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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Structure & Sound Opens Next Week

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I am delighted to add Harry Bertoia to our community of artists by curating Harry Bertoia: Structure and Sound. Bertoia was a colleague to many of the craft and design artists in our collection so there is a great synergy between his work and our holdings.

Born in Italy, Harry Bertoia (1915-1978) was a resident of Barto, Pennsylvania, where he created his well-known sonambient or tonal sounding sculptures and designed furniture for Knoll, Inc.

His early studies in printmaking and metalworking at the Cranbrook Academy of Art informed his work throughout his career. Drawing, too, was an important part of the artist’s creative process, and many of his compositions articulate his planning and experimentation for sculpture.

In 1950, at the invitation of the Knoll furniture design company, he moved to eastern Pennsylvania and designed, among other pieces, the Bertoia Diamond Chair series, which became part of the modern furniture movement.

The tonal is the sculpture that is most often associated with Harry Bertoia. Sizes vary from a few inches up to 19 feet. Steel, copper and brass were the common metals used for the rods, which are capped with cylinders or drops of metal. These features, by their weight, influence the swaying of the tonal rods and the tenor of sound they emit.

Bertoia’s home and studio, including a barn space installation of 75 tonals of varying heights, is still maintained by his son, artist Val Bertoia. He occasionally arranges symphonic musical performances. Album recordings made by Harry Bertoia will be included in the installation so that the visitor will leave with a sensory as well as aesthetic experience.

Bertoia also explored jewelry making, crafting organic forms of silver and copper. Many of these one-of-a-kind pieces were exhibited through the Nierendorf Gallery in New York which also supported the artist with a stipend so he could continue his printwork and jewelry.

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