Looking Back...Outreach Key to Art Museum's Success (from the 32nd
Since 1952, the Hunterdon Museum of Art
has enjoyed growth and prestige in the landmark stone grist mill on the South
Branch of the Raritan River. Located centrally in the artistically developing,
historic town of Clinton, New Jersey, it offers an extraordinarily beautiful
environment in which to view art. The mill itself, four stories of treasured
beams and stone walls, is listed on the National and State Historic
Registrations, and in itself is well worth a visit. The site is but the
introduction to a facility which houses exhibitions of modern and contemporary
art, ranging from the cutting edge to the traditional, and featuring established
as well as emerging artists. The museum mounts about a dozen exhibitions each
year and presents a series of other programs.
In 1779 through 1789 wheat was ground
in the mill on this site for Washington’s soldiers when they were encamped
nearby. It was rebuilt in 1836 and shortly afterwards it had become a sausage
factory and a blacksmith’s shop. There was a great fire in the town of Clinton
in 1891, at which time the roof of this central building ignited. Eventually, a
group of public spirited citizens recognized its historic value and purchased it
to be used as an art center. The building was placed on the State and National
Historic Registers in 1981, but it didn’t stop the great flood of the South
Branch of the Raritan River in 1984 from causing enormous structural damage. The
following year an extensive rehabilitation and renovation project was begun. At
last, major flood control systems were installed, waterproofing of the
foundation and installation of museum-standard environment, security controls,
and barrier-free accessibility updated this important site. In 1997 the Trustees
of the Art Center voted to change the name to the Hunterdon Museum of Art.
Tim Nussbaum, Listening,
acrylic on resin, edition of 9.
From Degrees of Figuration
Photo courtesy of Hunterdon Museum of Art.
Summer camp students with masks
they made. Photo courtesy of
Hunterdon Museum of Art.
The museum’s print collection, named
after printmaker/donor Anne Steele Marsh, was the catalyst which helped create
the standards for the designation as museum.
The print collection consists of more than three hundred prints made since the
1930s. Noted artists and other donors have contributed to this collection and it
has been lauded by jurors and collectors alike. Eligible institutions and
corporations are able to rent prints from this impressive collection for display
in their establishments.
The Hunterdon Museum of Art has always
sought to promote further interest in art for the community by offering classes
in a variety of media to students of all ages. A summer art camp is offered for
children as young as three-and-a-half, specially designed to awaken creativity.
The offerings are extremely imaginative. The museum likes to refer to these
workshops as, “An Art Odyssey,” in which the finest artists in their fields
are selected for faculty. Teens have an opportunity to learn while helping the
younger children. Adult studio courses are frequently scheduled at times
convenient for those with children registered in the camp. Adult courses are
held throughout the year.
The stone mill. Photo courtesy of the
Hunterdon Museum of Art.
The dramatic setting of the mill
invites regional use as the scene for private events. It is indeed rented to
responsible clients for weddings and receptions of all kinds – private and
business. The walls are always aglow with art and the waterfall outside provides
the nourishing sound of nature alive. Children’s parties are a special feature
which offer parents choices from a variety of projects which entertain and
educate the youngsters while they celebrate and have fun.
An exhibition this past December and
January emphasized the strong identification of the museum with its home
state. Thirty five artists who were 1999 and 2000 recipients of
fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts exhibited the best
of New Jersey art in categories
of painting, works on paper, sculpture, photography, media, crafts and
new/emerging genres. Each year
there is a Members Exhibition in the spring, and this year’s National Juried
Print Exhibition is the museum’s forty-fifth. It will be on view through July
22, 2001. Exhibitions run from three to five weeks and are juried by prominent
curators in their fields. An invitation is graciously extended to all for
membership in the museum.
Director Marjorie Frankel Nathanson is
looking ahead to the summer season and the rest of 2001 “with the hope that it
will be a year of continued success and growth.”