With the opening of the Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion this weekend, the Colby College Museum of Art—long recognized for its substantial and important American art collection—now has the most exhibition space of any art museum in Maine and has confirmed its status as one of the nation’s premier institutions of American art.
An event for friends of the museum on Saturday, July 13 and a special community celebration on Sunday, July 14 will mark the opening. Seven inaugural exhibitions will demonstrate the strength and breadth of the museum’s collection and offer new perspectives on the renowned Lunder Collection, one of the most important private collections of American art ever assembled, which was recently gifted to the museum.
Designed by the distinguished Los Angeles-based firm Frederick Fisher and Partners Architects, the 26,000-square-foot pavilion will create a light-filled gateway to the existing museum and serve as a beacon for Maine residents and visitors, while providing an additional 10,000 square feet of exhibition space.
“Until now,” said Colby President William D. Adams, “our museum may have been something of an underappreciated gem—though not to our students, faculty, alumni, and the citizens of Maine, who have embraced it as one of their finest resources. But now, as we celebrate the bicentennial of the college, we can look forward as never before to welcoming visitors from around the country and the world who are going to discover that our museum has risen to the top in its field.”
Sharon Corwin, the Carolyn Muzzy Director and Chief Curator of the Colby College Museum of Art, said, “The opening of this pavilion will allow generations of visitors to appreciate the extraordinary works of art brought together over decades by the Lunders, alongside our permanent collection and for that I am most grateful.”
Located near the Belgrade Lakes region and about an hour from Portland and from Maine’s mid-coast, the museum is part of a ring of Maine cultural sites that stretch from the Winslow Homer Studio in Prouts Neck to the offshore artists’ colonies of Vinalhaven and Monhegan islands. The museum is also near the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and from its inception has shared a close relationship with the school. The opening of the new pavilion will make the expanded museum more attractive than ever for Maine residents and visitors alike.
Refined and minimalist in design, the glass pavilion completes a circuit with the four existing wings of the museum, unifying them and contrasting with the neo-Georgian brick architecture that is found throughout the campus. The pavilion now serves as the main entrance to the museum, providing a spacious new lobby that includes a sculpture gallery and terrace, as well as new exhibition galleries, classrooms, a conference room, and staff offices. A glass-enclosed stairwell contains a monumental, three-story wall drawing by Sol LeWitt, which is visible from a distance to visitors arriving on the campus’s main thoroughfare. The pavilion’s upper floor is dedicated to the College’s Art Department, providing new studios for photography and fine art foundation classes, faculty offices, and a student lounge. The pavilion has been granted LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
“This new pavilion is conceived as a glass prism that will reflect its natural and architectural context in continuously changing images,” said architect Frederick Fisher. “The reflecting nature of the glass expresses the theme that art provides the opportunity to reflect on life. This was central to the museum’s position as a beacon of creativity and innovation on campus.”
The opening exhibitions on view in the new Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion will showcase collection highlights and welcome new masterworks to the museum.
The centerpiece of the inaugural installation is The Lunder Collection: A Gift of Art to Colby College, the first exhibition dedicated entirely to the Lunder Collection, which will feature more than 260 works. Valued at more than $100 million, the Lunder Collection comprises more than 500 objects by American masters including John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, George Inness, William Merritt Chase, Winslow Homer, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Edward Hopper, Alexander Calder, and Georgia O’Keeffe, as well as important contemporary American works by Alex Katz, Louise Nevelson, Romare Bearden, Donald Judd, John Chamberlain, George Rickey, and Jenny Holzer, among others. The collection features a remarkable concentration of works by James McNeill Whistler, including the painting Chelsea in Ice (1864), almost two dozen additional paintings, watercolors, and pastels, an astonishing group of 201 etchings and lithographs, and some 150 books, journals, photographs, and archival materials related to Whistler.
Also on view at the time of the opening will be Spaces and Places: Chinese Art from the Lunder-Colville Collection and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, a special exhibition of early works of Chinese art drawn from the museum’s Lunder-Colville Collection of Chinese Art and special loans from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Other exhibitions will include Nowhere but Here: Art From the Alex Katz Foundation, presenting 30 recent acquisitions from the Alex Katz Foundation; Alex Katz: A Matter of Light, featuring 48 prints, drawings, and paintings by Alex Katz from the permanent collection; “A Thing Alive”: Modern Views from the Marin Collections, offering works from the museum’s extraordinarily rich holdings of John Marin’s work, shown alongside contemporaneous photographs from the Norma B. Marin Photography Collection; American Weathervanes from a Distinguished Maine Collection representing some of the finest designs and iconic forms of the late 19th century, the heyday of weathervane production in America; and Process & Place: Exploring the Design Evolution of the Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion, exploring the contextual and collaborative design process of Frederick Fisher and Partners Architects for the Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion.
Founded in 1959, the Colby College Museum of Art will now comprise five wings, more than 8,000 works of art, and more than 38,000 square feet of exhibition space. Major works by American masters including John Singleton Copley, Gilbert Stuart, Albert Bierstadt, Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, and William Merritt Chase form the core of the historical collection, along with significant holdings of American folk art. The modern movement is represented by important works by artists including John Marin, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O’Keeffe, George Bellows, and Rockwell Kent. The museum also maintains a significant collection of contemporary American art, including works by Chuck Close, Agnes Martin, Sol LeWitt, Dan Flavin, Kara Walker, Elizabeth Murray, Alex Katz, Richard Serra, and Terry Winters. Other principal areas of the collection include Greek and Roman antiquities, European prints and drawings, and early Chinese art. The museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
Admission is free. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Open on Thursdays until 9 p.m. during the academic year. The public is invited to join the conversation online via dedicated social communities on Facebook and Twitter (@colbymuseum and #colbymuseum). For additional information, please visit www.colby.edu/museum.
Ruth Jacobs ([email protected])