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Museum receives new NEA grant

June 1st, 2011

Ithaca, NY—The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for $60,000 over two years to support the reinstallation and reinterpretation of the permanent collection of European and American art, from ancient times to the present. The Johnson Museum is one of 1,145 not-for-profit national, regional, state, and local organizations recommended for a grant as part of the federal agency’s second round of fiscal year 2011 grants. In total, the Arts Endowment will distribute more than $88 million to support projects nationwide.

“The main goal of this project is to make the Museum’s display of European and American art more complete and more accessible visually and educationally to visitors,” said Andrew C. Weislogel, associate curator and master teacher at the Johnson Museum, who will oversee the project. “We want to present for our visitors the most complete picture possible of European and American art—their key concepts and historical developments—through thought-provoking juxtapositions of quality works, an emphasis on flexibility, variety, and inclusiveness, and engaging and effective interpretation.” The increased incorporation of selections from our collection of more than 20,000 works on paper into many galleries, protected from undue light exposure via low light levels, special exhibition cases, and an exacting rotation schedule, is a key strategy for achieving this goal.

In addition to augmenting and improving lighting and exhibition furniture, new interpretive materials will be created to engage and inform a variety of visitors. To bring in perspectives from around the Cornell campus, key works will receive additional labels written by professors from a variety of disciplines (for example, a horticulture professor identifying flower varieties in a Dutch still life painting). Interpretive materials will also incorporate information gleaned from visitor surveys and interviews about what visitors most want to learn about works of art. In addition, certain permanent collection works will receive special treatment as new stops on an NEA-supported cell phone audio tour, already in place for the Museum’s Asian collections; this audio tour will permit visitors to offer feedback as they tour the galleries.

The project represents the continuation of a phased reinstallation project. The Museum’s building expansion, scheduled to be completed and open to the public in 2011, will allow the Museum both to exhibit more of the collection and to provide more spacious housing for works of art in an expanded storage facility. The recent renovation of the Museum’s Asian art galleries was generously supported by NEA and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

An independent agency of the federal government, the National Endowment for the Arts advances artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman said, “NEA research shows that three out of four Americans participate in the arts. The diverse, innovative, and exceptional projects funded in this round will ensure that Americans around the country continue to have the opportunity to experience and participate in the arts.”

 

The Johnson Museum has a permanent collection of over 35,000 works of art from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Americas. The museum building was designed by I. M. Pei. Funds for the building were donated by Cornell alumnus Herbert F. Johnson, late president and chairman of S C Johnson. The building opened in 1973.

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The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, located on the campus of Cornell University, is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free. The Museum is accessible for mobility-impaired visitors, and a wheelchair is available in the lobby. Metered parking is available in the lot next to the Museum. For more information, please call 607 255-6464. Visit the Museum’s website at museum.cornell.edu. The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art is a member of Ithaca’s Discovery Trail: www.DiscoveryTrail.com.

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The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector.  To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at arts.gov.

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