Hallie Ford Museum of Art Opens Redesigned Permanent Gallery

A redesigned Mark and Janeth Sponenburgh Gallery, which houses the Hallie Ford Museum of Art's permanent collection of European, Asian and American art, will open March 5 after three months of renovations.

To celebrate the reopening, the museum will host a free family activity day, led by education curator Elizabeth Garrison, March 7 from noon to 4 p.m. in the lobby of the museum. Activities will include art projects based on pieces in the museum to help families explore the galleries.

The reconfigured Mark and Janeth Sponenburgh Gallery presents the collections in a historical sequence, beginning with ancient art and including sections on Christian art, Asian art and 19th and 20th century European and American art. The gallery features new walls and display cases, improved lighting, color schemes to differentiate regions and time periods, and a range of text panels and annotated labels to enhance the visitor's experience. In addition, a number of new gifts and purchases acquired in the past 10 years will be on display.

The collections in the gallery span 4,500 years and encompass four continents: Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. They were assembled over the years to support the liberal arts curriculum of Willamette and to introduce museum visitors to major themes and styles in Western and Eastern art history. Rather than attempting a comprehensive view, the collections consist of small, unassuming art treasures meant to be studied, savored and enjoyed.

Many of the objects on view were given by Mark and Janeth Sponenburgh. Professor Sponenburgh is a sculptor and art historian who, with his late wife Janeth, traveled throughout Europe and Asia and amassed a collection of Western and Eastern art that they gave to Willamette in 1990. Other donors include Richard Brockway, A. Dean McKenzie, James and Aneta McIntyre, Muriel Stieber, Marge Riley, Bill and Beverly Galen, the late Bishop G. Bromley Oxnam, Dan Schneider and Michel and Victoria Hersen.

The reinstallation of the gallery was a collaborative project by museum director John Olbrantz, collection curator Jonathan Bucci, education curator Elizabeth Garrison, exhibition designer/chief preparator David Andersen, faculty curators Roger Hull and Ann Nicgorski, and visiting instructor in art history Kevin Greenwood. Financial support was provided in part by grants from the City of Salem's Transient Occupancy Tax funds and the Oregon Arts Commission.

The redesign is part of an ongoing effort to keep the museum's permanent galleries fresh and interesting. The Carl Hall Gallery, which houses a collection of historic and modern regional art, will be reinstalled this summer, and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Gallery, which houses a collection of Native American baskets, will be reinstalled in the summer of 2010. The Print Study Center, which houses a works on paper collection, was remodeled in 2007 as part of the museum's basement renovation.

The Hallie Ford Museum of Art is located at 700 State St. (corner of State and Cottage streets) in downtown Salem near the campus of Willamette University. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. The galleries are closed Monday. Admission is $3 for adults and $2 for seniors and students. Children younger than 12 are admitted free, and Tuesday is an admission-free day. For more information call (503) 370-6855.