“This multi-year partnership is a rare opportunity and one which we plan to fully embrace to bring new meaning to our outstanding American collection.”
—Heather Haskell, Director of Art Museums and Vice President of the Springfield Museums
The Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts of the Springfield Museums is one of four museums throughout the region that will benefit from a Terra Foundation for American Art grant received by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston MFA).
The Boston MFA will share works from its Art of the Americas collection with four partner museums across the Northeast through the new Terra-Art Bridges program. This initiative is made possible by a grant of nearly $2 million awarded to the Boston MFA by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Curators from the Boston MFA will collaborate with colleagues from the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts (Springfield, Mass.), Fenimore Art Museum (Cooperstown, N.Y.), Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute (Utica, N.Y.) and the Mattatuck Museum (Waterbury, Conn.) to co-organize a series of traveling exhibitions over the next six years, drawing on the combined breadth and depth of the museums’ holdings and encouraging engagement with American art within different communities. The project will launch later in 2018, with each of the four partners displaying an artwork on loan from the Boston MFA’s collection. The Boston MFA and the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) are the first museums to receive Terra-Art Bridges grants as part of this $15 million initiative to examine and test new approaches to sharing collections, increasing scholarship, and expanding access to and experiences of American art.
“The Springfield Museums are honored to engage in an exciting new partnership with the Boston Museum of Fine Arts as well as three renowned art museums in New England funded by the Terra/Art Bridges Initiative,” said Kay Simpson, President of the Springfield Museums. “The timing of the collaboration coincides with a period of tremendous growth and heightened visibility for the Springfield Museums and we are well positioned to leverage the access to American art collections and resources that the multi-year partnership will bring to our expanding audiences.”
Launched in 2017 by the Terra Foundation with financial support from Art Bridges, Inc., Terra-Art Bridges is a six-year initiative that will establish collaborations among a wide range of institutional partners across the U.S., creating a network that is expected to generate exhibitions at more than 80 museums and arts venues throughout the country and serve a spectrum of audience interests and needs.
“We are excited to be working with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to launch our new initiative for sharing, co-organizing and presenting exhibitions of American art,” said Elizabeth Glassman, President & CEO of the Terra Foundation for American Art. “The project funded as part of Terra-Art Bridges will address museums’ crucial needs in audience engagement by supporting research and experimentation in collections sharing, exhibition development and staff professional development. We look forward to seeing the innovative projects from our partners in Boston and across the country.”
The Boston MFA’s four partner museums were chosen for their collection strengths: the D’Amour Museum has an excellent collection of American paintings and works on paper; the Fenimore has depth in Native American objects and folk art; the Munson-Williams-Proctor in period rooms and 20th-century modernism; and the Mattatuck in 20th-century design and ephemera.
Thomas Hart Benton Masterpiece to Come to Springfield Museums
In the first phase of the project, the Boston MFA will loan a painting to each of the four partner institutions. New England Editor (1946) by Thomas Hart Benton (1889–1975) is a portrait of the artist’s friend George A. Hough, who is depicted writing the word “unless”—a reference to the editor’s legendary approach to journalism that unless the reporter had exhausted all possible sources, the story was not ready to hand in. The painting will be the centerpiece of an exhibition at the D’Amour Museum, on view from June 19, 2018 through December 30, 2018, exploring Benton’s expressive narrative style and larger interest in capturing contemporary American life. The painting will be displayed together with works on paper, also by Benton, from the D’Amour Museum’s collection.
“We anticipate finding unexpected connections between our collection and that of the Boston Museum of Fine Art,” said Heather Haskell, Director of Art Museums and Vice-President of the Springfield Museums. “We look forward to revealing these discoveries to our audience and community.”
The monumental scene of the Expulsion from the Garden of Eden (1828) by Thomas Cole (1801–1848) will be the centerpiece of an exhibition at the Fenimore, on view from May 25, 2018 through September 30, 2018, that will bring together works by the artist and members of his circle, including New Yorkers Aaron Burr and James Fenimore Cooper. Icebergs (1863) by Cole’s student Frederic Edwin Church (1826–1900) is a small painting that masterfully captures a grand subject: the vivid reflections of sunlight off the surface of an iceberg. It will be on display at the Mattatuck from June 24, 2018 through September 2, 2018, alongside other works inspired by the Connecticut native’s travels to the Arctic. A loan for Munson-Williams-Proctor will be selected at a later date. Curators from all five museums will meet throughout 2018, working together on ideas for forthcoming exhibitions.
“We’re thrilled to collaborate with and learn from colleagues at our four partner museums, as well as expand the impact of the MFA’s collection by sharing our great American artworks with audiences beyond Boston,” said Elliot Bostwick Davis, John Moors Cabot Chair, Art of the Americas.
The second phase of the project will entail the creation of several small-scale exhibitions, featuring objects drawn from the Boston MFA’s collection, that will be developed with and displayed at each of the partner institutions. The third and final phase of the project will culminate in two larger-scale exhibitions drawing from the collections of all participating museums. Throughout this process, curators will pay special attention to how exhibition content, organization and installation should change between venues to ensure relevance for different audiences.
“We are so excited to be building a bridge between the collections in Boston and in Springfield!’ said Maggie North, Assistant Curator for Art from the Springfield Museums, “We anticipate that our collections, staff, and visitors will learn and grow through this partnership.”