The mission of the Museum of Art is to collect, preserve and exhibit art and artifacts of importance; to provide instruction, enrichment, and appreciation of these objects; and to facilitate an understanding of the various peoples and cultures that produced them.
A renowned art collection, fascinating exhibitions, and education programs for all ages are presented in a landmark 1960 International-style building designed by Philip Johnson (1906-2005) and in historic Fountain Elms, an 1850 Italianate mansion.
The Museum collection numbers approximately 15,000 works of art, the core of which is 19th-century through contemporary American fine arts and 19th-century American decorative arts.
The 19th-century painting collection has strengths in the Hudson River School and is known for its series of four paintings, “The Voyage of Life” by Thomas Cole, as well as holdings by Gilbert Stuart, Frederic Church, Asher B. Durand, and others.
The Modern and Contemporary collection is noteworthy for its works by Maurice Prendergast, Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollock, and Louise Bourgeois. In addition, the Museum has a distinguished group of paintings and sculptures by leading European Modernists, including Salvador Dali, Wassily Kandinsky, and Pablo Picasso.
The decorative arts collection is recognized for its objects by prominent cabinetmakers and silversmiths such as Anthony Quervelle, John Henry Belter, Alexander Roux, Herter Brothers, Gorham Mfg., and Tiffany & Co.
Fountain Elms features four mid 19th-century period room settings that showcase the finest in Victorian-era decorative arts, and has galleries that offer changing exhibitions of 19-century furniture, silver, ceramics, glass, textiles, and the renowned Proctor watch collection and modern and contemporary art.
Museum Engages Community through Innovative Program
This summer Museum Education Director April Oswald launched an innovative new program that has already received national attention. Ms. Oswald engaged adult refugees and immigrants taking English as a Second Language classes in the Utica City School District Adult Learning Center at the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees and invited them to take their Thursday morning classes at the Museum of Art. These classes are part of a program called Shared Traditions, which received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works and M&T Bank/Partners Trust Charitable Fund. Each class spent an hour in The Golden Age of European Painting exhibition discussing the three major themes of the program: adornment, ritual, and place. These themes were selected to collectively consider wide-ranging cultural experiences, i.e., those of 17th-and 18th- century Europe, and those of present-day immigrants and refugees from Sudan, Myanmar, Nepal, Belarus, and elsewhere.
Hour two of the program was led by photographer Sylvia de Swaan, who discussed her work and the work of other photographers. As a refugee herself, de Swaan fled Romania as a child during WWII. This experience, and her subsequent travel, homes, and return to her birthplace, is the subject of her work. Program participants were given cameras and photographic assignments with themes similar to those discussed in the meetings.
A second term of the program begins in February 2015, in conjunction with an exhibition consisting of artworks from the Museum’s collection and from loans. The program participants’ photos and narratives will be an essential component of the Shared Traditions exhibition opening in February.
Museum of Art Receives Prestigious Grant
The Museum of Art was awarded $100,029 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Core Collections Digitization & Dissemination Project. The grant will fund the creation of 2,000 new digital images of artworks in the Museum’s permanent collection and make them available online as an educational resource reaching the widest possible audience.
“We are delighted to be a recipient of this IMLS grant,” said Anna D’Ambrosio, Museum of Art Director. “It will enable the Museum to make our renowned collections more widely accessible and known. The images will be viewed internationally and used by art enthusiasts, classroom teachers, and researchers, among many others.” Educational texts will accompany the digital images, and the grant will also help to fund a new program that will make the images and text available to anyone with computer access.
“Our grants are highly competitive. The Institute of Museum and Library Services enlists hundreds of library and museum professionals throughout the United States to review grant applications and make recommendations on projects most worthy of funding,” said IMLS Director Susan H. Hildreth. “Receiving a grant from IMLS is a significant achievement, and we congratulate Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute for being among the 2014 IMLS museum grantees.” IMLS museum grants support a wide variety of projects that create learning experiences, strengthen communities, care for collections and provide broad public access.