Berman Celebrates 20 Years & New Wing with Events

Celebrating a milestone 20th year, The Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College is opening its collection to the community with the addition of a new, visible storage wing. A distinctive glass façade and its rooftop sculpture terrace foster renewed interaction between art and the community, and allow immediate accessibility of the permanent collection.

The public is welcome to a Community Day open House Sunday Oct. 24 from 1 to 4 p.m.

New Addition to Berman Museum of Art

Two exhibitions and a major symposium on museums and their role in the community, will mark the wing’s opening and the Museum’s 20-year anniversary.  (Pictured, Dr. Amy Meyers, see Sympoisum, below).

The 4,200 square-foot Henry W. and June Pfeiffer Wing caps a $4 million expansion and renovation project designed by the Philadelphia architectural firm Towers & Miller. The addition provides storage and lecture space, a works on paper study area and new galleries including the Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation Sculpture Terrace. The visibility of the Museum’s permanent collection is enhanced through the addition of state-of-the-art open storage vitrines. Before the wing, there were more than 3,000 paintings, drawings, sculpture and cultural artifacts in the Berman permanent collection which had to be housed in basement storage.

“The new Pfeiffer Wing, an imaginative, welcoming space that is open, transparent, dynamic and light, echoes the philosophical foundation of the museum’s mission to capture and engage a diverse audience,” according to Director Lisa Hanover. “The magnificent wing, inside and out, truly makes the Museum a national model for academic art museums,” she said. “Our goal was that the collection would be visible beyond the walls of the museum.”

The historic stone building was originally constructed in 1921 as the Alumni Memorial Library and was later used as a student union. The Museum was dedicated in 1989, when the late Philip and Muriel Berman, business leaders and philanthropists, found a home for their extraordinary collections of contemporary sculpture, American paintings, works on paper and folk art, joining an existing collection of 18th and 19th Century American and European paintings. Twenty years later, the Museum houses more than 4,000 notable works of art and attracts more than 35,000 visitors annually. The new Henry W. and June Pfeiffer Wing is named for longtime Trustee and museum supporter Henry ‘Hank’ Pfeiffer, Class of 1948, and his late wife, June.

Two exhibitions will mark the anniversary and new wing opening:

All My Places: Landscapes, Portraits & Whimsy – The Art of Karl J. Kuerner, opened Sept. 1 and continues until Dec. 15 in the Main Gallery.

Kuerner’s compositions celebrate the rich tradition of the Brandywine Region. The Kuerner Farm and its inhabitants are captured in every season and the work are poignant analogies for the ebb and flow of life’s events. Kuerner was born in 1957 in Chadds Ford, Pa. in 1957 and he watched Andrew Wyeth paint some of his greatest works at his grandparent’s farm.  His artistic talent was recognized and nurtured by Carolyn Wyeth, sister of Andrew Wyeth and a renowned artist in her own right.  Under her tutelage, he discovered an art form that would provide him with the avenue with which he could add to the rich heritage of the Brandywine Valley.  His work has been exhibited overseas in Nigeria, Belgium, and Togo in connection with the Art in Embassies program, and exhibited in the state capitol in Harrisburg in 2006.  His first book, All in a Day’s Work-from Heritage to Artist, was published in 2008.  His work has been featured in many other publications such as The Mother of All Arts by Gene Logdan, Artist’s Speaking for Themselves?the Artist of Chester County by Daphne Landis, and The Land of Truth and Phantasy by Richard McLellan.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game: Legacies of Baseball from the Alan Novak Collection, is on view through Dec. 15 in the Upper Gallery. An opening reception is planned Oct. 1, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Novak’s collection of original works of art and material culture related to the game of baseball is focused and based on the historic and important figures of the game.  He began his collection primarily with memorabilia related to the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Yankees, and has since expanded his interests to the Philadelphia Athletics and to the context of major accomplishments by athletes such as Satchel Page, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Thurman Munson, Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, and many others. This exhibition will include original paintings by Dick Perez, Tom Moser, Stephen Holland and Gerry Dvorak.  Several original works by Arthur Miller, will be included. Complementing the paintings will be a diverse and significant collection of unique baseball memorabilia including 19th century Harper’s and Leslie’s woodcuts, T-3’s (Tobacco Cards) and silks, a 1927 Yankees signed ball, Joe DiMaggio’s 1937 Player of the Year Award, Thurman Munson trophies, a split bat from the 1941 All Star Game, signed by the respective teams from the National and American Leagues, a bat attributed to Lou Gehrig, and 1869 Red Stockings etching. The National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum, based in Cooperstown, New York, will also be lending significant objects and memorabilia from its permanent collection. Novak, a 1971 graduate of Ursinus College, is an attorney with Conrad O’Brien, West Chester, Pa.

Amy Meyers, Director, Yale University Center for British Art, who will receive an honorary degree from Ursinus College, will be a keynote speaker. The symposium will address the themes of architecture and renovation and its impact on contemplative spaces; how physical space supports academic, educational and programmatic goals; and how the role of the museum has changed in communities. — W.G.