Matisse, link galleries are passages to new structure THE NEW WING: INSIDE & OUT

October 02, 1994|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Sun Art Critic

One problem the BMA's new wing exacerbates is the installation of the Cone Wing's central Matisse gallery, which is devoted to showing the collection of the artist's paintings and sculpture -- the chief jewel in the museum's crown.

For years, the mainly small-scale paintings have been exhibited in tiny metal frames (their original frames are stored away), and lined up like so many traffic signs on the walls of a too-open, undivided gallery. It has been difficult to establish intimate communication with them. Museum-goers I've talked to hate this installation, with reason.

Now that the main entrance to the new wing opens from this gallery, it will become something like a hall, leading from the museum's central court to the new wing's rotunda. Those who want to look at the Matisses will be distracted by people trooping through.

It's unfortunate that the Matisse gallery will be used as that sort of people conduit. Under these circumstances, an effort to improve the gallery becomes even more imperative.

Put the pictures back in their original frames, in which they were much more comfortable. Divide the room into smaller spaces, as Richardson has done in the galleries on either side to excellent effect.

4 Put people into closer contact with these works.

Main building renovations

As part of the BMA's new wing project, there was a renovation of 15,000 square feet of space in the museum's main building. Two additional galleries, adjacent to one another, were created. Called the "link" galleries, they link the ground floor public spaces of the museum's main building with the ground floor of the new wing.

The galleries, which provide a handsome background for art, primarily will display works on paper from the museum's vast holdings in its department of prints, drawings and photographs.

Jay M. Fisher, curator of prints, drawings and photographs, says the link galleries will be used to rotate the permanent collection, as well as to accommodate traveling shows such as the coming "Alone in a Crowd: Prints by African-American Artists of the 1930s-1940s from the Collection of Reba and Dave Williams" (Jan. 4-Feb. 26) and "Abstract Photographs and Drawings" (March 22-June 25).

The galleries open Oct. 9 with the exhibit "Major Modern Drawings from the Museum's Collection." It contains works by many artists whose paintings and sculpture are installed in the new wing.

BMA DONORS

Here is a list of major funding contributors to the Baltimore Museum of Art's New Wing for Modern Art:

* State of Maryland

* City of Baltimore

* Kresge Foundation

* Hazel Ann Fox

* Constance R. Caplan

* Louis and Henrietta Blaustein Foundation, and Henry and Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Foundation

* Alex. Brown & Sons

* Nathan and Suzanne Cohen Foundation

* Sadie B. Feldman

* First National Bank of Maryland

* Howard and Martha Head

* Legg Mason

* James S. Riepe Family

* T. Rowe Price Associates Foundation

* Ellen and Jack Wasserman

* Mercantile Safe Deposit & Trust Company

* National Endowment for the Arts

* BGE

* Harry L. Gladding Foundation

* Piper & Marbury

* Whiting-Turner Contracting Company

* Ernst & Young

* McCormick & Company

* Jack Griswold

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