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A Family Album: Brooklyn Collects

DATES March 02, 2001 through July 01, 2001
ORGANIZING DEPARTMENT European Painting and Sculpture
  • A Family Album: Brooklyn Collects
    A Family Album: Brooklyn Collects presents more than two hundred works of art on loan from eighty-five private collectors, celebrating the variety and character of our lenders through the objects they collect. Ranging from ancient Egyptian sculpture to recent video art, these works are organized by lender rather than content. Personal statements included here from many of the collectors—about art , the Brooklyn Museum, or the borough of Brooklyn—offer us meaningful insight.

    Our lenders have ties to Brooklyn as diverse as the art in these galleries. Some were born here and stayed, some moved away, and some—like myself—have returned. Several , without any former connection, have selected Brooklyn as their home or workplace. For many, the borough resonates with associations, from Ebbetts Field and Coney Island to today’s vibrant community of artists in Williamsburg. For others, this Museum represents the spirit of Brooklyn and the place they were first introduced to art and, in a special sense, to the world.

    The idea for Brooklyn Collects grew out of my own feelings about the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and from the very personal experiences expressed in the hundreds of letters that I received when I was appointed Director. In remembering my own childhood experience here, I can focus immediately on one object that has stayed with me for half a century: an exquisite Egyptian ibis coffin in the Museum’ s collection. This Ptolemaic “madeleine” released sweet memories from my youth when I visited it again upon thinking about returning to the BMA, this time as its Director.

    Whether you view this exhibition as a singular “history of art ,” or as a mirror of individual tastes and personalities, it is most of all an extraordinary diorama of “pictures” in our unique “family album.” At some time, all of these collectors—and countless others not included here—found Brooklyn or the Brooklyn Museum to be part of their lives. By lending these objects for others to enjoy, these collectors have, in turn, become more a part of this institution’s life, and I offer my thanks for this tangible, generous, and familial gesture.

    Arnold Lehman
  • January 7, 2001 More than 200 major artworks, ranging from antiquities to contemporary paintings, lent by over 80 collectors, all of whom have deep connections to Brooklyn, will be presented in the exhibition A Family Album: Brooklyn Collects on view from March 2 through July 1, 2001 at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Each of the objects reflects the remarkable diversity that has always been Brooklyn’s signature.

    A Family Album: Brooklyn Collects celebrates the variety and character of people connected to Brooklyn through the objects they collect. The exhibition will bring together lenders as diverse as the objects they’ve lent; some were born here and stayed, some moved away, and some have returned. The objects will be grouped by collector and accompanied by the lender’s photo and statement when available.

    Brooklyn-born Museum Director Arnold Lehman recalls the stimulus for A Family Album[:] Brooklyn Collects: “Some of my fondest memories while growing up were of coming to the Museum and seeing the wonderful objects here,” Lehman said. “After being appointed director, I received hundreds of letters from current or former Brooklyn residents expressing the same memories and saying that the Museum sparked their interest in art and collecting. That’s what gave us the impetus for this exhibition. We wanted to broaden Brooklyn’s definition from a geographic place to a state of mind, a connective tissue that runs throughout the country,” said Mr. Lehman.

    Every curatorial department of the Brooklyn Museum of Art has been involved in locating collectors and securing loans. Elizabeth Easton, Chair of the Museum’s Department of European Painting and Sculpture, coordinated the Museum-wide effort. The result is an impressive and engaging array of art of the highest quality from ancient Egyptian and classical sculpture, to photography, textiles, furniture, prints, drawings, and the latest contemporary art.

    “The exhibit extends the parameters of the Museum’s encyclopedic collection,” comments Dr. Easton[.] “The impetus behind each collection is personal. Some have inherited their objects; some collectors are descendants of the Museum’s founders, while others have spent devoted years to assembling objects from a specific moment in the history of art.” Dr. Easton added that several works that have been contributed to the exhibition are by Brooklyn-born or based contemporary artists.

    The artists have been invited to include testimonials with their group of objects, reflecting on their earliest reminiscences of visits to the Museum, of their Brooklyn neighborhoods, or their personal relationship to their art. “I believe that for many Brooklyn expatriate collectors, involvement in this exhibition is a bit of a homecoming,” said Ms. Easton.

    To further underscore the homecoming theme for A Family Album: Brooklyn Collects, the Museum is creating “Home Team,” a national membership campaign. More than 10,000 former Brooklynites, in targeted locations throughout the country, will be offered free memberships and will be invited to a VIP reception, for which New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast has created a very special “Family Album” cartoon as the cover of the invitation.

    There also will be a wide range of public programs scheduled to coincide with the exhibition.

    A Family Album: Brooklyn Collects is sponsored by KeySpan.
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