In January 1914, Northern and Southern Nigeria united to become Nigeria, Merrill Lynch was founded, the first steamboat passed through the Panama Canal, and Henry Ford introduced the assembly line for his Model T Fords. But perhaps the most important event in that year and month, at least to the township of Montclair, was that the Montclair Art Museum opened its doors to the public.
A hundred years later, the museum will be celebrating. Starting this fall and continuing throughout the following year, MAM will be commemorating its centennial with a wide variety of events and activities, touching on all aspects of the museum’s past, present and future, and its connection to the community.
“We connect with our audiences in so many ways—through our art school, public programs, exhibitions, and civic engagement—and we want this very special year to reflect all those connections,” said MAM Director Lora Urbanelli.
With 70,000 annual visitors and a collection of more than 12,000 works, the museum began its collection with gifts from prominent Montclair residents that included both American and Native American art. Much like today, Montclair’s residents in the late 19th century were comprised of artists and collectors, including prominent landscape painter George Inness, who lived in the township between 1885 and his death in 1894. His presence in the area attracted other painters and sculptors, “galvanizing the collective art consciousness that eventually gave birth to the museum,” according to Wikipedia.
MAM’s exhibitions for the centennial celebration will showcase the museum’s collections and its ties to New Jersey. Highlights will include:
- A Centennial-related exhibition and a new installation will both premiere on September 22. Looking Forward: Gifts of Contemporary Art from Patricia A. Bell pays tribute to this South Orange, NJ, resident whose gifts of art to MAM have helped to develop the Museum’s contemporary art collection into a significant reflection of the current art world since the 1990s. Additionally, a major new outdoor sculpture by the artist Jean Shin, titled Host, will be unveiled.
- A 100 Day Countdown begins October 7, leading up to MAM’s birthday on January 15. The Museum in partnership with Montclair businesses will offer discounts and coupons at Montclair restaurants and boutiques. Follow the countdown on MAM’s website for art projects, MAM facts, Museum events, and more.
- MAM welcomes University of San Francisco professor Marjorie Schwarzer, a prolific writer and engaging commentator on issues affecting museums and author of Riches, Rivals and Radicals: 100 Years of the Museum in America, on Thursday, October 10, to deliver the 27th Annual Julia Norton Babson Lecture.
- A Halloween party fundraiser, “Fright Night at the Museum,” will take place Saturday, October 19, 7:30 p.m.–11 p.m.
- On Wednesday, January 15, the community is invited to celebrate MAM’s birthday with a free evening at the Museum. The evening will include a unique mix of dynamic programming, live music, tours, and a full-service cash bar in partnership with Egan & Sons. A special program in the auditorium will honor the Museum and its friends. 100 Works for 100 Years: A Centennial Celebration, a collection-based exhibition, will also be fully unveiled this evening. Visitors can participate in the Centennial Lounge, where they can vote for their favorite works, comment on their selections, and learn more about MAM’s history. The top chosen community favorites will be placed on exhibition at a later date to be determined in 2015.
- Robert Smithson’s New Jersey will open February 22. One of the founders of the art form known as earthworks, or land art, the Passaic-born Smithson (1938–1973) remains one of the most influential and original artists of his generation and after. When the range of his New Jersey– based works are placed together on exhibition, it will be clear that the Passaic/Clifton/Montclair area was as integral to his career as were Winslow Homer’s Maine and Andrew Wyeth’s Chadds Ford. Smithson is perhaps best known for
Spiral Jetty, 1970, located in the Great Salt Lake, Utah.
- April 20–26 will feature a weeklong Centennial Celebration, including an Art in Fashion exhibition and luncheon and a Centennial Ball.
A complete listing of Centennial-related events and exhibitions will be regularly updated on the museum’s website.