The UNM Art Museum has long been at the center of the art world in New Mexico. On Sept. 10, more than 900 visitors attended the grand re-opening of the museum, featuring the premiere of a two-year, 9,000 square foot expansion and renovation that adds an entire floor to the facility. To celebrate, the Art Museum organized three important exhibitions to laud notable legacies in the visual arts in New Mexico: "Desire for Magic: Patrick Nagatani 1978-2008," "Tamarind Touchstones: Fabulous at 50" and "To Form from Air: Music and the Art of Raymond Jonson." Visit Art Museum.
The new elevator provides greater accessibility to the existing Main and lower level galleries and to the new third floor, housing the Clinton Adams Gallery, Beaumont Newhall Study Room, Enyeart/Malone Library and Archive, a media gallery, education classroom, restrooms and curatorial offices.
"Recognizing that the expansion and renovation of the Art Museum would provide beautiful new spaces for exhibition and study, two rooms are named for the late Clinton Adams, former dean and director of Tamarind Institute, and the late Beaumont Newhall, renowned professor emeritus of photography. These spaces are a fitting tribute to both of these men, whose importance is indelible at our institution," said E. Luanne McKinnon, director.
Take this photo tour and see how the UNM Art Museum looks today:
"The Clinton Adams Gallery is a large exhibition space that will accommodate all media, including new media and video installations," McKinnon said. Michele Penhall, curator of prints and photographs, said the venue is particularly appropriate for the current "Tamarind Touchstones: Fabulous at 50" exhibition because it honors Adams, who relocated Tamarind Institute to UNM from its original home in Los Angeles in 1971. A film on Adams is on view in the media gallery.
The Clinton Adams Gallery now occupies a portion of the space of the former Fine Arts Library, now the Fine Arts & Design Library on the fourth floor of George Pearl Hall.
"Beaumont Newhall is known as the ‘father of the history of photography,'" McKinnon said. He "taught at UNM from 1971 to 1984 following his illustrious career at the Museum of Modern Art, where he started the first Department of Photography in the United States."
The Beaumont Newhall Study Room gives access to the museum's extensive print and photography collections used by university and high school classes, faculty and scholars from many disciplines. "Viewing real works of art is an invaluable learning experience which is somewhat lost in today's world of digital images and PowerPoint presentations," Penhall said.
The Newhall Study Room also includes a small library and custom-designed easels for displaying and reviewing prints and photographs during classes and for research.
Compact storage units help make the most of the new Collections Vault adjacent to the Newhall Study Room. Tinted windows and museum grade eco-solar shades block 97percent of the ultraviolet light, making it possible to combine the demands of conservation and preservation with the comfort of natural light. State-of-the-art heating, cooling and ventilation systems also guarantee preservation of the museum's collection, primarily of works on paper.
Penhall said space in the former vault was filled to capacity. The new Collections Vault provides increased space for the ever-expanding collection.
The Raymond Jonson Gallery is named for Raymond Jonson (1891-1982), who founded the original gallery on the UNM campus in 1950. It was Jonson's home and studio for more than 30 years, and a fully-functioning gallery and archive for another 25 years before the gallery moved to the UNM Art Museum last year. "Although much of the artist's personality and the direct connection to his life were lost in the move, the new exhibition and storage spaces are a vast improvement and far more appropriate for a collection of such importance," said Raymond Jonson Curator Robert Ware.
Jonson, UNM professor 1934-54, bequeathed his archives and about 2,400 artworks to UNM, including his own and works by B.J.O. Nordfeldt, Josef Albers, Elaine de Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Agnes Martin and others.
Trained in Chicago in the 1910s, Jonson inaugurated with Taos modernist Emil Bisttram the Transcendental Painting Group in Santa Fe in 1938, a collaboration of New Mexico's premier non-objective painters who were steeped in European aesthetics and who stood in stark contrast to the general artistic conservatism of the Southwest.
Several of Jonson's most important paintings are featured in "To Form Air: Music and the Art of Raymond Jonson," the opening exhibition of the gallery's new home on the lower level of the Art Museum.
The new, custom-designed Enyeart/Malone Library and Archive offers a comprehensive survey on the history of photography and important personal archives from leading photography scholars, educators and artists James Enyeart and his wife, Roxanne Malone.
Curated by Michele Penhall, the Main Gallery features a 30-year retrospective of photographer Patrick Nagatani, UNM professor emeritus. In addition to access via the elevator, the Main Gallery features new lighting instrumentation for the first time in nearly 50 years.
The Van Deren Coke Gallery, adjacent to the Main Gallery, is named for the founder and first director of the UNM Art Museum. Penhall said he understood the importance of photographs and prints early on when they could be easily acquired. The Coke gifts, along with those by Newhall, comprise the backbone of the photography collection, especially in 19th century works.
Sara Otto-Diniz, curator, academic initiatives, said the addition of the media gallery (above), classroom and Clinton Adams Gallery allow "increased opportunities for exhibitions, interpretive materials such as interviews with artists which are screened in the media gallery, and a space for both university classes and K-12 students to meet, participate in workshops and create art."
In addition to making all levels of the Art Museum more accessible and Americans with Disabilities Act compliant, the elevator makes it possible to move art more safely and securely, Penhall said.
The Museum Book Shelf in the newly reconfigured museum foyer specializes in art books with especial focus upon museum publications, including three new books accompanying the Nagatani, Tamarind and Jonson exhibitions. The Museum Book Shelf also stocks important art titles from leading art museums and scholars.