CORNING, N.Y. (January 8, 2016) – The Rockwell Museum is turning 40 in 2016 and a top-to-bottom transformative project has begun! For the first time in 15 years and timed to coincide with a milestone year, The Rockwell has plans to reinstall every gallery, create a new visitor check-in area, revitalize the museum store and curate a new introductory gallery that explains museum origins. Galleries are being organizing with updated themes – with a shift in focus from the West to the American experience. Coming off the most recent announcement of being named the only Smithsonian Affiliate in Upstate NY, 2016 is planned to be a milestone year at The Rockwell.
The Rockwell collection is comprised of great American paintings, drawings, works on paper, Native American ethnographic objects, American illustrations, modern and contemporary art (post-war to present day), photography, arms and armor and works by celebrated western artists. With some 3,000 objects between onsite display and storage, this reinterpretation comes at a time of celebration as the institution moves into its 40th year.
“A fresh approach to the permanent galleries at The Rockwell stems from the expansion of our mission statement – Art about the American Experience – in an effort to contextualize the core collection of American Western art. Each exhibition is inspired by our vision to challenge our visitor’s perspectives – to provoke curiosity – and to reflect and engage with art about America,” says Kristin Swain, Executive Director.
Visitors already have begun seeing new displays including some never-before-seen objects from collections storage as well as new acquisitions. The Southwest Lodge, formerly the Remington and Russell Lodge, opened in May and is now dedicated to the works of the Taos School of Artists, the Santa Fe School, and the native Pueblo artists of this dynamic region. Works by famed western artists, Remington and Russell, are now prominently displayed among other American masterworks on the third floor. In another new focus gallery, bookending a historic firearms exhibit, is the newly installed Wildlife Gallery. Featuring masterworks by historic American artists like Goodwin, Audobon and Rungius, this display captures the natural beauty of the American landscape.
An “American Illustrators” gallery opens January 8, 2016. Major groups represented include Remington and the first generation of frontier illustrators, artists of the Brandywine School, and the golden age of illustration. In March, a “Modern and Contemporary” gallery will open and will include contemporary Native American art as well as examples of modernism, abstraction, and pop art.
The main third floor gallery, the largest and most expansive display area, has begun its transformation. The “Visions of America” gallery pays homage to the great American masters like Bierstadt, Wyeth, Dallin, and Moran and their contemporaries. Landscape paintings, mostly created between 1825 and 1925, by early Hudson River School artists are displayed prominently on the north wall of the main gallery. As visitors move around the room, the works of art become a visual narrative of American settlement and the migration west – suggesting intimate themes of personal identity - including race, gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic level.
“Western art cannot be isolated from the larger context of American art and still maintain an authentic voice. It must be heard within the greater conversation or else lose meaning,” says Kirsty Buchanan, curator of collections for The Rockwell Museum. “All the works in The Rockwell hold a significant place in western art history, making them an important component of the larger American story. This new focus enables us to enhance the core collections while also upgrading featured exhibits and special programming.”
“The Rockwell Museum’s mission statement guides our curatorial focus towards art about the American experience, and these visions of America are curated to present a broad art historical context for each of the objects exhibited. Our vision charges us to provoke curiosity, ignite imagination, challenge perspective, and foster conversation through compelling exhibitions of art about America,” Buchanan adds.
A Native American gallery and an Iroquois gallery are slated to open in 2017.
“As we mark our 40th anniversary, we want to remind the public of all we have to offer,” Swain says. “We have fantastic exhibitions and programs planned for the year, including a community celebration. If you’ve never visited us before, we invite you to visit. And if you have, we hope to see you often in 2016. It will be a great year of American art.”
2016 ANNIVERSARY EXHIBITIONS AND PROGRAMS
Historic Photographs of Watkins Glen State Park
February 19 – December 31, 2016
Take a glimpse into the New York State Park archives through this installation of historic photographs of Watkins Glen. Prior to its current status as an award-winning state park, Watkins Glen has had many identities ranging from a mill stream to a Victorian resort.
Art of the National Parks: A Centennial Tour
February 19 – December 31, 2016
In recognition of the centennial of the National Park Service, visitors can navigate their way through a highlight tour of works in our permanent collection that depict the national parks, illustrating the role art has played in the creation of national park system. Featured works will be identifiable by the National Park Service centennial logo.
National Parks Experience: An Artful Exploration
Wednesday, September 28 - Sunday, October 2, 2016
Join The Rockwell for an insider tour celebrating the centennial of the National Park Service. This exclusive opportunity will allow participants to visit two of the most iconic national parks in person – Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Additionally, participants will gain access to world-renowned museums and private collections. Don’t miss this exclusive opportunity!
Tuesday, November 8 – Sunday, November 13, 2016
Every year, November 8, we celebrate Founder’s Day -- the birthday of our founding collector, Bob Rockwell. Bob’s desire to make the collection accessible to as many people as possible remains a guiding principle.
In recognition of The Rockwell’s 40th anniversary and Bob’s birthday, The Rockwell will be celebrating Founder’s Week from Tuesday, November 8 – Sunday, November 13. The Museum will be offering free admission to daily visitors all week long. In addition to complimentary admission, guests will have the opportunity to enjoy themed activities in the Family Exploration Studio, as well as a special 40th anniversary Rockwell Roadhouse on Thursday, November 10.
Rockwell Roadhouse is a high-energy live music series featuring regional Americana, folk, and rock bands, right in the lobby of The Rockwell Museum. Let off some steam from your work week at this energetic happy hour event, complete with cash bar and tasty hors d’oeuvres, setting the stage for a great night out in Downtown Corning. Art lovers are welcome to explore The Rockwell’s collection after-hours. Reservations are required for this fun experience with some of the region’s favorite groups.
# # #