Memorial Art Gallery

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Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester
Memorial Art Gallery main gallery west side.JPG
South facade of the main gallery
Established 1913
Location 500 University Ave
Rochester, NY 14607
Coordinates 43°09′26″N 77°35′17″W / 43.157222°N 77.588056°W / 43.157222; -77.588056
Type Art museum
Collection size 11,000 works of art
Visitors 229,985 (2010 - 2011)
Director Jonathan P. Binstock
Public transit access Stop #3 (University Avenue/Prince Street)
RTS route 18/19 - 18X/19X University
Website http://mag.rochester.edu/

The Memorial Art Gallery is the civic art museum of Rochester, New York. Founded in 1913, it is part of the University of Rochester and occupies the southern half of the University's former Prince Street campus. It is the focal point of fine arts activity in the region and hosts the biennial Rochester-Finger Lakes Exhibition and the annual Clothesline Festival.

History[edit]

The Gallery is a memorial to James George Averell, a grandson of Hiram Sibley.[1] After Averell died at age 26, his mother, Emily S. Watson (by then the wife of James Sibley Watson), spent several years seeking a way to publicly commemorate him. Meanwhile Rush Rhees, president of the University of Rochester, had been looking for benefactors to help him add to the University's campus, then located on Prince Street in the City of Rochester. Hiram Sibley had some 30 years previous funded the construction of the University's library which displayed part of Sibley's art collection on its upper floor for a time, but Rhees wanted to construct a dedicated art gallery. The Rochester Art Club, which was the focal point for art enthusiasts of the area and which had exhibited and taught at art venues of the time (Reynolds Arcade, the Bevier Memorial Building, and the Powers Block) supported the creation of the gallery.[2] Rhees assembled a board of managers, including the Art Club's president, George L. Herdle, in November 1912 and by the eighth of the following October, presided over the Gallery's opening. The inaugural exhibition consisted of paintings from dealers for sale, with the Gallery taking a 10% commission.[3] The most wealthy families immediately gifted their purchases to the gallery to start its permanent collection.

The Gallery main entrance, also showing the Cutler Union

Exhibits in the early years of the Gallery consisted of loans from the private collections of George Eastman, the Sibleys, the Watsons, and other prominent Rochester families. Herdle labored mightily to keep the Gallery's walls filled with new works until his untimely death in 1922 at which point his daughter and University of Rochester graduate, Gertrude L. Herdle began what would become a 40 year career as the museum's director. Another daughter, Isabel C. Herdle, served in various curatorial roles beginning in 1932 after schooling at Radcliffe College, the Courtauld Institute of Art, and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and stints at the Fogg and the de Young museums.

Directors
Name Title Tenure Other affiliations
George L. Herdle Director April 16, 1914[4] – 1922 Rochester Art Club
Gertrude L. Herdle
(later Gertrude H. Moore)
Director 1923[5] – June, 1962 University of Rochester
Harris K. Prior Director 1962–1975 Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Museum
John A. Mahey Director October, 1975 – March 8, 1979 Cummer Art Gallery, Crocker Art Museum
Bruce W. Chambers Acting director March 9, 1979 – January 30, 1980 University of Iowa Museum of Art, Fashion Institute of Technology, Emory University, University of Rochester
A. Bret Waller Director January 31, 1980 – 1984 Michigan Museum of Art, J. Paul Getty Museum, Indianapolis Museum of Art
Grant Holcomb Director 1985 – July 1, 2014 Timken Gallery
Jonathan P. Binstock Director July 8, 2014 – present Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Corcoran Gallery of Art

In all of its years of operation, the Gallery has endured only two thefts:[6] During a 1927 Buddhist exhibition, a youth made off with a Tibetan banner on loan from a local family. Five years later,[7] after the youth had developed into a career fencer, police recovered the banner from his small apartment. Also, in 1978, someone pinched Picasso's Flowers in a Blue Vase during a busy Sunday afternoon; the painting found its way back to the Gallery within three weeks.

