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Hamilton College opens new Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art
Art handlers at the Wellin Museum install a wing from a sixteenth-century Austrian altarpiece. Photo by John Bentham. Courtesy of the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art.

CLINTON, NY.- The Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art, a Machado and Silvetti-designed teaching museum, opened at Hamilton College on October 4, 2012. The 30,537-square-foot museum puts object-based learning at the fore, promoting interdisciplinary research and the cross-fertilization of concepts and ideas vital to a liberal arts education. The museum also invites emerging and established artists to develop projects specifically for the museum.

“The Wellin Museum is a new model for the museum of the future,” said the Wellin’s founding director Tracy Adler. “At the core of our mission are exploration and experimentation. The museum is designed to be a teaching tool and a laboratory, with multiple spaces for engagement, from open archives to flexible gallery space, two seminar rooms, and a smart classroom. The Wellin provides a unique opportunity for students to develop critical thinking, aesthetic discernment, and creative expression and build new bridges between disparate ideas and schools of thought. We look forward to collaborating with faculty in diverse areas of study on exhibitions and events.”

Designed by Machado and Silvetti Associates and overseen by partner-in-charge Rodolfo Machado, the museum is entered through a striking 27-foot-high archive hall that serves as visible storage for a majority of the museum’s permanent collection. A 6,200-square-foot flexible, exhibition space hosts two major exhibitions each academic year and provide space for frequently rotating exhibitions that serve the Hamilton community. A second-floor lounge overlooks an exterior sculpture court and offer a gathering place for communal interaction and exchange.

“The Wellin is a unique museum. It gives form to the specific pedagogy that characterizes the teaching of art history at the College,” said Rodolfo Machado the partner in charge. “We built open archives in the lobby so that students at one glance can see a wide scope of artistic production. As they move through this space, they will move through the collection of art objects in an intimate and personal way.”

Demonstrating the Wellin’s interdisciplinary and liberal arts focus, the museum’s first exhibition charts an exploratory path among art history, traditional history, astronomy, astrophysics, and many other disciplines. Affinity Atlas draws inspiration from the last work of the pioneering art historian Aby Warburg, who from 1924 to his death in 1929 worked on an ambitious cataloguing project—a map of the legacy of antiquity on Western culture. Drawing from the Wellin’s teaching collection, which spans thousands of years and diverse media, as well as from U.S. and international collections, the exhibition brings together prints, drawings, objects and sculptures to create juxtapositions that mirror Warburg’s own methodology. The exhibition runs from October 4, 2012 to April 7, 2013. It is organized by guest curator and consulting director Ian Berry, associate director for curatorial affairs and curator at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College.

The Wellin Museum is made possible by a $10 million lead gift from Wendy and Keith Wellin, a Hamilton alumnus from the class of 1950 and a retired Wall Street executive. The museum is named for Mr. Wellin’s parents.

The Wellin Museum is the first of two new buildings in a Machado and Silvetti designed arts complex. The second project, a theatre and studio arts building, will break ground in late July and open in Fall 2014. The complex incorporates the McKim, Mead and White-designed Molly Root House—the current home of the art history department—and a revitalized pond and landscape by Reed Hilderbrand Associates.

Today's News

October 8, 2012

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