Addison Gallery to Reopen in the Fall

Next September, after a long wait and much anticipation, the Addison Gallery of American Art will reopen to the public. Over the past year, the Addison was completely renovated. Julie Bernson, the Addison’s curator of education said, “We wanted to keep the integrity of such beautiful architecture.” Despite the building looking the same, there is now a much larger storage area and more staff. The Addison has over 17,000 works of art, but only 1,000 are on display at any given time. Before, all 3-D works were stored off-site due to the lack of space, but now there will be room to store the entire collection in the building. One of the most notable and visible additions is the new learning center. The learning center is an educational space designed to create more access to and engagement with the collection. Because the Addison has only a small fraction of its collection on display, students will now be able to see works not on display through the new learning center. The learning center will also be open to public school groups, ranging from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade. The Addison also has many new pieces of artwork. Two notable pieces are contrasting works about the Civil War. One is a group of pictures on men in their Civil War uniforms, while the other is a contemporary set of prints looking back on the Civil War. According to Bernson, this adds to an already impressive Civil War collection and will be used for history classes. “In 2010, we’re looking back at history. To have these pieces to show how our perspectives on history have changed over time is really incredible,” said Bernson. She addied, “The Addison is important for art history and education. We wanted to find ways for the artwork to complement the schoolwork.” Because of this, the curators of the Addison are trying to work with all school departments, including math and science. Tristan Terich ’00, the first artist in residence of the newly renovated museum, will help this endeavor, with his work connecting visual art, music and technology. Terich is a contemporary avant-garde composer who connects his musical work to visual pieces, math and science. He will be creating pieces in the learning center, as well as putting together a concert with Phillips Academy students. A number of classes will be adjusting their syllabi in the fall to accommodate Terich’s presence on campus. As a part of its reopening, the Addison will house a number of special exhibitions and talks with the curators throughout the year. Beginning in November, there will be a retrospective on Sheila Hicks. Bernson said, “She is an amazing, intriguing artist.” According to Bernson, Hicks’ textile work ranges from tiny wall decorations to huge room-size sculptural installations. Later in the year, the Addison will have an exhibition on John Lafarge, a 19th century painter. Lafarge’s travels to the Pacific Islands led him to create ornate paintings and watercolors, and these, as well as his sketchbooks, will be on display. The Addison officially reopens on September 7, but it is not having its big, opening party until September 25 when students are back on campus. It will then host a number of open houses to get people reacquainted with the renovated space. Bernson said, “We definitely want to connect with students in the fall. One thing we want to do is create events driven by students. It can be anything from working with the artists to a coffeehouse – we’re very open.”