Published: April 6, 2004
The Evelyn Simon Gilman Gallery at The William Benton Museum of Art
April 17 marks the much-anticipated culmination of more than two decades of dreaming and planning for The William Benton Museum of Art, according to Salvatore Scalora, director of the museum located on the University of Connecticut campus in Storrs.
While dreams of additional space began at the Benton as early as 1985, construction began in the fall of 2002 and the addition including The Evelyn Simon Gilman Gallery was completed in December 2003. The April 17 dedication ceremony is part of a daylong Festival of the Arts at UConn with School of Fine Arts faculty and students providing live jazz, puppet shows, opera, dance, dramatic performances and opening receptions for the new exhibitions that will be on view through May 14.
On view will be “Collection Tango: A Selection of Contemporary Art Chosen by Evelyn Simon Gilman and Salvatore Scalora,” highlighting contemporary pieces from the Benton’s growing collection; “Full Tilt,” showing this year’s Master of Fine Arts degree candidates Laurel J. Carpenter, Charles Living-ston, Christine Mugnolo, Mara Trachenberg and Mark Williams.
Also, “An Eighteenth Century Gallery: Reflections in Art of Life and Thought in Eighteenth Century Europe,” an exploration of the prevailing intellectual and social ferment; “Molas from the Elizabeth Hans Collection,” a display of colorful and intricate fabric designs that reflect native Cuna Indian traditions, independence and culture and serve as expressions of Panama’s national pride.
At 11 am, University President Philip E. Austin will cut the ribbon in celebration of the opening of the new addition that affects a physical turnaround of the Benton and signals high visibility for the State’s official art museum.
The new entrance faces the Quad and the newly renovated and expanded Student Union while the former entrance through a beloved sculpture garden has become the rear of the building. Although the garden remains an inviting oasis on the bustling campus, the Benton now focuses on the core of the University’s campus of more than 20,000 faculty, staff and students.
Crisp stainless steel arches span the façade’s brick columns and soaring torchieres dramatically illuminate both the exterior and the interior of the building. Visitors enter through The Museum Store and Café Muse. A graceful staircase leads to the second floor lobby that offers a long view of the Quad and provides a welcoming entrance to the Evelyn Simon Gilman Gallery.
This much needed space was designed to showcase special exhibitions and works from the Benton’s permanent collection of more than 5,500 pieces including works by Childe Hassam, Henry Ward Ranger, Emil Carlson, Charles H. Davis, Ernest Lawson, Guy Wiggins, Mary Cassatt, Thomas Hart Benton, Fairfield Porter, George Bellows, Rembrandt Peale, Maurice Predergast, Reginald Marsh, Kathe Kollwitz, Gustav Klimt and many others.
In designing the 7,750-gross-square-foot addition, architects Glenn Arbonies and Sandra Vlock of Arbonies King Vlock of Branford, Conn., were inspired by the original Collegiate Gothic structure, which served as “The Beanery,” the main dining hall for the entire campus, from 1920 through the mid-1940s. The museum and the surrounding brick buildings comprised the western edge of what was then The Connecticut Agricultural College. Today, the core campus buildings, including the Benton, are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The William Benton Museum of Art is affiliated with the University of Connecticut School of Fine Arts. It is located at 245 Glenbrook Road. Hours are Tuesday-Friday, 10 am to 4:30 pm, Saturday and Sunday 1 to 4:30 pm. For information, Benton.UConn.edu or 860-486-4520.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm