'An American Place' Exhibition Will Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State

  • November 24, 2021 16:34

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The new Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State. View from the Overlook Pavilion in the Arboretum. Architect: Allied Works. Rendering: Courtesy of MIR.
Eleanor Antin (American, b. 1935), Going Home from Roman Allegories, 2004, chromogenic print, 48-1/2 x 102-3/4 x 2 inches. Purchased with funds provided by the Donald W. Hamer Endowment for Art Acquisitions and Exhibitions, 2006.29. © Eleanor Antin
Thomas Hart Benton (American, 1889–1975), Shallow Creek, 1938–39, oil and Egg tempera on canvas mounted on board, 36 x 25 inches. Bequest of James R. and Barbara R. Palmer, 2019.31. © 2021 T.H. and R.P. Benton Trusts / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Pancrace Bessa (French, 1772–1846), Hyacinthus Orientalis, 1810–1826, watercolor on white vellum, 7 3/8 x 4 9/16 inches. Presented in memory of James Rea Maxwell Jr., Class of 1921, 74.4

The Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State will celebrate its 50th anniversary as a leading university art museum in 2022 with a rich array of exhibitions, programs and events throughout the year. The festivities will be bookended by captivating exhibitions that spotlight the Palmer’s outstanding collection of American art and consider the institution’s storied public service, history and identity. The final exhibition of 2022 will close the Museum’s current facility as the institution looks ahead to the opening of its magnificent new home that is under construction in the Arboretum at Penn State.

“As a vital educational resource and cultural destination, the Palmer Museum of Art, in partnership with its Penn State and broader communities, looks forward to honoring our past, recognizing those who brought us to this auspicious moment and embracing a bright and dynamic future through this range of accessible and relevant projects celebrating our landmark anniversary in 2022,” said Palmer Museum Director Erin M. Coe.

The centerpiece of the Palmer’s golden anniversary, An American Place: Highlights from the James and Barbara Palmer Collection, will be on view at the Museum from Jan. 29 through April 24, 2022. The Palmer Museum of Art boasts one of the finest collections of American art in any academic museum in the country. The sweeping exhibition examines the complexity of our national narrative, highlighting a century of American art from the post-Civil War decades through the Civil Rights era. The exhibition will present paintings, works on paper and sculpture drawn from the bequest of lead philanthropist Barbara Palmer, who passed away in 2019. Amassed over three decades, she and her husband, James, established a signature collection that includes Ashcan portraits, scenes of everyday life, modernist explorations and a broad range of mid-century voices – many of them once marginalized – demonstrating the discerning inclusivity of their vision and the diverse breadth of the story of American art.

An American Place is organized into four thematic sections: Breaking Ties, Rootedness and the Flux of Modernity, America as Place, and Diverse Voices. Among the notable artists to be showcased in the exhibition are Milton Avery, Romare Bearden, Thomas Hart Benton, Charles Burchfield, Paul Cadmus, Mary Cassatt, Frederic Edwin Church, Arthur Dove, Robert Gwathmey, Marsden Hartley, Martin Johnson Heade, Winslow Homer, Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe, Charles Sheeler, Joseph Stella and George Tooker.

Martin Lewis (American, 1881–1962), Little Penthouse, 1931, drypoint, 13½ x 10½ inches. Museum purchase, 2000.55

Also opening in the winter at the Palmer’s current building are A Way Through: Abstract Art of the 1940s (Jan. 15-May 15, 2022), which explores the decisive leap from figuration to abstraction in New York through a selection of major works on loan from the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the museum’s own collection. This is one in a series of American art exhibitions created through a multi-year, multi-institutional partnership formed by the Philadelphia Museum of Art as part of the Art Bridges Initiative. And Printmaking in the Age of Dürer (Jan. 18-May 8, 2022) takes a rare look at the expressive achievements in the medium of printmaking by German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer and his contemporaries.

In the spring and summer of 2022, the Palmer highlights a wide variety of media and approaches by Penn State faculty and former faculty in two exhibitions, HOME/STUDIO: 2022 Penn State School of Visual Arts Faculty Show (May 17-Aug. 28, 2022) and Those Who Taught: Selected Works by Former Faculty (May 20-Aug. 14, 2022), as well as a selection of staff favorites and reflections on the collection (June 3-Sept. 4, 2022).

Next fall the Museum offers The Art of Remembering: A Selection of Gifts from 1974-2020 (Aug. 26-Dec. 18, 2022), an intimate installation of European and American works on paper that acknowledges and symbolizes the many generous gifts to the Palmer collection by numerous dedicated patrons over the years.

Focusing on the transformational new building for the Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State, Designed for the Future: The New Palmer Museum of Art at the Arboretum (Sept. 23-Dec. 18, 2022) will allow visitors to experience its innovative and versatile design through the architect’s model, drawings, plans, renderings and animation. Designed by Allied Works Architecture, the new facility will substantially boost accessibility to the University’s art collections for students, faculty, staff and the public.

Seamlessly integrating art, architecture and nature and sited within a landscape similar to those that inspired many of the American works in its renowned collection, the new 71,000-square-foot Museum will nearly double the space for the display, study and stewardship of the University’s art collection and special exhibitions The building features a series of interlocking pavilions clad in regional stone that evokes the geology of central Pennsylvania. In keeping with Penn State’s commitment to environmental sustainability, the new Museum will be a high-performance building with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Construction of the new Palmer Museum of Art began earlier this year.

Linda Plotkin (American, b. 1938), Morning Light, 1977, Aquatint, mezzotint, and engraving, 26 x 29-1/8 inches. Gift of John and Dorothy O'Connor, 2004.42

The Palmer concludes its remarkable anniversary year with Looking at Who We Are: The Palmer at Fifty, (Sept. 23-Dec. 18, 2022). Drawing on Penn State’s iconic cheer “We Are,” the title of the exhibition signals an introspective reckoning as the museum marks this historic milestone and reflects on its past, present and future. Featuring a selection of paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and sculpture from the permanent collection, Looking at Who We Are explores how history, place and community shape our conception of museums and of ourselves. Divided into four sections, the exhibition invites viewers to take a broader look at personal and cultural identity through the lens of specific works of art and to consider how collections are formed and institutional histories are written. 

Lee Krasner (American, 1908–1984), Composition, 1949, oil on canvas, 38-1/16 x 27-13/16 inches, Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of the Aaron E. Norman Fund, Inc., 1959, 1959-31-1 © Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

More info on the Museum’s website: palmermuseum.psu.edu.

Tags: american art

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