Abington Art Center
|Location||Montgomery County, Pennsylvania|
|Type||Contemporary art museum|
|Director||Betsy Weand-Kilkenny, Executive Director|
Abington Art Center, located in Abington Township, a northern suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is a non-collecting contemporary art museum located in a 1939 manor house with exhibition galleries and a sculpture park. Abington Art Center's mission is to cultivate the power of the arts – inspiring individuals and strengthening community. The Art Center supports its mission through rotating exhibitions of contemporary artists, a studio school for visual arts and dance, community education programs, and public events at its Jenkintown cultural campus, the 27-acre (11 ha) woodland Sculpture Park.
The Abington Art Center originally began life as the Old York Road Art Guild by a group of woman who believed in the "benefit of cultural enrichment for individual and community life to be derived from creative artistic expression." In 1965 the guild's educational elements were brought under a separate non-profit entity called Abington Art Center. Further to this, on Christmas Day 1969, a rare book and print collector, Lessing J. Rosenwald and his wife Edith, donated their estate, Alverthorpe Manor, to the Abington community for the purpose of allowing residents to gather for cultural and recreational purposes. Shortly afterwards, the organization appointed its first paid director and the guild formally ended.
In 1981, Abington Art Center expanded into the old gallery wing of Alverthorpe Manor when the Rosenwald Collection was moved to the Library of Congress and National Gallery in Washington, D. C. This doubled the instruction space as well as the center's student capacity. Over time the organization grew, and a nationally recognized sculpture garden was opened in 1990. In 1996, the Art Center expanded within the building and initiated a 5-year renovation project designed to transform Alverthorpe Manor from a private residence to a public place. Currently, the center contains a gallery, six studios, classrooms, and a sculpture park, and stages outdoor events throughout the year.
Art exhibitions and community outreach
The Abington Art Center has been described as having a "proven ability to retain its diversity, exhibit formats, and professional standards." The center has promoted the work of local artists, like Cynthia Back, Bruce Campbell and Mickie Rosen, and provided a platform for their work. The 27 acres (110,000 m2) of lawn and woodlands that make up the sculpture park includes works by Joy Episalla, Robert Lawrance Lobe, Jeanne Jaffe, Thomas Matsuda, Brian McCutcheon, Steven Siegel, Steve Tobin, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Jay Walker, and A Reclamation Garden by Winifred Lutz.
In 2003, Abington Art Center devised a plan for the purposes of developing Alverthorpe Manor property into a 27-acre "cultural campus" within a suburban community. The plan was developed by Wallace Roberts & Todd. Leora Brecher, a sculptor who taught ceramics at the Center for 18 years, said, "It's different here compared to other art centers I've seen. As well as a studio school, it has the sculpture garden and outreach to the community. Other places are more about teaching than the public." The center has hosted the annual "Touch the Future" juried art show, featuring the work of young artists from the area. In 2005, the center received a $500,000 pledge of a matching grant from the state of Pennsylvania, with the objective of assisting the economic development goals of the surrounding municipalities. The first phase of development was completed in 2011.
Abington Art Center is a small nonprofit organization with an estimated budget of less than $1 million. Former executive director Laura Burnham has said, "We don't have an endowment. Like most Americans, we have to live on what we earn." The Art Center's income is derived from a variety of sources, breaking down approximately as follows: classes, workshops, and facility rentals for weddings and other affairs (38 percent); foundations (24 percent); membership duees (11 percent); corporate and government support (9 percent); and gift shop sales, fund-raisers and other sources (18 percent).
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- Scavuzzo, Sam Fran (25 April 2009). "'Give people a creative, personal experience' The Abington Art Center, turning 70, deals with recession.". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
- Donohoe, Victoria (1 May 2009). "Abington Art Center celebrates with its own". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
- "Abington Art Center". philagrafika2010. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
- "Abington Art Center Hosts 24th Annual Touch the Future Exhibit". CBS Philly. Retrieved 22 December 2013.