The Queens of Persia at the Feet of Alexander
the Great (The Tent of Darius), a
seventeenth-century silk and wool French tapestry styled after a Charles LeBrun
painting, will be new on view in the European galleries when the Utah Museum of
Fine Arts (UMFA) reopens August 26.
The usually picture-perfect galleries of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) look more like
artists’ studios these days, with preparations in full swing for the Museum’s
late August reopening.
On a recent morning, metal carts and gurneys sat
piled with tools and gallon paint cans as the Museum’s preparator readied empty
cases for new objects in the Pacific art exhibition. Nearby in the modern and
contemporary gallery, collections staffers carefully mounted three Seer Bonnets by Angela Ellsworth, an
artist with Salt Lake City ties. Downstairs in collections storage, a guest conservator
assessed, cleaned and treated paintings, including Utah artist Alfred
Lambourne's A Nook of the Desert
(1875–1876), a new acquisition for the American and regional galleries.
UMFA conservator Robyn Haynie assesses Seer Bonnet (2010) by Angela Ellsworth
before installing it in the Museum’s modern and contemporary gallery. The
object, one of three such bonnets that will be on view, is made of 17,214 pearl
corsage pins, fabric, and steel.
A guest conservator assesses a painting from the
Museum’s collection to help staff develop a treatment plan.
The UMFA has been closed since mid-January 2016 for
replacement of the building’s vapor barrier, essential for efficiently
maintaining appropriate humidity levels. With that work successfully completed,
staff are busy with the most comprehensive reinstallation of the permanent
exhibitions since the Marcia and John Price Museum Building opened in 2001.
What will you see when UMFA galleries reopen the last
weekend of August? Nearly half the artworks will be new on view, including not
only recent contemporary and western art acquisitions but also a giant
17th-century French tapestry, works from the Museum’s African collection, Chinese
ceramics and more. Most galleries will be reorganized along fresh storylines—thanks
to months of curatorial research and re-envisioning—to give you new, more
engaging ways to experience and interpret the objects.
The Pacific Island permanent exhibition, for
instance, has been reconsidered under the guidance of a former curator from the
Metropolitan Museum of Art, who is also curating the Museum’s new gallery of
African art. The modern and contemporary gallery will have a larger footprint
and initially feature women artists from the collection exclusively. The
American and regional galleries, reorganized around the theme of westward
expansion, have been relocated from upstairs to a prominent first-floor gallery,
so that visitors will see western art soon after they enter the building.
UMFA curator Whitney Tassie (foreground) and
collections staff install British artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s Periphery (2013) in the modern and
Conservator Robyn Haynie and guest curator
Virginia-Lee Web evaluate objects for the Museum’s new African gallery.
Meanwhile, curators and educators are collaboratively
rewriting every wall and label text in the permanent galleries, seeking to
expose viewers to the most current art historical research while encouraging
them to explore their own interpretations of these works.
Aside from the reimagined permanent exhibitions, two new temporary
shows will also be on view. HERE, HERE
by Las Hermanas Iglesias will debut in UMFA’s new ACME Lab, a flexible space
for creative exploration and exhibitions housed in the Museum’s Emma Eccles
Jones Education Center. Contemporary artist Spencer Finch’s site-specific
installation in the Great Hall will also premiere.
So mark your calendar for the UMFA’s public reopening
celebration, featuring talks, tours, films, a dance party and more on Saturday,
August 26, and Sunday, August 27. (Donors, VIPs and members will enjoy a sneak
preview Friday, August 25.)
In the meantime, join us for an artist talk, film, ACME
Session, Third Saturday for
Families, or other exciting program
this summer. Visit umfa.utah.edu, sign up for our e-newsletter, or
follow us on Facebook
or Instagram to keep
up with the latest.
See you soon!
Mindy Wilson is the UMFA’s marketing and communications