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Baltimore Museum of Art to celebrate 100th anniversary with grand reopening of historic entrance
Rendering of Baltimore Museum of Art Merrick Entry by Ziger/Snead Architects.

BALTIMORE, MD.- The Baltimore Museum of Art announces that after more than 30 years it will reopen the historic Merrick Entrance for visitors beginning on November 23, 2014, in celebration of the Museum’s 100th anniversary. This landmark event also heralds the reopening of the renovated Dorothy McIlvain Scott American Wing and a new presentation of the BMA’s outstanding collection of American fine and decorative arts, considered one of the finest on the East Coast. A dramatically redesigned East Wing Lobby and Zamoiski Entrance will reopen in fall 2014 as well.

The grand reopening is a significant milestone in the BMA’s $28 million renovation to provide visitors with a more welcoming environment and more imaginative and inspiring encounters with art. The first phase of the BMA’s ambitious multi-year renovation was realized when the Contemporary Wing reopened in November 2012. Since then, more than 92,000 people have visited the wing to see the museum’s significant collection of contemporary art and a series of focus exhibitions, installations, and programs highlighting works by Sarah Oppenheimer, Raqs Media Collective, Jimmy Joe Roche, An-My Lê, and others.

“The reopening of the BMA’s historic Merrick Entrance and the Dorothy McIlvain Scott American Wing will be an extraordinary moment in the museum’s distinguished history—bringing together museum-goers of all ages to experience John Russell Pope’s first vision of a great public art museum,” said BMA Director Doreen Bolger. “We are looking forward to celebrating the BMA’s 100th anniversary with many new and exciting experiences for our visitors.”

The final phase of the multi-year project will be completed with the reinstallation of the African and Asian art collections and the opening of a new center for learning and creativity in 2015.

Merrick Entrance
The grand entrance to the building designed by the great American architect John Russell Pope ushered generations of visitors into the museum from 1929 to 1982, and the reopening of this historic threshold reflects the BMA’s goal to foster more welcoming and memorable art experiences. The terrace steps leading up to the entrance will serve as a vibrant gathering place for visitors and the Baltimore community. The elegant façade is being conserved and will have improved lighting. The existing doors and vestibule will remain unchanged. A special $1 million gift from the France-Merrick Foundation is supporting this area of the renovation.

Dorothy McIlvain Scott American Wing
The reopening of the Merrick Entrance gives more prominence to the new presentation of the BMA’s outstanding American collection in the Dorothy McIlvain Scott American Wing. Visitors will enter a grand columned hall to view masterworks from the museum’s expansive holdings of American art in nine adjacent galleries. Renovations to major portions of the Pope-designed Beaux-Arts building—the architect’s first museum commission and the BMA’s largest work of art—include refurbishing the original chandeliers for the center hall, updating the galleries, and adding visitor amenities such as a new reception desk.

American Collection Reinstallation
The new presentation of the BMA’s American art collection will provide visitors with a global perspective of American art, history, and culture from the 18th century to the 1960s. Organized by BMA Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and American Painting & Sculpture David Park Curry, the reinstallation will feature hundreds of objects with decorative arts integrated with paintings and sculptures to demonstrate the social, economic, and cultural links between the two, often-separated disciplines. Special emphasis will be placed on telling the international story of American art by showing the influences of foreign travel, trade, and cultural exchange—particularly in Baltimore, which was a crossroads of global trade in the 18th century and a major economic and artistic center throughout the 19th century. Highlights include the BMA’s stunning collection of 19th- and 20th-century glass works by Louis Comfort Tiffany, a lavish walnut sideboard filled with pieces from President Rutherford B. Hayes’ state china service, and surprising juxtapositions of works such as Frederick Shirley’s “lava” glass Vase (c. 1878) that anticipates Jackson Pollock’s drip painting Water Birds (1943) by three quarters of a century. Among the new acquisitions making their debut with the reopening is a lifetime cast of Frederic Remington’s Bronco Buster (1906). Visitors will be able to explore everything on view in the American collection with BMA Go Mobile, a mobile-optimized website launched in 2012 that will be expanded with a rich selection of video, audio, and text content.

“The BMA’s emphasis on America’s participation in international art circles from the late 18th century forward will provide our 21st–century visitors with a more global view of American art throughout the galleries,” said Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and American Painting & Sculpture David Park Curry. “We are also looking forward to showing the significant achievements of Maryland artists and collectors.”

An Outstanding Collection of American Art
The BMA’s American art collection is one of the finest on the East Coast, consisting of more than 30,000 objects, including paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and decorative arts objects dating from the colonial era to the present. The painting collection ranges from 18th-century portraits and 19th-century landscapes to American Impressionism and modernism with works by John Singleton Copley, Thomas Eakins, Thomas Cole, John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam, and other acclaimed artists. Among the signature masterpieces that will be on view are Charles Willson Peale’s Mary Sterett (Mrs. Richard Gittings, Sr.) (1788), John Frederick Kensett’s View on the Hudson (1865), Theodore Robinson’s The Watering Place (1891), and Georgia O’Keeffe’s Pink Tulip (1926). The BMA’s holdings of American decorative arts include an extensive furniture collection that represents the major historic cabinetmaking centers of Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. An impressive silver collection includes objects by leading 18th- and early 19th-century silversmiths in Annapolis and Baltimore, as well as elegant examples of early English silver owned by Maryland families during the Federal era. Other notable aspects of the decorative arts collection include a rare set of five clerestory windows and two brilliant mosaic-clad architectural columns that represent Tiffany's lasting contribution to 20th-century ornament.

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