Baltimore Art Museum Celebrates 100 Years With New American Wing

The Baltimore Art Museum. Photo: Cassidy Johnson, courtesy the Baltimore Sun.
The Baltimore Art Museum. Photo: Cassidy Johnson, courtesy the Baltimore Sun.

After two years and $7.9 million, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) will reopen its newly renovated 15,000-square-foot American art wing this Sunday, in celebration of its 100th anniversary, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Curators have taken advantage of the renovations, completely rehanging the wing. Artworks are now arranged chronologically (they were previously grouped by medium), with an eye toward demonstrating how American artists were part of a broader dialogue with artists overseas.

“I was surprised how far and wide and international these ‘American’ artists really were throughout the past three centuries,” senior curator David Park Curry told the WSJ.

The wing’s unveiling coincides with the reopening of the neoclassical John Russell Pope-designed building’s main entrance, closed since 1982 (see “Baltimore Museum of Art Reopens Main Entrance After Over 30 Years“). Also returning to a place of pride are the main lobby’s original pair of chandeliers, recently rediscovered in storage and now rehung.

In the American wing, Pope’s Beaux-Arts design has influenced how the collection is displayed. “We wanted to kind of pull you through Pope’s architecture,” Curry told the Baltimore Sun. “We’ve been very careful to bring back his sense of distance and perspective. He wanted you to be able to see through his building.”

The curator has installed paintings and decorative objects together, creating convincing period tableaus that also allow him to put 25 percent more objects on view.

This weekend’s unveiling just the latest in a string of positive developments for the museum in recent years: renovations to the BMA’s contemporary wing were completed in 2012, a stolen Renoir was returned in March (see “Over 60 Years Later, Stolen Renoir Returns to Baltimore Museum of Art“), and local collectors Tom and Nancy O’Neil donated a suite of 24 contemporary photographs to the institution earlier this year (see “Baltimore Museum of Art Receives Major Photo Donation“). Renovations are currently underway on the Asian and African galleries, which will reopen next spring, the next step in the five-year, multi-phase $28 million renovation.

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