Montclair Art Museum
3 South Mountain Avenue
Montclair, NJ 07042
Phone: (973) 746-5555/Membership: (973) 259-5147
Open Wednesday-Sunday 12:00pm-5:00pm/Monday & Tuesday Closed
Fee: Non-Member Adults $12.00/Seniors (65+) and Students with ID $10.00/Members and Children under 12 Free
I have made many trips to the Montclair Art Museum over the years and have always found it to be a very interesting and engaging museum. The curators mount fascinating exhibitions sometimes from the permanent collection and sometimes from traveling shows.
The galleries are smaller and more compact so the exhibitions are not over-whelming like in the bigger museums. You can see each exhibition in about forty-five minutes to an hour and you will still see a lot. There are also smaller exhibition spaces which specialize in one artist and you might see about a dozen pieces.
There are two exhibitions going on currently in the museum. One is “Constructing Identity in American”, which is a permanent collection show of more than 80 paintings, sculptures and works on paper that will address a variety of characteristics that contribute to one’s sense of self, including civic, cultural, artistic, religious, professional and sociopolitical identities, sense of place and personal space and non-conformity. This exhibition goes far beyond portraits to explore other aspects of sense of self (Museum pamphlet).
“Constructing Identity in America” exhibit
The other exhibition is called “Undaunted Spirit: Art of Native North America” which focuses on the Native American culture from Prehistoric times to the modern era. It , seems that by the end of the Civil War the Victorians were collecting art and objects of the Native Americans fearing that their cultural was disappearing. There is a lot of focus on pottery, both modern and pre-colonial, clothing construction, jewelry making with turquoise and silver and basket-making which was all the rage at the turn of last century. I like the modern aspects of the art as they are ushering a new era of artists of the southwest and giving them a voice. Take time to look at the detail work of the show.
“Undaunted Spirit: Art of Native North America” exhibit
History of the Montclair Art Museum:
(This information was provided by the Montclair Art Museum)
Mission Statement: The Montclair Art Museum, together with its Vance Wall Art Education Center, engages our diverse community through distinctive exhibitions, educational programs and collection of American and Native American Art. Our mission is to inspire and engage people of all ages in their experience with art, including the rich inter-cultural and global connections throughout American history and the continuing relevance of art to contemporary life.
The Montclair Art Museum
Vision, Values and Diversity Statement:
After 100 years of service, MAM is recognized as the leading American art museum and community art school in Northern New Jersey. As a organization, we value: artistic inspiration, diversity of voices, individual and group creativity and the importance of all arts to a civil, inclusive and forward-thinking society.
We respect and welcome individual differences and strive to maintain an environment that fosters productivity, creativity and individual satisfaction by celebrating the diversity of race, gender, nationality, age, religion, sexual orientation and physical abilities.
During our second century, we will invigorate our collections and curatorial presentations; expand our educational services audience; support artists, their work and connections; pursue productive institutional partnerships and embrace new media and technology. We will also secure MAM’s financial stability and preserve its facilities and other assets in a prudent and sustainable way.
A notable community institution with an international reputation, the Montclair Art Museum (MAM) is still located in the same-though now thrice expanded-building in which it opened in 1914. Situated amid a beautiful tree-lined residential area of Montclair New Jersey, just 12 miles west of New York City, the Museum is esteemed for its holdings of American and Native American Art, its exhibitions, its family and public programs and its art school. It welcomes more than 65,000 visitors annually.
The Museum was a pioneer: one of the country’s first museums primarily engaged in collecting American Art (including the work of contemporary non academic artists) and among the first dedicated to the study and creation of a significant Native American art collection. This pioneering spirit still reverberates in the Museum’s pursuit and presentation of high-quality art that characterize and celebrates American’s diversity, including the recent launch of its Contemporary Art Program, in 2010, providing MAM an opportunity to showcase dynamic contemporary work and expand the Museum’s contemporary art holdings. A main showcase dynamic contemporary work and expand the Museum’s Contemporary holdings.
