FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 14, 2011
PHILADELPHIA – Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia’s premier institution for interpreting the art and culture of the Philadelphia region, opens its doors to visitors for free all summer long through September 23. The exhibitions Still Life and Selections from the Charles Knox Smith Collection – currently on display in the Founder’s, Parlor and Corridor galleries – showcase works from Woodmere’s permanent collection.
Woodmere’s store, featuring an array of distinctive jewelry, ceramics, textiles and more by local artists, will also remain open during the summer months.
Woodmere’s other gallery spaces will remain closed as the museum undergoes building renovations and updates to the museum’s climate control system and roof in the summer months. The roof of the museum has been redesigned by Dan McCoubrey of Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, an architectural planning and design firm in Philadelphia. The renovation will transform what was once a flat roof with longstanding pooling problems into a roof with an increased pitch to ensure that it sheds water quickly and completely. In addition to the roof work, the museum’s Climate Control equipment will be replaced. (Additional renovation details are included below.)
Now through September 23, the museum will close earlier on Fridays. Summer hours are: Tuesday through Friday 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m., and Sunday 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Late Friday evening hours will return in the fall. Woodmere is located at 9201 Germantown Avenue in the historic cobblestoned Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia. For visitor information, call (215) 247-0476 or visit www.woodmereartmuseum.org.
EXHIBITIONS ON DISPLAY
Woodmere’s collection is rich in still life across a variety of media. On display in the Corridor Gallery are paintings and drawings that have long been anchors in the Museum’s holdings, along with recent gifts and loans from close friends of the institution. Women artists, well represented at Woodmere, created all of the still life paintings in the exhibition. This is the legacy of Edith Emerson, Woodmere’s director from 1940 to 1978. Emerson was an artist herself who approached art made by women with the same seriousness as she did art made by men. Woodmere has continued to build on Emerson’s work.
Selections from the Charles Knox Smith Collection
Charles Knox Smith (1845–1916), founder of Woodmere Art Museum, believed that collecting art was a noble journey with a moral, spiritual, and patriotic dimension. Born in 1845, the defining political and social event of Smith’s life was the Civil War, and his collection is grounded in the social context of post Civil War Philadelphia. Certain works of art tell stories that are directly tied to the war, like Franklin Briscoe’s Picket’s Charge, which shows the final push of the confederates against General Meade at Gettysburg, and Sarah Fisher Ames’ extraordinary marble bust, Abraham Lincoln, which is among the greatest treasures of Smith’s collection.
Other works of art tell stories of nobility and self-sacrifice, such as Benjamin West’s The Fatal Wounding Sir Philip Sydney (1806), and Edward Harrison May’s Lady Jane Gray Going to Her Execution (1864). Smith was a devout and pious man, and he collected landscape paintings by such great American artists of the 19th century as Frederic Edwin Church, Jasper Cropsey, and Edwin Darch Lewis that expressed the cycles of day and night, life and death, and the spirituality of nature.
ROOFING AND CLIMATE CONTROL REPLACEMENT PROJECT
As part of the roofing and climate control replacement project at Woodmere, all of the 1987 vintage equipment, including a 40-ton air handler and ductwork, have been removed from the roof of the museum. This equipment provided conditioned air to the exhibition galleries and had reached the end of its useful life.
Prior to demolition, because the roof area over the collection storage facility would be affected, the museum’s collection was moved into several exhibition galleries. These galleries have been equipped with temporary portable climate control equipment, which will provide conditioned air to the collection until the roof over the storage facility has been replaced. Temporary air conditioning units have also been installed in the Corridor, Founder’s, and Parlor Galleries to provide an environment that permits artwork to remain in place and allow public access. All of the Climate Control equipment will be replaced, with the exception of the boilers.
The roof project is not simply a replacement, but a redesign. Dan McCoubrey of Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates has redesigned what was once a flat roof with longstanding pooling problems. The new roof will have increased pitch to ensure that it sheds water quickly and completely. Roof runoff will be directed into French Drains, which with a civil engineer’s stamp, will reduce stormwater billing.
Woodmere will open two new exhibitions on September 25 (running through January 8, 2012), showcasing a collection of modernist and contemporary art of Philadelphia from the museum’s permanent collection and the promised gift of Karen Segal (comprised of 82 paintings), as well as the work of Philadelphia modern painter Mary G. L. Hood (1886–1967). The museum will also reopen the exhibition Violet Oakley: The Building of the House of Wisdom, featuring Oakley’s monumental mural cycle, from September 25 through November 6, 2011.
Flirting with Abstraction: Modernist and Contemporary Art of Philadelphia and the Promised Gift of Karen Segal and Woodmere’s Collectionwill present the richness and variety of Woodmere’s collection of abstract painting and sculpture. Innumerable artists of our time have used the language of abstraction—color, line, texture, scale, and form—to express the ideas, emotions, and sensuality of life’s experiences.
Women artists were central to the evolution of modern art in twentieth-century Philadelphia. Mary G.L. Hood and Philadelphia Modernism explores the work of Mary Hood, who worked and exhibited in Philadelphia and later in New Hope, Pennsylvania, from the 1930s through the 1960s, and paintings by her daughter, Agnes Lawson Hood Miller (1908–1967), alongside other artists who similarly found their voices amid the convergence of modernist forces in the region.
Additional exhibition details and related gallery talks will be announced soon.
# # #