July 7, 2013

Colby College museum reopens as 'a major player'

The new Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion was built to house more than 500 pieces of art valued at more than $100 million, an extraordinary donation by a Waterville couple.

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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"Old Man Playing Solitaire," a sculpture by Duane Hanson, circa 1973, represents an especially striking piece in the new Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion of the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville. The museum reopens to the public this week.

Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Colby College's $15 million Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion, left, adds a sparkling new minimalist wing to the museum and brings contrast to a campus rich in classic red-brick structures. Inside, a three-story wall painting by artist Sol LeWitt provides a vibrant splash of color amid the glass- and metal-encased building.

Gordon Chibroski

Additional Photos Below

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'THE LUNDER COLLECTION' A GIFT OF ART TO COLBY COLLEGE

WHERE: Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville

WHEN: Opens with a private viewing Saturday and with a public viewing on July 14. On view through June 8, 2014.

MUSEUM HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

HOW MUCH: Free

FOR MORE: 859-5600; colby.edu/academics_cs/museum

College museums rely less on attendance for their funding. The teaching mission of a college links directly to the operation of a college art museum, and a college museum guides its collecting principles around its academic mission, Goodyear said.

Whether attendance at Colby grows, the Lunder Collection and the Alfond-Lunder pavilion will enhance the campus, community and the state, Goodyear said.

"College museums play a vital role in educating the future citizens of a democratic nation," she said. "They do have a special role to play in our society in that they are providing an opportunity for members of the community at large, but especially young people, to engage with world-class pieces of art and the challenges it poses. Great art does not sugarcoat the world.

"The Colby museum is rooted in a community-oriented ethos. There is a tradition at Colby of not only serving its own student community, but being outward-facing in terms of the larger public. This collection only enhances that tradition."

Wes LaFountain, former director of the University of New Hampshire Museum of Art, grew up in Winslow across the river from Waterville. He said there was no question the Lunder gift will expose Colby to a much broader audience.

"It's a collection that any museum in America, if not beyond, would love to have," he said.

The public face of the museum changes dramatically with the new wing. Colby hired the Los Angeles-based firm Frederick Fisher and Partners Architects to design the pavilion. The college describes it as a "light-filled gateway" to the existing museum, and a "beacon" for Maine residents and visitors.

It was designed to reflect nearby campus architecture during the day and provide glimpses of art at night, when it will be lit from the inside out.

The mostly glass pavilion also serves as the new main entrance to the museum, and opens out onto an existing sculpture garden that features Richard Serra's monumental "4-5-6," which has been part of the sculpture garden for many years.

Inside is a high-ceilinged main lobby with slate floors and open space for art installations and gatherings. The pavilion provides four new galleries as well as classrooms, a conference room, studios and offices.

The Lunders said they loved the new building when they toured it as the collection was being installed. "I couldn't offer a suggestion. I couldn't offer a criticism. Perfect," Peter Lunder said.

He especially loved the LeWitt wall drawing, which is visible from the outside looking in. "They'll know there's a museum there now. The LeWitt is drop-dead gorgeous," he said.

"We think Mr. LeWitt would be pleased," Paula Lunder added. "It was a nice building before. But now it's an announcement."

The Lunders hope people in Maine take advantage of the collection and visit the museum.

"We view our gift as a chance to move forward. We're not losing anything. We're sharing it," Peter Lunder said. "Maine is blessed; we have a lot of great museums. And one of them just got better."

Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:

bkeyes@pressherald.com

Twitter: pphkeyes

 

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Additional Photos

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The Lunder Collection, part of which is displayed here on the main floor of the Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion, totals more than 500 pieces and is valued at more than $100 million.

Gordon Chibroski

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The three-story wall painting, visible outside one of the glass walls of the Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion at Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, met with approval from philanthropist Peter Lunder. "They'll know there's a museum there now," the art collector said. "The (Sol) LeWitt (artwork) is drop-dead gorgeous."'

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Sharon Corwin, museum director and chief curator, expects attendance will spike with the addition of the new wing. "I hope that people will travel here," she said. "I hope his museum will become a destination."

Gordon Chibroski



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