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One hundred years after founding, Memorial Art Gallery explores how memory shapes identity
William Christenberry, Red Building In Forest, Hale County, Alabama (1994). Pigment print. Courtesy of the artist and Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York.
ROCHESTER, NY.- Mem · or · y the · atre N. Device or technique designed to aid memory which involves mentally walking through an imagined room or a building and assigning objects to be remembered to specific locations. Developed in 5th-century Greece and perfected in Renaissance Italy. Also known as “memory palace.”

A major exhibition celebrating the Memorial Art Gallery’s 100th anniversary opens October 9, 2013 at the Gallery and remains on view through December 29. Memory Theatre 2013 brings together historical and contemporary objects that explore how memory shapes both personal and cultural identities, and the ways in which museums function as “memory theatres.”

The objects on view, both historical and contemporary, include works in many media from MAG and other public and private collections. Among the artists represented are Barton Beneš, David Maisel, Will Barnet, William Christenberry, Nathan Lyons, Armelle Le Roux, Ori Gersht, Robert Polidori and Judith G. Levy.

How do you define memory?
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, memory is the “mental faculty of retaining and recalling past experience; the ability to remember.” And that’s just the first of 10 definitions, including some unknown before the computer age.

Memory links us to our past and helps us imagine our future. It allows us to honor individuals like James G. Averell, the gifted young architect to whom MAG is dedicated. It transports us across space and time, reminds us of what we hold dear, and sometimes (but not always) helps us avoid past mistakes. It’s not always reliable, and when it disappears—whether through trauma, disease or aging—it alters our very being.

One hundred years after Averell’s mother, Emily Sibley Watson, founded the Gallery, this exhibition celebrates the role of museums as memory theatres that help us preserve our cultural identity.

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October 10, 2013

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One hundred years after founding, Memorial Art Gallery explores how memory shapes identity

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