The Gallery, though sited on the University of Rochester's campus, existed as a separate organization from the University until 1935, when Alan Valentine renegotiated the 1912 charter.[8]

Today, the Gallery is supported primarily by its membership, the University of Rochester, and public funds from Monroe County and the New York State Council on the Arts.[9]

Collections[edit]

The Gallery's permanent collection comprises some 11,000 objects, including works by Monet, Cézanne, Matisse, Homer and Cassatt. Contemporary masters in the collection include Wendell Castle, Albert Paley and Helen Frankenthaler. Other notable works include:

  • Jean-Léon Gérôme's Interior of a Mosque, the only painting from Hiram Sibley's original collection still in the Gallery's possession
  • Egyptian and Eastern Mediterranean antiquities from the collection of Herbert Ocumpaugh, a 19th-century businessman
  • Near East antiquities from the collection of Edwin Barber Morgan's son
  • English and Continental silver from the 17th through 19th centuries from the collection of Ernest Woodward, heir to the Jell-O fortune
  • George Eastman's collection of about 60 Old Master, British, Dutch, American, and French Barbizon School paintings
  • El Greco's The Apparition of the Virgin to St. Hyacinth
  • Rembrandt's Portrait of a Young Man in an Armchair[10]
  • Portrait of Colonel Nathaniel Rochester
  • Woman in Red by Maud Humphrey. Her son, Humphrey Bogart, also loaned two of her sketches to a 1952 exhibition.
  • William Congdon Eiffel Tower #1, Marion Stratton Gould Fund
  • Milton Avery's Haircut by the Sea, donated by Roy Neuberger in 1963

The Gallery exhibited still photography and motion pictures until the 1949 opening of the George Eastman House.[11]

The Gallery began featuring arts and crafts of various immigrant groups starting in 1920, when a Homelands Exhibition was organized in Rochester's Exposition park for 10 days.[12] Director George Herdle organized local teams to solicit works from Rochester ethnic groups for the exhibition.

Community involvement[edit]

Besides hosting exhibitions, classes, and educational programs, the Gallery puts on such major events as the biennial Rochester-Finger Lakes Exhibition and the annual Clothesline Festival.

  • The Rochester-Finger Lakes Exhibition is a biennial competition for artwork from New York's 27 westernmost counties.[13] It is judged by guest jurors, which have included Charles E. Burchfield, John Bauer, former director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Thomas Messer, former director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Past winners include Wendell Castle, Albert Paley, Honoré Sharrer, Hans Christensen, Bill Stewart, Graham Marks, and Kathy Calderwood. It grew out of the Rochester Art Club's annual members-only exhibitions which were held in the Gallery starting in 1914, and became a separate event in 1938 under its current name.
  • The Clothesline Festival is an open-air exhibition where visitors buy artwork directly from New York state exhibitors and enjoy live entertainment and family activities.[14] The Gallery reluctantly initiated the Festival as an unjuried show in 1957,[15] and the Festival has consistently proved a crowd-pleaser as well as a means to bolster the Gallery's budget.

Facilities[edit]

The museum is located on the University of Rochester's former Prince Street campus and consists of the following structures:

Structures
Name Photo Description
Main gallery
The fountain court in the main gallery
Inspired by the Tempio Malatestiano (which Averell had sketched in a visit to Italy), it was primarily executed by John Gade, though Claude Bragdon was nominally involved. A 1926 expansion designed by Stanford White's son Lawrence White doubled the floor and wall space and added the Fountain Court as a venue for live music performances. The fountain was a 20th-century reproduction after Andrea del Verrocchio's Putto with Dolphin of the Palazzo Vecchio. It houses paintings by Baroque Period painters,including El Greco("Vision of Saint Hyacinth"),Paolo Paolini,Luca Giordano,Domenico Feti("Saint Stephen"),Claude Lorrain,Francesco Solimena,and Francesco Guardi.
1968 wing
The 1968 entrance—still used as an entrance for group tours
The 1968 wing was built as an expansion to provide more configurable exhibit space.[16] It opened in August 1968. It houses American Art, including paintings by John Singleton Copley, George Harvey, John Kensett, Lilly Martin Spencer, John Sloan (Chinese Restaurant), Milton Avery, Georgia O'Keeffe, Colin Campbell Cooper (Main Street Bridge, Rochester), Winslow Homer and Hans Hofmann.
The Cutler Union
The M&T Bank ballroom
Originally constructed as the women's student union for the University of Rochester, funded by a bequest from James Goold Cutler, it was first opened in September 1933.[17] The Gallery held classes in its basement for many years until the University gave it to the Gallery in 1987. It features a massive gothic spire.
The Vanden Brul pavilion
The Vanden Brul pavilion serves as a passage between the 1968 wing and the Cutler Union
An enclosed, skylit sculpture garden linking the 1968 wing to the Cutler Union, opened in May 1987, named for board member and donor Herbert W. Vanden Brul's parents[18]
The Gertrude Herdle Moore sculpture garden

