Long recognized for its substantial and important American art collection, the Colby College Museum of Art
will become the largest art museum in Maine, and confirm its status as one of the nations premier institutions of American art, with the opening on July 13, 2013, of the Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion. Inaugural exhibitions at the expanded museum will focus on the recently donated Lunder Collection, valued at more than $100 million, which is widely acknowledged as one of the most important holdings of American art ever assembled by private collectors. These works will now join the museums existing collection, which ranges from Colonial era portraits to contemporary works by Richard Serra, Sol LeWitt, Kara Walker and Alex Katz.
Designed by the distinguished Los Angeles-based firm Frederick Fisher and Partners Architects, the 26,000-square-foot pavilion will create a light-filled gateway to the existing museum and serve as a beacon for Maine residents and visitors, while providing an additional 10,000 square feet of exhibition space.
Until now, said Colby President William D. Adams, our museum may have been something of an underappreciated gemthough not to our students, faculty and alumni and the citizens of Maine, who have embraced it as one of their finest resources. But now, as we celebrate the bicentennial of the college, we can look forward as never before to welcoming visitors from around the country and the world who are going to discover that our museum has risen toward the top in its field.
Sharon Corwin, the Carolyn Muzzy Director and Chief Curator of the Colby College Museum of Art, said, Maine has always had a special place in the history of American art, just as this museum has won the loyalty of a wide spectrum of people, from schoolchildren in Waterville to some of Americas most outstanding contemporary artists. Because of this wide support and the contributions of our generous donors, the cultural map of Maine, and indeed America, is now about to change.
Located near the Belgrade Lakes region and about an hour from Portland and from Maines mid-coast, the museum is part of a ring of Maine cultural sites that stretch from the Winslow Homer Studio in Prouts Neck to the offshore artists colonies of Vinalhaven and Monhegan islands. The museum is also near the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and from its inception has shared a close relationship with the school. The opening of the new pavilion in July 2013 will make the expanded museum more attractive than ever for Maine residents and visitors alike.
The Lunder Collection comprises more than 500 objects, 464 of them by American masters including John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, George Inness, William Merritt Chase, Winslow Homer, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Edward Hopper, Alexander Calder and Georgia OKeeffe, as well as important contemporary American works by Alex Katz, Louise Nevelson, Romare Bearden, Donald Judd, John Chamberlain, George Rickey and Jenny Holzer, among others. The collection includes a remarkable concentration of works by James McNeill Whistler, including the painting Chelsea in Ice (1864), almost two dozen more paintings, watercolors and pastels, and an astonishing group of 201 etchings and lithographs, accompanied by some 150 books, journals, photographs and archival materials related to Whistler. The Lunder Collection also includes 40 exceptional examples of Chinese ritual and mortuary ceramics dating from the prehistoric period to the Jin Dynasty (1126-1234), which complement the museums existing holdings in Chinese ceramics.
The donation of the Lunder Collection was announced as a promised gift in 2007. In 2009, the College approved the designs for the Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion, named in recognition of a gift from the Harold Alfond Foundation and the partnership and friendship between Harold Alfond and Peter Lunder. The museum formally took possession of the works in the Lunder Collection in September 2012, as construction was proceeding on the pavilion.
Refined and minimalist in design, the glass pavilion completes a circuit with the three existing wings of the museum, unifying them and contrasting with the Georgian-style brick architecture that is found elsewhere throughout the campus. The pavilion will now be the main entrance to the museum, providing a spacious lobby that will include a sculpture gallery and terrace, as well as new exhibition galleries, classrooms, a conference room and staff offices. A glass-enclosed stairwell will be installed with a monumental, three-story wall drawing by Sol LeWitt, which will be visible from a distance to visitors arriving on the campuss main thoroughfare. The pavilions upper floor is dedicated to the colleges art department, providing new studios for photography and fine art foundation classes, faculty offices, and a student lounge.
This new pavilion is conceived as a glass prism that will reflect its natural and architectural context in continuously changing images, said architect Fredrick Fisher. The reflecting nature of the glass expresses the theme that art provides the opportunity to reflect on life. This was central to the museums position as a beacon of creativity and innovation on campus.
The inaugural exhibition in the new Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion will be The Lunder Collection: A Gift of Art to Colby College. Also on view at the time of the opening will be a special exhibition of early works of Chinese art drawn from the museums Lunder-Colville Collection of Chinese Art and from loans from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Other exhibitions will include recent acquisitions from the Alex Katz Foundation and works from the museums extraordinarily rich holdings of John Marins work, shown alongside contemporaneous photographs from the Norma B. Marin Photography Collection.