December 2013 saw the unveiling of the renovated permanent collection galleries on the second floor, now rededicated to European art from ancient Greece through 1800. The project sprang from a desire to enhance the accessibility of the European collections, creating an atmosphere of enjoyment and learning for campus and community. Goals included harmonizing smaller premodern artworks with the intimate scale of the second-floor galleries and developing new adjacencies for key works. Walls were resurfaced for the first time since the Museum opened in 1973, and new paint colors were chosen.

New acquisitions, art from storage, and exciting long-term loans now complement permanent-collection favorites and better illustrate thematic ideas. Works on paper feature in every gallery, increasing access to treasures like a Rembrandt etching or a Fragonard drawing, while tapping prints’ wide range of subject matter to contextualize paintings, sculpture, and other objects on view. Visitors can learn about ancient art and its echoes through later periods, experience the variety of Christian devotion in medieval Europe, learn about trade and collecting in the Dutch Golden Age, and see the eighteenth-century proliferation of drawing. Nearly two hundred works are on view, representing an increase of close to 200%.

Interpretive innovations enrich the physical improvements to the galleries. Newly researched wall texts are often accompanied by expanded informational entries on our website's Collections section that highlight new discoveries about the objects, provenance information, and links to comparative images. All online information is accessible in the galleries either by smartphone or via a dedicated iPad kiosk. In addition, selected works now offer cell phone tour entries, some including period music selections. These enhancements will continue to benefit from ongoing curatorial research and input from faculty, students, and community visitors.

The new second-floor galleries constitute just the first phase of this project; 2014 will see the renovation and reinstallation of our first-floor galleries, with European and American art from 1800 to the present. The renovation and reinstallation project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and by the generosity of Museum Members and donors.