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Envisioning New England: Treasures from Community Art Museums


Artistic treasures from New England's premier community art museums will be on view through March 21, 2004 in an exhibition that will be unveiled for the first time at the New Britain Museum of American Art.

The Consortium of New England Community Art Museums' Envisioning New England: Treasures from Community Art Museums is a traveling exhibition of 47 oil paintings from the collections of 14 of the region's top community art museums. An opening reception for the exhibition will be held from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 11, at the NBMAA. Upon closing in New Britain, the exhibition will travel to five other museums in the Consortium during the next two years.(right: George Bellows, Farm of John Tom, 1916, oil on canvas, 22 x 28 inches, courtesy of Art Complex Museum)

Included in Envisioning New England are works by George Inness, Albert Bierstadt, Martin Johnson Heade, Eastman Johnson, Julian Alden Weir, Childe Hassam, Henry Ward Ranger, Frank Weston Benson, George Bellows, Edward Hopper, Grandma Moses, Thomas Hart Benton and others.

The exhibition reveals 100 years of New England heritage as interpreted by artists through changing images of the landscape and its inhabitants. These paintings also reveal Connecticut history as a microcosm of the development of the nation as a whole.

Represented in the exhibition are works from the Mattatuck Museum, New Britain Museum of American Art, Florence Griswold Museum, and Lyman Allyn Art Museum in Connecticut; the Newport Art Museum in Rhode Island; the Bennington Museum in Vermont; and the Cape Museum of Fine Arts, Provincetown Art Association & Museum, Art Complex Museum, Fuller Museum of Art, Danforth Museum of Art, Fruitlands Museums, and the Fitchburg Art Museum in Massachusetts. (left: Martin Johnson Heade, Ipswich Marshes, 1867, oil on canvas, 12 x 28 inches, Stephen B. Lawrende Fund, Collection of the New Britain Museum of American Art)

The exhibition, arranged chronologically, will be broken into three themes: the Virtues of Rural Life, Art Colonies in New England, and Modern Voices on the New England Landscape.(left: Childe Hassam, Ten Pound Island, c. 1896-1899, oil on canvas, 20 x 24 inches, Florence Griswold Museum; Gift of The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company)

The concept for the exhibition was proposed by NBMAA Director Douglas Hyland, when he served as president of the Consortium of New England Museums a few years ago.

"When you consider that many of the members of the Consortium are among the oldest and finest institutions of their type in the country, it is understandable that the collections of these institutions are so strong and there is so much breadth and depth," Hyland noted. "In this, our 100th anniversary year, it is most fitting that the NBMAA should plan to showcase some of the most illustrious and eloquent of our nation's painters as they view our New England surroundings."

The Consortium's hope is that, through this exhibition and other cooperative ventures, each museum will become better known throughout the region and throughout the country. (right: Walter Lofthouse Dean, On the Deep Sea,1901, oil on canvas, 40 1/8 x 47 1/4 inches, Collection of the Farnsworth Art Museum)

Envisioning New England was curated by Nancy Whipple Grinnell, curator of the Newport Art Museum, and Jack Becker, former curator of the Florence Griswold Museum and now director of the Cheekwood Museum of Art.

Accompanying the exhibition is a catalogue published by the New England Press with an introduction by William H. Truettner, senior curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of American Art.


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