Celebrating our First Anniversary in the Reimagined Gibbes Museum
As we approach the end of our fiscal year at the Gibbes Museum of Art, we also reflect upon some major milestones. It is hard to believe that a little over a week ago on May 28th the Gibbes celebrated its first anniversary since reopening after a major renovation. Beginning in 2010, the staff, board, and its many volunteers prepared for the museum closing. And during the restoration period, what seemed like an insurmountable task was successfully achieved! We operated over 200 museum activities and programs for 21 months without our building. We could not have done this without the support of our community partners who allowed us to use their facility spaces. For this, we will be ever grateful.
This reopening year has been a transformational one, and we remain proud of our many firsts. With a brand new first floor comprised of classrooms and studios, we initiated our Visiting Artist Series to introduce our audiences to the creative process. We now have the pleasure of inviting emerging and nationally recognized artists for short and long-term residencies, and we have also established a partnership with the College of Charleston School of the Arts offering a four to nine-month residency for one teaching artist employed by the College during the school year. This series provides direct access to the artists, and its uniqueness relates to the participating artists and their connection to our collection or special exhibitions. Visitors become actively engaged in the process which often affects the way that they view the art. This year we welcomed artists utilizing all different media in addition to an artist who created a site-specific installation at the Gibbes.
Another major first this past year was the exceptional, once-in-a-lifetime, 80th-anniversary exhibition celebrating the first public showing of Solomon R. Guggenheim’s collection now housed at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. This exhibition Realm of the Spirit: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Collection and the Gibbes Museum of Art celebrated the anniversary of a similar exhibition featuring non-objective art that was shown at the Gibbes in 1936 and 1938. The 2016 exhibition featured thirty-six original works by Pablo Picasso, George Seurat, Rudolf Bauer, Wassily Kandinsky, and Marc Chagall with an accompanying catalog. This transformational exhibition brought the Gibbes to the forefront as a place that showcases exceptional American art. With illuminating exhibitions like Realm of the Spirit, the Gibbes continues to fulfill its promise to be a center of creativity for all Charlestonians—and for the thousands of visitors attracted to the region every year.
And through our 2016 Distinguished Lecture Series, made possible by the passion and vision of philanthropist and Gibbes board member Esther Ferguson, we were honored to welcome one of the most prominent artists working today, Jeff Koons. Mr. Koons’ lecture to a record crowd highlighted the desire for this community to have access to world-renowned speakers.
This first year of special artists, programs, and exhibitions in the newly-transformed Gibbes continues to respond to the Gibbes unique history, Charleston’s diverse demographics, and its reputation as the top tourist destination in the U.S. Museums make great cities and the Gibbes is no exception. With a ten-year strategic plan in process, we will continue to solicit counsel and support from our board, foundation, corporate, and municipal donors to help us raise the bar even further in advancing the visual arts.
While we are moving into year two with our new building, we still hold fast to achieving many more firsts. Together, we have accomplished so much, and together we will accomplish even more. We thank you for your generosity and support, and we hope that you will continue on this journey with us.
—Jennifer Ross, Director of Development, Gibbes Museum of Art
Top image: Gibbes Museum of Art Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony on May 28, 2016. Image by MCG Photography.