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The Montclair Art Museum to celebrate 100th anniversary; Plans include transformation of the museum grounds
Artist's rendering of the Montclair Art Museum from 1913. Featured in the Montclair Times on Saturday, July 5, 1913 to celebrate the laying of the Museum's original cornerstone.

MONTCLAIR, NJ.- On January 15, 1914, the Montclair Art Museum opened its doors for the first time to the public. Starting this fall and continuing throughout the following year, the Museum will celebrate that moment with a wide variety of events and activities.

According to MAM Director Lora Urbanelli, the year will touch on all aspects of the Museum, celebrating its history as well as anticipating an energized future, all the while emphasizing its connections to the community, both locally and regionally. “We connect with our audiences in so many ways—through our art school, public programs, exhibitions, and civic engagement—and we want this very special year to reflect all those connections. Our Museum has grown over time, evolving along with its audience. We now have 70,000 visitors annually. Last year, we inaugurated Free First Thursday Nights, which brought in even more new visitors; we plan to use that same format for our Birthday Party next January.”

Urbanelli also noted that in the fall the Museum will install the first in what it hopes to be a series of commissioned works for a redesigned outdoor sculpture garden. “The first sculpture, by the artist Jean Shin, will be fabricated from metal forks, knives, and spoons donated largely by visitors from the region, and will take the form of three sections of a tree, a trunk, a stump, and branches, evoking themes of food, the importance of our natural surroundings, and the shared rituals of friends and family—all of which have a special resonance in Montclair. It’s important to us that this first piece will have such an intimate connection with the community and will be displayed in an area in the front of the Museum where everyone can enjoy it. Overall, it’s our goal to revive MAM’s beautiful landscape, offering an outdoor community art experience and gathering space. It’s also our hope that this outdoor transformation will encourage more public art in the Town of Montclair. The town is already known as an arts destination—having even more visible examples of art can help make that reputation come alive for residents and visitors alike.”

Exhibitions for the year, in honor of the Centennial, will showcase the Museum’s collections and underscore its ties to New Jersey.

A complete listing of Centennial-related events and exhibitions will be regularly updated on the Museum website. Following are a few of the highlights:

• A Centennial-related exhibition and a new permanent installation will both premiere on September 22. Looking Forward: Gifts of Contemporary Art from Patricia A. Bell pays tribute to this South Orange, NJ, resident whose gifts of art to MAM have helped to develop the Museum’s contemporary art collection into a significant reflection of the current art world since the 1990s. Additionally, a major new outdoor sculpture by the artist Jean Shin, titled Host, will be unveiled.

• Let your voice be heard! 100 Years, 100 Voices, a crowdsourced audio-tour project, invites members of the community to comment on their favorite work in the Centennial exhibition 100 Works for 100 Years. Visitors will be able to access the commentary through the Museum’s cellphone audio-tour. To find out more about how to participate, please contact Petra Pankow, MAM education director, at

• A 100 Day Countdown begins October 7, leading up to MAM’s birthday on January 15. The Museum in partnership with Montclair businesses will offer discounts and coupons at Montclair restaurants and boutiques. Follow the countdown on MAM’s website for art projects, MAM facts, Museum events, and more.

• MAM welcomes University of San Francisco professor Marjorie Schwarzer, a prolific writer and engaging commentator on issues affecting museums and author of Riches, Rivals and Radicals: 100 Years of the Museum in America, on Thursday, October 10, to deliver the 27th Annual Julia Norton Babson Lecture.

• A Halloween party fundraiser, “Fright Night at the Museum,” will take place Saturday, October 19, 7:30 p.m.–11 p.m.

• On Wednesday, January 15, the community is invited to celebrate MAM’s birthday with a free evening at the Museum. Just as on our Free First Thursday Nights, the evening will include a unique mix of dynamic programming, live music, tours, and a full-service cash bar in partnership with Egan & Sons. A special program in the auditorium will honor the Museum and its friends. 100 Works for 100 Years: A Centennial Celebration, a collection-based exhibition, will also be fully unveiled this evening. Visitors can participate in the Centennial Lounge, where they can vote for their favorite works, comment on their selections, and learn more about MAM’s history. The top chosen community favorites will be placed on exhibition at a later date to be determined in 2015.

• Robert Smithson’s New Jersey will open February 22. One of the founders of the art form known as earthworks, or land art, the Passaic-born Smithson (1938–1973) remains one of the most influential and original artists of his generation and after. When the range of his New Jersey–based works are placed together on exhibition, it will be clear that the Passaic/Clifton/Montclair area was as integral to his career as were Winslow Homer’s Maine and Andrew Wyeth’s Chadds Ford. Smithson is perhaps best known for Spiral Jetty, 1970, located in the Great Salt Lake, Utah.

• April 20–26 will feature a weeklong Centennial Celebration, including an Art in Fashion exhibition and luncheon, and a Centennial Ball.

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August 28, 2013

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