BOSTON COLLEGE’S MCMULLEN MUSEUM OF ART OPENS NEW, ENLARGED CAMPUS VENUE ON COMMONWEALTH AVENUE
Debut Manuscript Exhibition in September: Concurrent Venues at
Harvard Library, Gardner Museum
CHESTNUT HILL, MA (June 2016) — The McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College, which has offered renowned, critically acclaimed exhibitions for more than two decades, will debut a world-class space at 2101 Commonwealth Avenue beginning in September.
An important cultural resource, the Museum presents exhibitions that rival those in far larger, comprehensive museums and provides the Greater Boston community with an intimate and often exclusive view of diverse and outstanding art.
Funded in part by a gift to Boston College from the McMullen Family Foundation, the new venue, built in 1927 in the Roman Renaissance Revival style, now includes 30,000 gross-square feet of space and triples the Museum’s exhibition areas.
“The renovation and expansion of this landmark Renaissance Revival building has created a state-of-the-art facility that will enhance the McMullen’s role as a leading presenter of exhibitions of international importance and multi-use spaces for displaying Old Master and American paintings from the Museum’s collection,” said McMullen Museum Director and Professor of Art History Nancy Netzer. “With this building the McMullen joins the ranks of this country’s finest university museum facilities.
“We are grateful for the leadership of Boston College President William P. Leahy, SJ, and to the Patrons of the McMullen led by C. Michael Daley, and to faculty, staff, students, alumni/ae, and friends of Boston College who contributed to the vision for the project and supported it from its inception. I particularly thank the McMullen Family Foundation for their generous lead gift to the project and Jacqueline McMullen, in particular, for being the most wise, informed, engaged, and gracious benefactor with whom a director could hope to collaborate,” she added.
“The McMullen Museum of Art has a well-earned reputation for organizing and hosting world-class exhibitions that bring scholars from around campus and across the globe into conversation about the visual arts and the humanities more broadly,” said Boston College Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley.
“The McMullen has over the last two decades enriched our campus culture and attracted audiences from around the Boston area and well beyond. The Museum’s marvelous new home on the Brighton Campus is cause for campus-wide celebration as it affords expanded and glorious new space for future exhibitions,” he added.
The new venue features main galleries on the second floor, a smaller gallery and support space on the third, and a large rooftop terrace. A University conference center with reception rooms on the first floor displays Old Master and nineteenth-century American paintings from the Museum’s permanent collection. (More below on the building.)
“The journey to establish a permanent home for the McMullen Museum of Art has culminated with great excitement producing a magnificent new and expanded state-of-the-art facility which will afford the McMullen the opportunity to attract world-class exhibitions and programs to our campus to better serve and inform our students, faculty, and the Greater Boston community,” said 1958 alumnus C. Michael Daley, chair of the Patrons’ Committee of the McMullen Museum of Art and parent of 1980 and 1988 BC graduates.
More on the New Venue
Beginning in 2014, the architecture firm DiMella Shaffer reconfigured the existing 23,000-square-foot space and designed a three-story, 7,000-square-foot glass addition. The renovation preserved the building’s exterior façade, with a design that complements the architecture of the existing building designed by architectural firm Maginnis and Walsh in 1927.
The two main exhibition galleries greatly enlarge the Museum’s previous temporary exhibition space. The Daley Family Gallery on the second floor—named through a gift from C. Michael and Janet Daley—is 4,800 square-feet. An open-plan sculpture gallery on the third floor leads to the 925 square-foot Monan Gallery, named through a gift from 1978 BC alumnus Christopher Toomey in honor of BC Chancellor and former President J. Donald Monan, SJ. Movable gallery walls allow the spaces to be tailored for each exhibition’s works of art.
Artist John La Farge Stained Glass Triptych
The glass atrium offers generous natural light and views of the formal lawn and grounds. It also showcases a 127-year-old stained glass triptych by American stained glass artist John La Farge (1835–1910), a recent gift to the University from McMullen Museum Patrons William Vareika, a 1974 alumnus, and his wife Alison, the parents of 2009 and 2015 BC graduates. The gift was made in honor of BC President William P. Leahy, SJ, Chancellor J. Donald Monan, SJ, the late William B. Neenan, SJ, who was vice president and special assistant to the president, and John La Farge, SJ, the artist’s son.
