Current Exhibition

Opened
January 27, 2018
Closes
July 22, 2018
Location
In the Bartels Gallery, Floor 1L

When the Herbert F. Johnson Museum opened in 1973, the campus and surrounding community were presented with exciting opportunities to newly engage with the visual arts. Liberated from the constraints of the A. D. White House—a Victorian mansion refurbished as an art museum—the sixty-thousand- square foot building designed by I. M. Pei announced Cornell’s ambition to more fully interact with the art of the past, to better explain the art of today, and to imagine the future.

Forty-five years later, the permanent collection has grown in ways both predictable (expanding existing strengths, particularly Asian) and unexpected (time-based media). The art on view here provides only a small window into the richness and diversity of the Museum’s permanent collection. Beginning with works from pre-Columbian Ecuador and Mexico and ending with contemporary paintings, drawings, and sculpture from Asia, the Americas, and Europe, these works are shown in conjunction with many important pieces installed in the permanent collection galleries, such as the masterwork Walking Man II by Alberto Giacometti, presented to the Museum as a gift in 1976 only three years after the Johnson opened.

The development of the Museum’s collection and programs was led first by Tom Leavitt, our founding director from 1968 to 1991, and for the next two decades (1992–2011) by Frank Robinson, who oversaw our impressive 2011 renovation and expansion. The talent of the Museum’s curators is showcased throughout this exhibition. Their expertise and dynamic interactions with artists, faculty, and students have productively inspired the growth of the collection, supported by the remarkable generosity of thousands of dedicated and loyal Cornellians who have embraced the Johnson Museum and its mission from the very beginning.

The forty-fifth anniversary provided an opportunity to prepare a new handbook of the collection, the third in our history and the first in twenty years. Made possible thanks to a generous gift from Evalyn E. Milman, Class of 1960, and Stephen E. Milman, Class of 1958, MBA 1959, the handbook will be published in 2018. The Milmans’ support is part of a long history of remarkable and much-appreciated giving by Cornellians who have embraced the Johnson and its mission from the beginning.

This exhibition was curated by Stephanie Wiles, the Richard J. Schwartz Director of the Johnson Museum, and supported in part by the Helen and Robert J. Appel Exhibition Endowment.