Montclair Art Museum
|Montclair Art Museum|
|Established||Charter 1909, building opened 1914|
|Location||3 South Mountain Avenue in Montclair, N.J|
|Public transit access||NJ Transit (bus and rail), Walnut Street Station, DeCamp Bus Lines|
Montclair Art Museum
|Location||3 S. Mountain Avenue, Montclair, New Jersey|
|Architectural style||Classical Revival|
|NRHP Reference #||86002984|
|Added to NRHP||November 14, 1986|
The Montclair Art Museum (MAM) is one of the few museums in the United States devoted to American art and Native American art forms. The collection consists of more than 12,000 works. The American collection comprises paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, and sculpture dating from the 18th century to the present. The museum's holdings of traditional and contemporary American Indian art and artifacts represent the cultural achievements in weaving, pottery, wood carving, jewelry, and textiles of indigenous Americans from seven major regions—Northwest Coast, California, Southwest, Plains, Woodlands, Southeast, and the Arctic; the work of contemporary American Indian artists is also represented.
The museum has the only gallery in the world dedicated solely to the work of the 19th-century American painter George Inness, who lived in Montclair from 1885 to 1894 and painted in the area. The intimate George Inness Gallery displays selected works from the museum's 21 Inness paintings, two of his watercolors, and an etching by the artist. It also features the work of sculptor William Couper, who lived in Montclair until his death.
Artists in the collection include Tony Abeyta, Josef Albers, Milton Avery, Will Barnet, Romare Bearden, Thomas Hart Benton, Carl Borg, Margaret Bourke-White, Alexander Calder, Thomas Cole, Willie Cole, Stuart Davis, Willem de Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Elsie Driggs, Asher B. Durand, Thomas Eakins, Lee Friedlander, Arshile Gorky, Marsden Hartley, Robert Henri, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, George Inness, Ben Jones, Donald Judd, Helen Levitt, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Longo, Whitfield Lovell, Man Ray, Thomas Manley, Knox Martin, Ma-Pe-Wi, Robert Motherwell, Dan Namingha, Alice Neel, Louise Nevelson, Georgia O'Keeffe, Sarah Miriam Peale, Rembrandt Peale, Charles Willson Peale, Philip Pearlstein, Maurice Prendergast, Oscar Bluemner, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, Morgan Russell, John Singer Sargent, George Segal, Ben Shahn, Lorna Simpson, Jaune Quick-To-See Smith, Joseph Stella, Kay WalkingStick, Andy Warhol, Max Weber, and James Abbott McNeill Whistler.
The museum opened its doors in 1914, thanks to the donations of artwork and funding of its two founders, Montclair residents William T. Evans, civic leader and art collector, and heiress Florence Osgood Rand Lang. William T. Evans also donated works that helped seed the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
During the late 19th century, the bucolic town of Montclair evolved into a lively community of artists and collectors. Among its most prominent inhabitants was one of America's greatest landscape painters, George Inness, who resided in Montclair between 1885 and his death in 1894, attracting a following of painters and sculptors and galvanizing the collective art consciousness that eventually gave birth to the museum. Others, such as the neoclassical sculptor William Couper, served on the town's Municipal Art Commission, established in 1908 to beautify Montclair and preserve the charm of a country town. Presiding over the commission was the civic-minded William T. Evans, a dry-goods magnate and prolific collector who had acquired the Montclair estate of George Inness, Jr., in 1900. Between the early 1880s and 1913, Evans purchased more than 800 American paintings, making his the largest collection of American art before World War I.
The American collection began with a gift of 36 paintings from Evans, including works by George Inness, Ralph Albert Blakelock, and Childe Hassam. He also contributed a sculpture, "The Sun Vow", by Hermon Atkins MacNeil, a signature piece for the museum. Situated at the circle at MAM's front entrance since 1914, the sculpture blends Native American and American themes.
Montclair resident Florence Rand Lang was inspired by Evans and the promise of a local museum, as well as by the potential opportunity to honor her mother, Annie Valentine Rand, a collector of Native American art. The Rand Collection given at that time encompassed several hundred objects, including baskets, clothing, jewelry, and household items that reflect the vitality and traditions of Native American cultures.
Architect Albert R. Ross, who designed many Carnegie libraries, the Pueblo County Courthouse in Colorado, and contributed to the design of McKim, Mead & White's Milwaukee County Courthouse, was hired by museum trustee Michel Le Brun to design the Beaux Arts building. As the collection has grown, so too has the building housing it. The museum underwent renovations in 1924, 1931 and 2000-2001. The recent renovation doubled the museum's square footage, with architectural firm Beyer Blinder Belle at the helm.
In 2008 and 2009, the museum lost a significant portion of its endowment when the U.S. stock markets collapsed and contributions dried up. The endowment fell from $8 million to $6 million from July 1, 2008 to April 17, 2009. As a result, MAM cut its staff from 57 to 44 positions in the nine months up to April 2009, cut the hours of the remaining employees to four days a week, closed its administrative offices on Mondays, all of which the museum estimated would save $500,000 and leaving the museum with an annual operating budget of about $4 million. The museum also started a new fundraising campaign with the goal of bringing MAM's endowment to $15 million by 2015. The museum also announced a deaccession program in which it would sell its collection of costumes, rug collection, books and "selected works from storage that are duplicative, of lesser quality than objects already in our collection by the same artist, or are not consistent with the collecting mission of the museum." Museum officials said they hoped to raise $3 million to $5 million with the sale of about 50 items. Money earned from the sales would be put in a special fund for new purchases.
In January 2009, the museum announced it had transferred most of its LeBrun Library to the Harry A. Sprague Library at Montclair State University, a public institution that accepts library cards from public libraries in Essex and Passaic counties.
In 2009, the museum and the Baltimore Museum of Art organized the exhibition "Cézanne and American Modernism," with 131 items, including 18 works by Cézanne. In a news release, MAM called the show "the largest, most ambitious exhibition in the 95-year history of the museum." After appearing in Montclair, the exhibition traveled to the Baltimore Museum of Art, and in late 2010 the Phoenix Art Museum.
The museum's educational programs serve a wide public from toddlers to senior citizens. Collaborations with numerous cultural and community partners bring artists, performers, and scholars to the museum on a regular basis. MAM’s Yard School of Art is a regional art school offering an array of classes for children, youth, adults, seniors, and professional artists.
- Montclair Art Museum: About, ARTINFO, 2008, retrieved 2008-07-21
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
- Web page titled "George Inness Gallery" at the Montclair Art Museum website, retrieved December 18, 2012
- News release, "The Montclair Art Museum Launches Financial Security Plan", April 17, 2009, Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, N.J., retrieved December 18, 2009
- Montclair Art Museum: Selected Works.
- News release in a "question-and-answer format, "Financial Security Plan", April 17, 2009, Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, N.J., retrieved December 18, 2009
- Web page titled "LeBrun Library" at the Montclair Art Museum website, retrieved December 23, 2009
- News release, "Montclair Art Museum Presents First Exhibition to Explore the Influence of Cezanne in Early 20th-Century American Art", August 18, 2009, Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, N.J., retrieved December 18, 2009