The Johnson Museum feels stronger than ever in this new year. Every one of our permanent collection galleries is now beautifully reinstalled, we have a great lineup of new shows to help celebrate Cornell’s Sesquicentennial, and each department of the Museum has ambitious new projects underway.
First and foremost is the brilliant new installation of the first-floor galleries, the final phase in reimagining the entire permanent collection. The completion of the new wing in 2011 set this process in motion, having enabled the restructuring of the fifth floor’s Asian art galleries and leading to the subsequent rethinking of the second-floor displays. We have now reconceived the first floor to give visitors a new look at the Museum’s holdings of art since 1800, with freshly painted walls in new colors helping to show these works in their best light. New approaches were taken, as seen most dramatically in the dense salon-style wall of nineteenth-century paintings, but also in galleries which group works not solely by chronology but by theme. The complete reinstallation of our permanent collection was an enormous project, the result of years of planning, close collaboration, and hard work by the Museum’s entire staff. I’d like to thank all of my colleagues for their part in making this tremendous undertaking such a great success.
The careful reexamination of our collection has also informed the exhibitions on view this semester. Naturally, the Sesquicentennial inspired many choices, from the plaster casts acquired for teaching when Cornell was still a fledgling institution to the work of celebrated photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White, Class of 1927. Her beautiful photographs of Cornell’s campus and its architecture are evocative souvenirs of her years here, as well as early indicators of the talent that brought her worldwide fame. Looking through her student prints—the Museum is fortunate to own more than twenty of these early works—I felt again the lasting impact our beautiful and unique campus has on all who spend time here.
Our excitement about these new galleries, exhibitions, and programs has led us to newly invest in keeping the Museum open on Thursdays until 8 p.m. this semester, beginning with our opening reception on Thursday, February 5 and continuing through Thursday, April 30. During these extended hours, our visitors will have a chance to learn from scholars, meet artists, or simply wander through our galleries and shows. We look forward to seeing you on Thursday evenings and to hearing your feedback.
Come visit us soon—and visit us often!
The Richard J. Schwartz Director