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Benton celebrates 30th anniversary
The William Benton Museum of Art is celebrating its 30th anniversary October 25 through December 20, with a special exhibition of works from the permanent collection and new acquisitions: "The Museum's Collection: Past Directions/New Visions, 30th Anniversary Exhibition." Old favorites, art from recent donations, and newly acquired work will be on view.
The premiere of new works of art highlights the anniversary exhibit. Among the new works is a mix of prints ranging from a 16th century engraving to contemporary works by Kara Walker and Kiki Smith. Edward Hopper's etching Night Shadows, from 1921, an engraving by Giovanni Battista Scultori, from 1538, and a mid 18th century mezzotint by James Watson will also be included in the exhibit.
Newly acquired contemporary art includes African-American artist Melvin Edwards' Restless, 1994, a wall sculpture made of welded iron. Sculpture magazine has called Edwards "one of the most prominent American sculptors."
The permanent collection at the museum was founded by UConn President Charles Lewis Beach around 1920, who advocated that a college education, even in an agricultural college, meant exposure to the visual and fine arts as well as to vocational course work.
In the 1920s, Beach bought, with his own money, more than 60 paintings that were placed around the college. Landscapes predominated in the late-impressionist style of New England painting. Paintings by Ernest Lawson and Charles Davis entered the collection but, despite a strong beginning, more than 30 years passed after Beach's death in 1933 before the University - no longer an agricultural college - formalized its interest in an art collection by founding the University of Connecticut Art Museum, later renamed the William Benton Museum of Art.
During the past 30 years, aided by purchases made through endowments, the Alumni Annual Fund, and the Museum's Friends organization, the collections has expanded in number and quality. Of equal significance have been gifts to the Museum, the first being Walter Landauer's collection of prints and drawings by Kathe Kollwitz.
The exhibit will include some of the early landscape paintings purchased by Beach, a Mary Cassatt pastel, a rare Kathe Kollwitz color lithograph and color chalk drawing, and works by Reginald Marsh.
Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.and Saturday and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The museum will be closed November 27 through December 1. Admission is free.