Event Offers Glimpse Into New Harvard Art Museums

An air of excitement filled the room Wednesday night as museum staff and community members crowded into Sackler Lecture Hall to hear about behind-the-scenes planning for the opening of the renovated Harvard Art Museums facility, set to open its doors this fall.

Fogg Reopening
After undergoing several years of construction, the Fogg Museum is expected to reopen in the fall of 2014. The reconstruction of the museum is part of a larger initiative to merge Harvard’s art collection into one building.

The night marked the fourth and final installment of “In-Sight Evening: Preparing for the New Harvard Art Museums,” an event series that began in 2012. The series has let museum organizers offer updates on the planning and vision for the new facility, which will combine all of Harvard’s art museums in a single location for the first time.

On Wednesday night, Jessica L. Martinez ’95, the director of the Museums’ Division of Academic and Public Programs, provided attendees with a preview of what the new building will look like. She also discussed new features of the facility, such as study spaces and a lightbox gallery.

As an example of the curatorial work that has been done in preparation for the opening, the presentation shifted to a discussion of an installation set to debut in the fall: "'Untitled' (Portrait of Michael Jenkins)" by Félix Gonzáles-Torres.

The portrait, which will be a permanent installation on the third floor of the newly renovated Calderwood courtyard, consists of words and dates that were significant to Michael Jenkins’s life and features important historical moments that took place while he was alive. To install the art, museum staff needed to either add or delete the words that Gonzáles-Torres had created.

Mary Schneider Enriquez, the Museums’ associate curator of modern and contemporary art and presenter of the portrait, acknowledged that the work, which contains only text, differs from traditional portraits.

“Who we are is much more than our image,” she said, emphasizing the importance of Gonzáles-Torres’s contribution to portraiture.

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