It’s been a sizzling summer at the Michener Art Museum, where lines have wrapped around the lobby as visitors poured in for one last chance to see Renaissance and Baroque paintings by such masters as Botticelli, Titian, Tintoretto and Parmigianino, right here in Bucks County. Art lovers, moms and dads, families and friends, and busloads of tourists and local residents all got their taste of European art at an important moment in its history. People filled the galleries, listening intently to the audio tour, studying the ornate frames up close, buying the catalogue so they could take the experience home. Many came again and again, knowing this was their only chance to see these masterpieces before they are returned to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.
“We’ve been averaging about 1,000 visitors a day, and when all is said and done, more than 100,000 people will have passed through the doors of the museum to see the selection of 45 paintings and tapestries from the world-renowned Uffizi,” says Michener Director & CEO Lisa Tremper Hanover, who came aboard in July, succeeding Bruce Katsiff at the helm. “In the month of July alone, we had 25,000 visitors, and when the final numbers come in, this may be our most popular exhibit ever. Our membership has passed the 5,000 mark. People who came to see ‘Angels’ repeatedly told us how much they appreciated the Michener’s many amenities, including the shop and the café, as well as the courteous staff.”
“The museum has entered a new era of growth,” says Brian H. Peterson, the Michener’s Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest Chief Curator. “While our roots will always be in Bucks County, we’ve begun to branch out and grow into a museum whose scope extends beyond the regional. We look forward to offering our visitors the finest in locally grown art as well as delightful and nourishing fare grown elsewhere.”
“This fall we’re taking a group of 57 Pennsylvania Impressionist paintings to a museum in Florida,” Peterson continues. “Our long-term goal is to bring the best of Bucks County to the world, and bring the best the world has to offer to Bucks County.”
Not only have crowds been lured to Italian art at the Michener, but To Stir, Inform and Inflame has drawn Tony Auth enthusiasts from near and far, provoking conversations about politics and world affairs – just as an editorial cartoon should do.
The Michener’s refurbished Education Center opened to a sold-out summer camp, with more than 550 participants in over 30 camp programs. More than 300 visitors came to a family open-house showcasing campers’ artwork and a performance of the Arts of Latin America. Registration for fall classes is now underway. “We hosted several Camp Capers and Scout groups for tours and art classes beyond scheduled camp art class programming, and had a youth art exhibition at Rep. Marguerite Quinn’s office throughout the summer,” says Ruth Anderson, Director of Youth and Family Programs.
The new Edgar N. Putman Event Pavilion has been attracting more than 2,300 revelers to weddings and special events in the all-glass structure – an additional 25 non-museum events are already booked. Guests report they enjoy having the event in a museum, where they can tour the galleries during cocktails.
Being conveniently located near SEPTA, the Turnpike and New Jersey also ranks high in visitor feedback.
“The Uffizi exhibit has been a tremendous success for Bucks County’s tourism industry,” says Jerry Lepping, Executive Director, Visit Bucks County. “Visitors traveling to the Michener Art Museum have dined in our restaurants, slept at our hotels and B&Bs, and visited our many other cultural and historical attractions. This impact is vital to keep our local economy thriving and we have been privileged to host such a world-renowned collection of art.”
As summer’s end draws near, the Michener continues to offer attractions that will lure visitors from near and far. “From thinking globally with ‘Treasures from the Uffizi Gallery,’ we are going local,” says Hanover, exhibiting the works of contemporary regional artists in Creative Hand, Discerning Heart, on view September 8 through December 30, 2012. Parting Gifts, on view September 8 through December 9, will honor Bruce Katsiff, Director/CEO 1989 to 2012, who helped grow the Michener’s collection, visitorship and building. Before the Tony Auth exhibit closes, a symposium on the state of editorial cartoons, featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonists Jules Feiffer, Joel Pett and Auth, will take place October 14.
In November, two more exciting exhibits open: Making Magic looks at the meaning of beauty in both word and image, and pioneering fiber artist Ted Hallman will create a site-specific fiber installation in the museum’s Pfundt Gallery. Cell phone tours will be available at the museum.
Three jazz events will fill the Edgar N. Putman Event Pavilion with reverberating sound: Sunday Afternoon Jazz September 23, with the Jarrett Gilgore Group; Leon Jordan Jr. and Friends October 6, and Hot Club of Philadelphia November 17.
To stay abreast of this and more, be sure you’re receiving our e-newsletter – go to www.MichenerArtMuseum.org to sign up now. Better yet, become a member and receive many member benefits, including the members preview magazine.
The James A. Michener Art Museum is located at 138 South Pine St., Doylestown, Pa. Museum hours: Tuesday through Friday, 10 am to 4:30 pm;
Saturday 10 am to 5 pm; Sunday noon to 5 pm. Admission: Members and children under 6, free; adults $15; seniors $13; college student with valid ID $11; ages 6-18 $7.50; under 6 free. For more information, visit www.michenerartmuseum.org or call 215-340-9800.