See Also[edit]

List of university art museums and galleries in New York State

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brayer, Elizabeth (1988), MAGnum Opus: The Story of the Memorial Art Gallery, 1913 – 1988 (1 ed.), Rochester, New York: The Gallery, p. 2, ISBN 978-0-918098-02-3, OCLC 18496839 
  2. ^ "Think Gift and Site Admirable". Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. April 24, 1912. 
  3. ^ Brayer, Elizabeth (1988), MAGnum Opus: The Story of the Memorial Art Gallery, 1913 – 1988 (1 ed.), Rochester, New York: The Gallery, p. 26, ISBN 978-0-918098-02-3, OCLC 18496839 
  4. ^ Board of Managers, Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester (April 16, 1914). Minutes. 
  5. ^ Board of Managers, Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester (June 14, 1923). Minutes. 
  6. ^ Brayer, Elizabeth (1988), MAGnum Opus: The Story of the Memorial Art Gallery, 1913 – 1988 (1 ed.), Rochester, New York: The Gallery, p. 170, ISBN 978-0-918098-02-3, OCLC 18496839 
  7. ^ "Man is Arrested in Theft of Painting from Gallery". Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. November 16, 1932. 
  8. ^ Brayer, Elizabeth (1988), MAGnum Opus: The Story of the Memorial Art Gallery, 1913 – 1988 (1 ed.), Rochester, New York: The Gallery, p. 88, ISBN 978-0-918098-02-3, OCLC 18496839 
  9. ^ Public Relations Office (2010-10-10). "GALLERY FACT SHEET". Rochester, New York: Memorial Art Gallery. p. 1. Retrieved 2011-05-03. 
  10. ^ http://magart.rochester.edu/Obj5052.html
  11. ^ Brayer, Elizabeth (1988), MAGnum Opus: The Story of the Memorial Art Gallery, 1913 – 1988 (1 ed.), Rochester, New York: The Gallery, p. 106, ISBN 978-0-918098-02-3, OCLC 18496839 
  12. ^ Brayer, Elizabeth (1988), MAGnum Opus: The Story of the Memorial Art Gallery, 1913 – 1988 (1 ed.), Rochester, New York: The Gallery, p. 103, ISBN 978-0-918098-02-3, OCLC 18496839 
  13. ^ Public Relations Office (2009-08-10). "EXHIBITION FACT SHEET". Rochester, New York: Memorial Art Gallery. p. 2. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  14. ^ "Clothesline Art Festival". Rochester, New York: Memorial Art Gallery. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  15. ^ Brayer, Elizabeth (1988), MAGnum Opus: The Story of the Memorial Art Gallery, 1913 – 1988 (1 ed.), Rochester, New York: The Gallery, p. 99, ISBN 978-0-918098-02-3, OCLC 18496839 
  16. ^ Brayer, Elizabeth (1988), MAGnum Opus: The Story of the Memorial Art Gallery, 1913 – 1988 (1 ed.), Rochester, New York: The Gallery, p. 147, ISBN 978-0-918098-02-3, OCLC 18496839 
  17. ^ Brayer, Elizabeth (1988), MAGnum Opus: The Story of the Memorial Art Gallery, 1913 – 1988 (1 ed.), Rochester, New York: The Gallery, p. 63, ISBN 978-0-918098-02-3, OCLC 18496839 
  18. ^ Brayer, Elizabeth (1988), MAGnum Opus: The Story of the Memorial Art Gallery, 1913 – 1988 (1 ed.), Rochester, New York: The Gallery, p. 189, ISBN 978-0-918098-02-3, OCLC 18496839 

External links[edit]