Hessel Museum of Art-Bard College Campus
33 Garden Road
Annandale-On-Hudson, NY 12504
Open: Sunday 11:00am-5:00pm/Monday-Tuesday Closed/Wednesday-Saturday 11:00am-5:00pm
My review on TripAdvisor:
The Hessel Museum on the Bard Campus
When I was visiting Rhinebeck for the recent Sheep and Wool Festival (See day One Hundred and Forty-Nine on “MywalkinManhattan.com), I decided to visit Bard College and their contemporary art museum, the Hessel Museum. When approaching the museum, it almost appears to be a fortress with several large pieces of contemporary sculpture on the grounds outside the building.
Day One Hundred and Forty-Nine:
Once upon entering the museum, you are greeted by many welcoming volunteers who will check your vaccination card and ID and your mask and then you can enter the museum for viewing. At the time I was there, NY State still had a lot of their mandates.
There were a couple of interesting exhibitions going on when I visited. The first one I visited that afternoon was “Closer to Life: Drawings and Works on Paper in the Marieluise Hessel Collection”, which was many of the works of the founder of Bard’s private collection that had been donated to the school. I have to admit that the works were very contemporary with lots of squiggles and political themes.
Many of the works you had to look at a second time to try to find the meaning in them. I was having a tough time relating the titles to the works. Reading the exhibits press release, the exhibition said “Hessel’s dedication to the depiction of the human figure as an essential act of examining the self and social relations. The exhibit focuses, with a few exceptions, on drawing as a discrete, stand-alone practice and preoccupation of artists rather than as a tool to create studies for works in other mediums. Drawing is a way of thinking and the intimacy of the act is echoed in much of the subject matter depicted in the exhibition (Museum website).
Ms. Hessel traveled extensively and had relationships with many artists along the way, who touched on the themes of the day. She traveled from Germany to Mexico City and then onto New York City at different phases of her life and it shows in the collection that she amassed. The collection twists and turns in its theme from room to room.
The other exhibition I toured was the current “With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972-1985” which was an interesting exhibition of design of the home and space which seemed to be an art movement in the early to mid 1980’s that I never noticed when I was in high school and college. It seemed that home design went from the home furnishings to a form of art.
This I had seen the artist’s starting to design things like dishware and placemats for everyday use and in things like wallpaper from the dining room. There was a cross over in home design as artists became more commercialized and their work showed up on walls and floors. It is not too different today with people like Martha Stewart and her paint and home furnishing collections or Halston designing for JC Penny with the Halston II Collection.
Some of the art was quite colorful
The art in those galleries really looked something you would find in the average person’s home in the era. Some of the ‘over the top’ really looked like it belonged on a rug or on wallpaper. As the exhibition’s literature stated, “the exhibition examines the Pattern and Decorative movement’s defiant embrace of forms traditionally coded as feminine, domestic, ornamental or craft based and thought to be patterns and arranging them in intricate, almost dizzying and sometimes purposefully gaudy designs” (Exhibition literature).
The Hessel Museum doesn’t offer just interesting art but it approaches it in a thought-provoking way, asking the patrons to see beyond not just what is on the walls but think about the exhibit from the era in which the art is from and ask ‘does this still ring true today’. The Hessel asks us to think ‘out of the box’ and look at their works from different perspectives.
Some I understood and some I didn’t but I still enjoyed wondering the galleries and exploring the art on its terms. I think that’s what contemporary or just art in general does. We need to think about it. The museum also has a nice little gift shop to explore.
The History of the Hessel Museum:
About CCS Bard:
Established in 1990, the Center for Curatorial Studies (CCS Bard) is an incubator for experimentation in exhibition-making and the leading institution dedicated exclusively to curatorial studies-a discipline exploring the historical, intellectual and social conditions that inform curatorial practice.
The Center for Curatorial Studies has several interconnected parts:
The Hessel Museum of Art, built in 2006, presents experimental group exhibitions and monographic shows and also draws from the Marieluise Hessel Collection of Contemporary Art, comprised of more than 3,000 objects collected contemporaneously from the 1960’s to the present day. The Hessel Museum is open and free to the public. Public sculptures by Franz West, Cosima von Bonin and other artists surround the Museum. Please see the museum page for more details.
CCS Bard hosts a range of public events throughout the year. All events are free and open to the public. Please see upcoming events on the website.
The CCS Bard Archive provides access to a wide range of primary materials documenting the history of the contemporary visuals arts and the institutions and practices of exhibition-making since the 1960’s. Please see our research center page for further details.
The Graduate program in Curatorial Studies is an intensive course of study in the history of contemporary art, the institutions and practices of exhibition making and the theory and criticism of contemporary art since the 1960’s. Throughout its over thirty-year history, the program has actively recruited perspectives underrepresented in contemporary art and cultivated a student body representing a diverse spectrum of backgrounds in a board effort to transform the curatorial field. Please see the school page for further details.
The Center for Curatorial Studies is part of Bard College and located on their Annandale-on-Hudson campus. Bard acts at the intersection of education and civil society, extending liberal arts and sciences education to communities in which it has been undeveloped, inaccessible or absent. Through its undergraduate college, distinctive graduate programs, commitment to the fine and performing arts, civic and public engagement programs and network of international dual-degree partnerships, early colleges and prison education initiatives, Bard offers unique opportunities for students and faculty to study, experience and realize the principle that higher-education institutions can and should operate in the public interest. For more details on the Bard College, please see their website.