The triptych features a preaching Christ, St. John the Evangelist, and St. Paul. The three panels—each of which weighs approximately 150 pounds—underwent fifteen months of restoration in 2013–15 and were the centerpiece of an acclaimed exhibition on La Farge presented last fall at the McMullen Museum.
In addition, a temporary exhibition of eight recent paintings by BC Professor of Art, Andrew Tavarelli, entitled Global Convergences has been installed in the McMullen’s new atrium.
Benefactors: The Late John McMullen and Wife Jacqueline
The new Museum is made possible through the support of longtime benefactors and namesakes: The late John McMullen, who served on the Boston College Board of Trustees, and his wife, Jacqueline, who shared a deep interest in art and collecting. Mr. McMullen was a naval architect, businessman, marine engineer, and a former owner of the New Jersey Devils and Houston Astros.
“The new facility provides a more welcoming and accessible venue with expanded features for members of the community,” said Jacqueline McMullen, whose family’s connection to Boston College spans three generations. “We hope to share the Museum’s groundbreaking exhibitions with an even wider audience.
“Our hopes are for a university museum that focuses on scholarly research and on educating the next generation of museum goers, curators, and trustees. The McMullen Family Foundation has always had the education of students and the public at large as one of its primary goals. Through this new Museum we endeavor to foster a heightened appreciation and enthusiasm for art among BC and other Boston-area students.”
Inaugural Exhibition: “Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections”
The McMullen’s inaugural exhibition (September 12–December 11, 2016), Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections, is the first to showcase highlights of medieval and Renaissance illumination in the Boston area—collections that comprise one of the most important ensembles of illuminated manuscripts anywhere in North America. Beyond Words is the continent’s largest exhibition of these works.
In another first, the exhibition will be displayed at three concurrent Boston venues: the McMullen, Harvard University’s Houghton Library, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Each venue will highlight one of the three principal contexts for the production of books in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and related developments in design, script, and decoration.
An opening celebration at the McMullen Museum—which will preview Beyond Words and welcome community members, will be held on September 10 and 11 from noon to 5 p.m., with lectures at 2 p.m. on both days. Nancy Netzer will deliver “The McMullen: Building a University Museum outside the Box” on Saturday and Jeffrey F. Hamburger, a curator of the Beyond Words exhibition, will offer “Devotion and Invention in a Mass of St. Gregory by the Master of the Houghton Miniatures (a.k.a. Hugo van der Goes?)” on Sunday.
McMullen Museum of Art
The McMullen Museum has consistently won critical acclaim from national and international media for its presentation of groundbreaking interdisciplinary exhibitions on such renowned artists as Edvard Munch, Paul Klee, Georges Rouault, Wifredo Lam, and Gustave Courbet and that feature classical archaeology and material culture (Roman in the Provinces: Art on the Periphery of Empire, Rural Ireland: The Inside Story) and decorative arts (Cosmophilia, Portugal, Jesuits, and Japan: Spiritual Beliefs and Earthly Goods). According to a Wall Street Journal review, its most recent exhibition, The Arts and Crafts Movement: Making It Irish, was presented with “singular thoughtfulness and style.”
In keeping with the University’s central teaching mission, exhibitions are accompanied by scholarly catalogues and related public programs.
With the new venue, the McMullen launches a student ambassador program that employs Boston College students in the Museum in capacities ranging “from greeters to tweeters,” Netzer noted. In addition to programming for BC students, there will be a variety of new programming offered for children and adults of all ages.
Formerly housed in Devlin Hall, the McMullen Museum is on BC’s 65-acre Brighton Campus. It continues to be free and open to the public seven days a week, with newly expanded opening hours: Monday, Tuesday, and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday–Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Docent tours are offered at 2 p.m. on Sundays, and are also arranged upon request. The Museum will be closed on Monday, October 10, 2016 (Columbus Day), and Thursday and Friday, November 24–25, 2016 (Thanksgiving holiday). The McMullen’s inaugural exhibition will be accompanied by a range of free public programming and three-day, multi-venue international conference.
[More information about these events, as well as parking and public transportation accessibility, will be available at: www.bc.edu/artmuseum.]
[MEDIA NOTE: an image of the new McMullen Museum is attached; credit: Gary Wayne Gilbert, Boston College. Additional images available here: https://goo.gl/nbFOqd.]