A main feature of the MAM program is to explore the interplay between historical and contemporary art to our understanding of the larger historical context in which art is created, presenting work that is being challenging and accessible. A key component of the Contemporary Art Program is it New Direction exhibition series of solo artists, established in 2011. Artists featured in the series include Marina Zurch, Saya Woolfalk, Spencer Finch and Sanford Biggers. Most recently in Spring 2015, MAM presented its largest and most ambitious exhibition of contemporary art to date, “Come as You Are: Art of the 1990’s”.
From its founding, the Montclair Art Museum has maintained a vital presence in its surrounding community. The Museum’s collection began with gifts from prominent Montclair residents that included both American and Native American art, laying the foundation for the Museum’s holdings. MAM’s Inness Gallery is one of the only galleries in the world dedicated to the work of America’s greatest landscape painter, who spent the last nine years of his life in Montclair, from 1885 onward and who drew inspiration from the local landscape. Other well-known artists followed in his footsteps, cementing Montclair’s reputation as an intellectual center and artist’s colony, a reputation its retains to this day.
Mam’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works. The American collection, which started with a gift of 36 paintings from William T. Evan’s, comprises paintings, prints, drawings, photographs and sculpture dating from the 18th century to the present and features excellent works by Benjamin West, Asher B. Durand, John Singer Sargent, Edward Hooper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein as well as younger and emerging artists such as Louise Lawler, Chakaia Booker, Whitfield Lovell and Willie Cole.
The museum’s superb holdings of traditional and contemporary American Indian art and artifacts, New Jersey’s largest, represent the cultural achievements in weaving, pottery, wood carving, jewelry and textiles of indigenous Americans. The collection was begun by Annie Valentine Rand and carried on by her philanthropic daughter Florence Rand Lang, one of the Museum’s founders and continues to grow with philanthropic daughter Florence Rand Lang, one of the Museum’s founders and continues to grow with commissioned works, gifts and purchases that celebrate the vitality and modernity of traditional forms and beliefs. Among the contemporary American Indian artists represented are Tony Abeyta, Dan Namingha, Jaune Quick-to-see Smith, Allan Houser , Bently Spang and Marie Watt.
Equally important for its community presence and its reputation are the Museum’s public and family programs and art school, serving everyone from toddlers to senior citizens. Collaborations with numerous cultural and community partners bring artists, performers and scholars to the Museum on a regular basis.Guests have included Holland Cotter, John Elderfield, Bill T. Jones, Jeff Koons, Faith Ringgold, Winfred Rembert, Kiki Smith, Philip Pearlstein, Shirin Neshat and Lorna Simpson. More than 10,000 K-12 students from 190 school districts visit the Museum every year. Free Family Days, a Family Lab, MAM Park Bench, Home School Days and Birthday Art Parties allow families to experience art in variety of different ways. As the New Jersey affiliate of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, MAM opens opportunities to creative teenagers to gain national recognition for their work. The Museum also provides programs for seniors and special needs individuals-such as the hearing impaired and people with Alzheimer’s as well as training for teachers in the arts.
MAM’s art school, now the Yard School of Art, has been an integral part of the Museum’s life nearly from the beginning. It was founded in 1924 just 10 years after the Museum itself and has operated continuously since then offering courses year-round to kids, teens, adults and seniors. Courses cross a broad range of the artistic spectrum, including drawing, painting, collage, pastel, printing making and illustration. In 2011, the school launched two new areas: a Ceramics Studio and a Digital Media Lab.
In 2014, MAM celebrated its Centennial with a yearlong program of activities, which included a Birthday Party on January 15, exactly 100 years from the day of its founding that attracted thousands of visitors. In honor of the Centennial the Museum also commissioned internationally renowned artist Spencer Finch to create a site-specific installation that has transformed the Museum’s facade, making it a more inviting point of entry.
The first institution in New Jersey designed as a museum and one of the first in the nation to be accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Montclair Art Museum as it marks its Centennial, continues to seek novel ways, through its exhibitions, educational programs and outreach efforts to inspire and inform its growing and ever more diverse audiences.
(This information on the history of the Montclair Art Museum was taken from their website and I give the Museum full credit for the history of the Montclair Art Museum).