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Berman Museum of Art Opens New Wing and Celebrates 20-year Anniversary

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 glass façade and its new rooftop sculpture terrace, both a distinctive presence viewed from the street, fosters new interaction between art and the community and allows immediate accessibility of the permanent collection.

Two exhibitions and a series of events, including a symposium on museums and their role in the community, will mark the new wing’s opening, and the Museum’s 20-year anniversary.

Throughout its 20-years on the Ursinus campus, what has set the Berman Museum of Art program apart is the investment in an active integration into the liberal art, says Lisa T. Hanover, the museum’s director since its inception. Its audiences are a blend of students, faculty and staff, plus visiting community professionals, tourists, artists and collectors.

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 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 Hanover. “The magnificent wing, inside and out, truly makes the Museum a national model for academic art museums,” she said.

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.

“Our goal was that the collection would be visible beyond the walls of the museum,” said Hanover. The climate-controlled light-regulating display cases are modeled after the Smithsonian Institute’s American Art Museum Luce Open Storage Center.

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 art 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, will open Sept. 1 and continue until Dec. 15 in the Main Gallery. An artist reception will be held Sept. 26 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Kuerner’s compositions celebrate the rich tradition of the Brandywine Region and are identified with a superb approach to the landscape, architectural icons and a palette that reflects the light and flavor of this environment. 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 Chadds Ford, Pa. in 1957 to Margaret and Karl Kuerner, Jr. 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.
Kuerner’s work has been exhibited overseas in Nigeria, Belgium, and Togo in connection with the Art in Embassies program. His work was 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.

Also, in the Upper Gallery, Take Me Out to the Ball Game: Legacies of Baseball from the Alan Novak Collection, will be on view Sept. 16 through Dec. 15. 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. He has since expanded his interests to the Philadelphia Athletics and to the context of major accomplishments by singular athletes such as Satchel Page, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Thurman Munson, Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, and many others.

Novak is a 1971 graduate of Ursinus College and is an Attorney at Law with Conrad O’Brien, West Chester, Pa. This exhibition will include original paintings by Dick Perez, Tom Moser, Stephen Holland and Gerry Dvorak. Several original works by Arthur Miller, known for his brilliant portraits of the great players in baseball history, will also 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.

Novak has commissioned an original painting by Arthur Miller of Yogi Berra, a key member of the New York Yankees from 1946 – 1963. The collector and artist will be present for the unveiling of this canvas at a special opening event planned for mid-September. The National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum, based in Cooperstown, New York, will also be lending significant objects and memorabilia from their permanent collection.

The Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus, known for its diverse collection and innovative educational programming, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday; and noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Museum is closed Mondays and college holidays. The Museum is accessible to the physically disabled and admission is free. The museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums. Exhibitions and programs are funded in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and annual support from Epps Advertising.

The Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College
601 E. Main Street Collegeville, PA 19426-1000
Telephone: 610-409-3500
Facsimile: 610-409-3664

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