong oversight of this outstanding institution. We honored outgoing President/Incoming Chairman Louis E. Della Penna on December 14, 2015 with toasts of appreciation for his considerable efforts to steer the Museum through a physical and leadership transformation during his 2012-2015 tenure.  The Della Penna President’s Award was also inaugurated to honor and reward a deserving Museum employee for his or her exceptional efforts throughout the year.  Please join me in thanking Lou for his dedication to the Michener Art Museum.

The Board of Trustees continues to grow with the addition of three new members, and a major transition in Board Leadership with the election of Gregory Church as President.  His expertise will ensure continuity and strong oversight of this outstanding institution.

Lisa Tremper Hanover, Director & CEO

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A new strategic plan

On June 8, 2015, the Michener Art Museum Board of Trustees gave their stamp of approval to the document that will guide our vision and actions from 2015–2020. Our Strategic Plan, Fortifying the Michener Art Museum for the 21st Century, will aid the transformation of the Museum into a cultural touchstone for both new and returning audiences, retaining its identity as a regional treasure while responding to the new environment that museums worldwide must now navigate.

As a result of this planning process, there has been an evolution of employee positions and an investment in strengthening departments with professional staff support and technology.

Fall 2015 brings expanded programmatic offerings in youth and adult art education, music and exhibition specific events, and several opportunities for our Members to participate in very special gatherings with our curators and artists. We will continue our pilot program Art for All that has touched so many dealing with the effects of dementia/Alzheimer’s as patients and caregivers. The Museum’s Docent corps has made a remarkable contribution to this program and has a deep sense of satisfaction with these intimate interactions.

The popular Collector Series returns with three sold-out opportunities to view extraordinary collections and interact with those who are invested in an aesthetic vision. I am grateful to SEI for their generous support of this initiative. And, The Art of Wine, celebrates its Fifth Biennial on October 17, 2015. This is the Museum’s most important and signature fundraiser and your support as a guest and with donations to our Silent and Live Auctions is critical to our ongoing success.

Other important and exciting initiatives include the reimagining of our gallery spaces that will provide fresh interpretation of our treasures, including Redfield’s The Burning of Center Bridge. The Byers Gallery undergoes a make-over and will be dedicated to the Pennsylvania Impressionist stars. With the 2013 installation of Nelson Shanks: A Brush with Reality in the Putman-Smith Gallery, we saw that large-scale, dynamic, and contemporary work shines in this space. Gerry & Marguerite Lenfest Chief Curator Kirsten Jensen is assembling our Modernist holdings that will transform this gallery with color and scale.

I look forward to welcoming you to our Museum!

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An exciting spring

The Artist in the Garden exhibition, curated by our own Kirsten Jensen, Senior Curator of Exhibitions, has been drawing a crowd. Our youth classes, adult tours, and visitors waiting for a harbinger of spring, have responded to the dynamic variety Kirsten has brought together. These include our well-known stars such as Rae Sloan Bredin, Daniel Garber, and Mary Elizabeth Price in context with contemporary interpretations by Elizabeth Osborne, Jennifer Bartlett, Mavis Smith, and Peter Paone. Works from the permanent collection, which have not been on view for long periods of time are complemented by important loans from area collectors and institutions making for a rich installation of fresh comparisons.

Elizabeth Osborne (b. 1936), Red October, 2012, oil on canvas, 30 x 43 ½ in. Locks Gallery

Elizabeth Osborne (b. 1936), Red October, 2012, oil on canvas, 30 x 43 ½ in. Locks Gallery

Osborne will be the focus of a solo exhibition, also curated by Kirsten that opens in the Beans Gallery in July. Veils of Color: Juxtapositions and Recent Work by Elizabeth Osborne examines the full evolution of figurative, abstraction, and vibrant color theory employed by this painter over the course of her long and distinguished career.

The Museum’s Board of Trustees and Staff have been involved in crafting our Strategic Plan for the past several months and we look forward to presenting a synopsis of our goals to you early this summer. A key milestone in this process is the Museum’s 30th Anniversary, which we celebrate in 2018. In addition, the Museum is undergoing a self-study for reaccreditation by the American Alliance of Museums, the governing body of our field. This important distinction, first achieved by the Museum in 2001, indicates we are an extraordinary operation whose standards are consistently high. We submit our report on July 1, 2015 for the Accreditation Commissions review. We will then have a site visit by two professionals from comparable museums who will review all aspects of our facility, staff, board, and exhibitions and programs.

The Michener partnered with the Mercer Museum and the Bucks County Bar Association to document and exhibit the extraordinary lineage of judicial portraits that were housed in the Ceremonial Courtroom of the Courthouse. In January we paid homage to this judicial legacy with a grand celebration and month-long installation. The Bar Association received a County Bar Recognition Award from the Pennsylvania Bar Association for this project. Many people contributed to this effort and we are proud to be a participant in the project with our colleagues.

We congratulate our Chairman Emeritus, Herman Silverman, for a milestone 2015. He turned 95 in January and was recognized for his leadership in business, culture, and academia with the Helen and Kenneth Gemmill Distinguished Philanthropy and Service Award and an Honorary Doctorate Degree, both from our neighbor, Delaware Valley University.

As a result of our revitalized façade landscaping and elegant and powerful new lighting scheme, the museum’s prison walls and interior entrance courtyard are a beacon for the community. We will celebrate the generous contributions that made this possible in June and appreciate this support.

Welcome to a full and festive summer at the Michener!

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