photo by Jeff Hurwitz
A Legacy Preserved: The First Decade of Collecting at the Michener Art Museum
For the past ten years, the James A. Michener Art Museum has been a living, growing part of the community, and has prepared a new exhibition to commemorate its first decade. Highlights of the museum's ongoing efforts to build its collection of the finest regional art will be on display in "A Legacy Preserved: The First Decade of Collecting at the Michener Art Museum," being presented from Sept. 26, 1998 through March 7, 1999.
Shortly after the opening in 1988, the museum's leadership established the ambitious goal of becoming the most important repository of the work of the Bucks County region's visual artists; and in ten years has made remarkable progress towards this goal. Says Bruce Katsiff, director of the museum, "When people look at the museum, they can see we have made a great deal of progress. The real measure of the institution's success, in large part, can be made by evaluating this exhibition."
"A Legacy Preserved" features some of the most important objects acquired in the Michener's first decade and includes work by many of the county's best-known historic and contemporary artists. It showcases a variety of paintings, sculpture, photographs, and other forms of art by more than 50 artists. The focus of the exhibition is concentrated in the CoreStates Gallery-many of these works have never been exhibited before at the museum-and major acquisitions hanging throughout the other galleries are identified as part of the exhibition by special labels.
Highlights of the exhibition include the museum's newest acquisition,'The Burning of Center Bridge," by Edward Redfield ; Daniel Garber etchings and his 22-foot semi-circular mural, "A Wooded Watershed"; a portrait of Edward Hicks by his cousin Thomas Hicks; and the eye-catching 65 x 77 inch painting, ~The Twins: Virginia and Jane," by Joseph Pearson. Also included are the work of major contemporary artists from the county, such as Selma Bortner's "Aida and the Serpent"; Paul Keene's "Street Quartet"; and Katharine Steele Renninger's "Morrell's Spinning Wheel and Wool Winder".
Many of these exhibited works have been acquired through gifts and donations from people in the community, particularly during the Michener Art Endowment Challenge, initiated by the author in 1992. 'The idea was, build a museum and the community will fill it," says Katsiff. No museum can build a collection exclusively from donations, however. Therefore, the museum has made careful purchases in the past decade to add to its collection. In many of these cases, funding has been raised through community support. In fact, three of the most significant works in this exhibition--the Redfield painting, the Garber mural, and the Hicks portrait-have been purchased.
From top to bottom: George Sotter, Buckingham Mountain,
n.d., oil on canvas, James A. Michener Art Museum, gift of Charles W. Hargens,
Jr.; Selma Bortner, Aida and the Mirror, 1991, James A. Michener
Art Museum, purchased with funds froman anonymous donor from the Bucks Biennial
For further biographical information on selected artists cited in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.
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