Looking Back and Forward: The Museum Turns 50


By Lauren Pongan '09

The Trapper
Winslow Homer, The Trapper, 1870, oil on canvas, 191/16 x 291/2" Colby College Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Harold T. Pulsifer
An exhibition titled Art at Colby: Celebrating the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Colby College Museum of Art opens July 11 in honor of the museum’s semi-centenary. The exhibit traces the history of the collection and showcases its highlights, including more than 75 works from the Lunder Collection (promised to the museum by Paula and Peter Lunder ’56), said the museum’s Carolyn Muzzy Director and Chief Curator Sharon Corwin.

The exhibit is ordered chronologically by date of acquisition, tracing landmark acquisitions, such as Winslow Homer’s The Trapper and more than 350 pieces from the collection. Visitors will be able to listen to guided audio tours via their cell phones.

A book to complement the exhibition, titled Art at Colby, includes 144 brief essays detailing 176 pieces in the collection. The 98 essay contributors represent a variety of professions, including art historians, poets, curators, and others from a broad range of disciplines. The museum staff is also organizing an October 9-10 symposium titled “American School: American Art and Pedagogy,” to bring together scholars of American art.

Moving forward, new acquisitions will continue to address specific goals. “We’re looking to strengthen the contemporary and American holdings,” Corwin said.

“We’re also looking to expand the collection of teaching objects—works that can be used by faculty in courses.” Corwin said she and her colleagues hope to expand the breadth of the museum’s outreach and engagement both on campus and in the local community, and the symposium is expected to continue to move the museum toward those goals. “We’d like to further establish ourselves as a national presence in terms of scholarship and our exhibitions.”
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  • On September 24, 2009, Chet Lewis "60 wrote:
    Although Colby established its museum under the leadership of President Bixler in 1959, prior to then the woman's dormatories, Roberts Union and Runnels Union exhibited Colby's art collection on their walls. Thus, then, much of the campus was an art gallery, and Colby had had a proto-museum for many years prior to the construction of the Bixler art complex.
  • On September 26, 2009, Sandra Burridge wrote:
    I was delighted to read about the museum and its improvements. I remember what pleasure it was to discover beautiful painting. I have since followed American painters wherever I go, especially those I associate with Maine.
  • On October 12, 2009, Nancy Garnett-Thomas wrote:
    I spent so much time in the museum for my classes that it still feels like home to me when I return. This past summer I visited it again with my daughter Sarah and niece Lauren. It was great fun seeing it through their eyes !!!