September 2017

Although the summer inevitably disappears far too quickly, it’s a wonderful time for us to welcome visitors to the Johnson Museum. This summer’s beautiful restoration of the Rebecca Q. and James C. Morgan Garden was a highlight, and it was inspiring to see people enjoying the newly renovated garden. One of my own favorite habits is to stand in the fifth-floor Asian galleries gazing north over Cayuga Lake and then peering straight down into the garden. Surrounded by the remarkable works from our permanent collection and viewing the Japanese garden’s signature red pine from above makes it perfectly clear why our creative partnerships with Cornell’s Asian studies programs are so successful. Thanks to the Morgans’ continuing generosity, which includes the endowment of a new internship, the Johnson is poised to significantly enhance these important connections.

We are keenly aware of the myriad ways in which the Museum’s teaching and research collaborations inform the exceptional works of art we bring to campus. Our second partnership with the Taipei Fine Arts Museum has resulted in the exhibition Power, Haunting, and Resilience, which converges with the Einaudi Center for International Studies’ semester theme of “Haunting.” Along with a stunning solo show of photographs and video by Iraqi-born artist Sama Alshaibi, these exhibitions provoke questions about the ideals of freedom and pressing issues of borders, migration, and the environment. Our commitment to introducing audiences to work that promotes cross-cultural understanding is also a priority in our permanent collection galleries. I encourage visitors to wander throughout the entire Museum but in particular to visit the fifth floor, where Cornell students in a Spring 2017 seminar selected a thought-provoking group of works for a special exhibition, Remaining Echo: Facets of Haunting in Asian Art.

One of Cornell’s most popular courses is “Introductory Oceanography,” taught in Bailey Hall and attracting some eight hundred students every fall. From the Darkness of the Sea was planned to coincide with this class and highlights Cornell’s collection of exquisite and scientifically accurate nineteenth-century glass marine animals by artists Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka. These fascinating model sea creatures—among them jellyfish, octopus, and tentacled squid—provide an unparalleled opportunity to inspire all audiences to think about how art and science meaningfully intersect across the ages. Our ongoing efforts to collaborate with scientists and engineers to bring new insights to the understanding of art is the subject of Lines of Inquiry: Learning from Rembrandt’s Etchings. This impressive exhibition not only highlights a stellar group of sixty-five Rembrandt prints from a variety of American collections but also presents groundbreaking technical investigations that have been underway at the Johnson since 2015. 

It promises to be an exciting fall at the Johnson Museum. We look forward to welcoming you to discover new art and challenge yourself to think differently!

Stephanie Wiles Johnson Museum Cornell

Stephanie Wiles
The Richard J. Schwartz Director