On its 200th, Colby still “something young”
I’ve spent the last few weeks immersed in the past—and watching the future unfold.
The past has been in the form of the archives that supplied the material included in this issue’s final bicentennial section. The future has been the lead-up to the July opening of the extraordinary Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion at the Colby Museum of Art.
This section’s time period, 1964-2013, seems to span much more than 50 years. This was a half century that began with campus beauty queens, erupted with protests over Vietnam and civil rights, jettisoned fraternities and sororities, and eventually was swept into the 21st century on the crest of the information age. A lot of change was packed into a few decades, and there were times, I’m sure, when many wondered what the world and Colby were coming to.
One of the witnesses to that decade of upheaval was a fellow named Hugh Gourley. Gourley was working at the Rhode Island School of Design when James Carpenter, professor of art history and director of the Colby College Museum of Art, brought him to Waterville in 1966 to become the museum’s first full-time leader. The museum wasn’t much more than a corridor then, but Gourley saw more. “I felt there was an enormous chance to build something here,” he said, reflecting on his career, in 1991. “I just felt that it would be a wonderful experience to be involved with something young with a great potential for growth.”
Gourley, who died in 2012, nurtured the museum for decades, firmly guiding it toward the realization of his vision and that of the museum’s stalwart supporters. Last month his spirit was invoked as the museum reopened. This time the vision was that of museum benefactors Paula and Peter Lunder ’56, Gourley’s successor Sharon Corwin, and others. The wonderful Lunder Collection of American Art is in place in a pavilion that shines like a beacon atop Mayflower Hill. If you haven’t been, hustle on over.
It’s tremendously exciting, of course, and you don’t need me to tell you that. But I do want to say that poring through archives for the past year, and watching this latest gorgeous addition to the College, I had a feeling that Colby still is “something young,” and as much as ever holds that “great potential for growth.”
Two hundred years young.
Gerry Boyle ’78, P’06