McMullen Museum of Art facts for kids
The museum, which opened in Devlin Hall in 1993, was officially named The Charles S. and Isabella V. McMullen Museum of Art in 1996 in honor of the parents of the Boston College benefactor, trustee and art collector John J. McMullen.
In September 2016, the museum relocated to 2101 Commonwealth Avenue on Boston College's Brighton Campus. The new facility features nearly two times the exhibition space of its previous location in Devlin Hall, state-of-the art lighting, movable walls, humidity and climate control, and extensive storage for the museum's growing permanent collection.
Despite being a university art museum residing on a college campus, the McMullen Museum of Art organizes multidisciplinary exhibitions that have received national and international recognition. Stephen Kinzer of the New York Times has written that it is in the vanguard of museums creating exhibitions that "reach far beyond traditional art history", providing political, historical, and cultural context for works on view.
The Museum holds an extensive permanent collection that spans the history of art from Europe, Asia and the Americas, and has significant representation of Gothic and Baroque tapestries, Italian paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries, and American paintings of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Well-known artists represented in the museum include Amedeo Modigliani, Frank Stella, Françoise Gilot, Alexander Ney, and John La Farge.
The McMullen Museum has hosted more than sixty exhibitions over two decades. They have been curated by both internal teams of scholars from the Boston College and international specialists. Being a university museum, the focus of the exhibitions is the generation of new knowledge in all disciplinary fields of art history.
Recent significant exhibitions include:
- "Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections" (2016);
- "Paul Klee: Philosophical Vision; From Nature to Art", with which the McMullen Museum of Art reopen for its fall 2012 season;
- "Pollock Matters" (2007) received much media attention, comprising over 150 paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculptures, exploring the personal and artistic relationship between famed American Abstract Expressionist painter Jackson Pollock and noted Swiss-born photographer and graphic designer Herbert Matter;
- A retrospective of the work of Surrealist Roberto Matta (2004), organized by university faculty from the romance languages, art history, and theology departments, was also well received;
- "Edvard Munch: Psyche, Symbol, and Expression" (2001) was the largest American exhibition of Munch's work since 1978;
- "Saints and Sinners: Caravaggio and the Baroque Image" (1999), featuring as its centerpiece the first North American appearance of the then-recently rediscovered masterpiece by Italian Baroque artist Caravaggio,The Taking of Christ. This exhibition, by any reckoning, has outshone by far all other McMullen exhibitions, previous and subsequent, both in terms of the amount of international media attention and attendance numbers it received. It effectively first put the McMullen Museum "on the map."
Portugal, Jesuits, and Japan
"Portugal, Jesuits, and Japan: Spiritual Beliefs and Earthly Goods" opened in the McMullen Museum on February 16, 2013. It was curated by Victoria Weston and Alexandra Curvelo, and was underwritten by Boston College, the Patrons of the McMullen Museum, Leslie and Peter Ciampi, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal, the Consulate General of Portugal in Boston, and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
The exhibit focuses on nearly a century of interaction, beginning in 1543, between the Japanese people and the Portuguese, namely traders and Jesuit missionaries. Tracing shifts in the dichotomy of this relationship through the exchange of earthly goods and beliefs, Portugal, Jesuits, And Japan paints a winsome, complex, and devastating portrait of a provincial fascination.
Cao Jun: Hymns to Nature
The exhibition "Cao Jun: Hymns to Nature" opened on February 5, 2018 in the Daley Family and Monan Galleries and was curated by the American philosopher John Sallis. It is the first exhibition of the Chinese artist in the United States. He previously traveled throughout Europe, New Zealand and the polar regions, where he drew inspiration from natural landscapes to create his calligraphic paintings. The exhibition examines Cao Jun's innovative way to depict nature between ancient Chinese sensibility and techniques and Western abstraction forms.
Exhibits included both his early works depicting animals and later works of calligraphy, porcelain and paintings, where he employed the techniques of ink- and color-splashing to render mountain landscapes, water and flowers. The exhibition concluded with more recent abstract works exploring the various configurations in which spatial phenomena can appear. Being curated by a philosopher, the investigation of the philosophical and poetic dimensions of Cao Jun's work was also central in the conception of the exhibition.
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