Addison Gallery of American Art Closing For Two Years

The Addison Gallery of American Art, longtime art haven for Phillips Academy students and Andover residents alike, finished out the 2007-2008 school year with a final showcase party, before closing for two years of renovation. The bash, which took place last Friday, May 9, was complete with games, Tortellini kebabs, live entertainment and a full house of students, grandparents and members of the Andover community. Student performances by the all girl a capella group Azure and a band with members Osei Wilks ’08, Chris Wade ’08, Andrew Richardson ’08 and Alex Kalil ’09 and the crowd favorite, Rubik’s Cube extraordinaire Kellon “Ayo” Olusola ’11 all made appearances at the gathering. Olusola is a true veteran of performing at the Addison, both with the Yorkies or flying solo with Rubik’s Cubes of varying shapes and sizes, Olusola has made quite a name for himself in the community. Crowds of amazed audience members gaped at Olusola’s dexterity as he twisted his way through a Rubik’s dodecahedron, clocking in at about three minutes and 15 seconds. Olusola said he had a great time performing in the Addison for the last time before the two year break. “I think [the party] was fantastic. It was a great idea,” Olusola said. The Addison has been open for 77 years and will be sorely missed in the community. Betsey Williams, an Andover resident who brings her grandchildren to see the exhibits from time to time, said, “I am impressed with the generosity of the Addison to hold such a final event instead of just closing. It was a brilliant move to give everyone a chance to say goodbye.” The Addison’s last opening yielded more visitors than any of the other Addison events of the year. Amy Freedberg, Educational Fellow of the Addison, said, “We wanted to celebrate the exhibitions and get as many people to see the art, have a good time and enjoy the festivities, as possible. We always have an opening for exhibitions and this one has the added purpose for a ‘See You Soon’ party.” Dara Casey, a teacher working on an art project with fifth graders at the Bancroft Elementary School, said, “I’m sad I can’t come back for two years…[Phillips Academy] students are so lucky to have this resource—I don’t think the town realizes what a treasure the Addison truly is.” Conveniently held on Grandparent’s Weekend, the event proved to be the perfect opportunity for students to show off this aesthetically rich, albeit infrequently used, resource to their grandparents. Dave Morley, grandfather of Rachel Coleman ’10, said, “I’m totally impressed… I came out thinking that I wouldn’t see a gallery as diverse as this on a high school campus…What a gift to have for blending the community and the schools, students and adults—everyone benefits!” Despite its impending renovation, the goals of the Addison and the visible parts of the gallery are to remain mainly the same. Freedberg said, “[The Addison] was established to serve Andover boys and give them a place to see American art. For the most part, this has stayed the same—except now with girls too.” However, Freedberg hopes to draw more students to the museum. “A number of students understand that the Addison is a great resource academically, but still a lot of students have never even set foot in the Addison, which is understandable because everyone is busy and has varied interests. But, we have a two-part goal to encourage students to see the Addison not just as a place academically, but a place to step in on a rainy day, or to come to have fun, or for an event like the Birth of the Cool [exhibit]earlier this year,” she said. The Addison collection started with 600 pieces of art and has since accumulated almost 16,000 pieces. There is not enough gallery space to display every piece, so the Addison plans to add a museum learning center where students can access archives of the entire permanent collection. Also due to lack of space, the Addison does not even have room to store all of the artwork not on display. Some of the artwork is currently stored off campus, but with the renovations, the Addison will be able to house all of the artwork. The Addison originated with a staff of three and now has a full-time staff of 17. Because of this increase, the original office area of the Addison is no longer sufficient. Renovations will include expansion of office space. Renovations of the Addison will be complete in spring of 2010. In the meantime, the Andover community will be deprived of its inspiring galleries.