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Baltimore Museum of Art unveils renovation

By AMANDA AUBLE | November 13, 2014

As a feature of its 100th anniversary celebration, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) will reopen the historic Merrick Entrance and the renovated Dorothy McIlvain Scott American Wing to eager visitors on Sunday, Nov. 23.

“Reopening the historic entrance will be an extraordinary moment during the BMA’s centennial celebration,” said BMA Director Doreen Bolger in the the museum’s press release. “We are looking forward to throwing open the doors and welcoming visitors to a beautiful new presentation of our renowned American collection.”

Serving as the BMA’s original grand entrance from 1929 to 1982, the Merrick Entrance will finally once again welcome guests back inside the museum after 32 years of closure. Guests will be able to experience its authentically conserved façade and discover inviting, improved lighting. The refreshed entrance also compliments the newly opened American Art Wing.

The opening of this revitalized American Wing marks another milestone in the BMA’s total $28 million renovation aimed to present visitors with a lighter, more welcoming environment. The first phase was completed in November  of 2012 as the museum reopened its Contemporary Art Wing. In addition, the redesigned Zamoiski East Entrance, which includes a staircase made of imported Italian marble, opened in early October of 2014.

The renovation not only sheds light onto new pieces of art, but it also allows for new perspectives to be reflected and continue to develop as a result of a change in display. Individual curators were given the opportunity to explore their own perspectives on the artwork showcased as each curator involved redesigned a certain area of the museum from scratch. Curator of African Art Nichole Bridges was particularly excited by this project, as before the renovation the museum could only showcase just over 100 of its African art pieces.

Now, the museum can do its entire collection of over 2,000 works of art justice. When works of art are displayed in a particular fashion, the viewer is offered a fresh perspective and experiences the work of art in a new way. It is the curators’ hope that the renovation will offer community members an impactful aesthetic experience.

Dorothy Mcllvain Scott is a local philanthropist who donated $10 million to the BMA’s American Collection. The American Collection is an impressive one with works from the 1700s to the 1960s. It not only showcases the work of Maryland artists but also of artists from across the country. As a result, the exhibit is representative of notable artistic capabilities of the country throughout history.

“By expanding the approach to American art both geographically and chronologically, the BMA’s reinstallation highlights the deep ties between American art, our nation’s history, and the broader world,” BMA Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and American Painting & Sculpture David Park Curry said in the press release. “We hope visitors will be inspired by the stories contained in each of these incredible works of art, connecting the objects to the people who created and collected them.”

The American Wing encompasses 850 paintings, sculptures and decorative arts displayed throughout the second level of the museum’s original building. Notable pieces of this exhibit include nearly 50 new or rarely shown artworks, including Frederic Remington’s “Bronco Buster” (1906) as well as a large salon-hung gallery of art produced in Maryland, created by Maryland artists, of Maryland subjects or owned by Maryland collectors.

An example of a piece recently installed as a result of the renovation is the “Flower, Fish, and Fruit” stained glass, designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany and manufactured by the Tiffany Glass Company. The piece is particularly noticeable because of its incredible ability to use light in a variety of ways.

The central part of the piece is lightest, with blossoming flowers of light pinks and yellows. The edges of the piece are darker in color with deep blues and dabbles of red. The result is a voluptuous whole.

Tiffany’s ability to represent everyday objects in a beautiful way is central to his talent as an artist, and the decorative arts designer is well known for his influence on the Aesthetic and Art Nouveau movements. While he was originally trained as a painter, he became interested in glassmaking at a young age and quickly established his own firm to explore artistic endeavors which concerned themselves more with the decorative arts.

Tiffany was particularly moved by nature, and many of his pieces incorporate flowers and beautiful landscapes. Tiffany was able to create alluring objects for the home which were also affordable, allowing consumers at all income levels to participate in the collecting of art.

The final phase of the BMA’s multi-year renovation project will be marked by the reinstallation of the African and Asian art collections in April of 2015 and the opening of a new center for learning and creativity in October of 2015.

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