Krannert Art Museum celebrates 50 years

Fifty years of age often brings not-so-welcome tidings of wrinkled skin and silver hair, but a unique and refined perspective also accompanies a half-century of life. Such is the case for Krannert Art Museum, or KAM, as they celebrate their 50th Anniversary with the opening of the new At 50: Krannert Art Museum, 1961-2011 exhibit opening Thursday, Aug. 25 from 6-7 p.m.

Though KAM has exhibited art for 50 years and has shown over 10,000 works of art, guest curator Michael Rush has managed to create a very unique and interactive exhibition, including sculpture, painting, video and photography across time and continents, said Ann Sautman, director of education for KAM.

Until Oct. 23, the public can visit this nontraditional exhibit with moving and angled walls that allow visitors to create their own connections between the widely varied and unconventionally organized works.

“(This exhibit) breaks the tradition of timeline and categorization,” said Sautman. “For example, an African mask from 19th century might be next to something contemporary. It’s a way of helping us see the connections and similarities of art throughout time and throughout history throughout the world.”

Despite its unusual system of display, a subtle thread of commonality is woven throughout the works so that the art creates connection and reveals details through juxtaposition.

For instance, a portraiture section of the exhibit may show a portrait of St. Catherine next to a painting of Marilyn Monroe, said Sautman. Though the subject of both works is a woman, the vastly different ways and time periods in which the art was made allows the visitors to compare and contrast and draw their own conclusions.

The exhibit is part of a 5-year effort to build a modern collection and features the more than 350 pieces that have been added to Krannert’s collection in those five years, said Diane Schumacher, director of marketing and public relations for KAM.

The rest of the new art is displayed in the Recent Acquisitions, 2006-2011 exhibit, which also opened in August 2011.

In addition to bolstering its art collection, KAM continues to diversify its appeal by hosting poetry readings, dance performances, music and film screenings. The museum has also undergone less visible renovations, like the installation of wireless internet and better security, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, said Schumacher.

“These environmental and security primarily improve safety and environmental conditions but are really important to protect our work and acquire more work from other institutions,” Schumacher said.

Not only will visitors experience these improvements and new art collections, but the At 50: Krannert Art Museum exhibit, open to the public for free, will also offer hors d’oeuvres, a dance performance, a cash wine bar and the opportunity for guests to hear Rush speak.

Whether or not people decide to check out the At 50 exhibit, Schumacher emphasizes that a visit to KAM would provide an enriching experience to people of all interests.

“KAM is a place for meeting artists, engaging in artist conversations and lectures, and being exposed to some of today’s leading artists and designers,” said Schumacher. “Plus, especially with the current 50th Anniversary celebration, you’re able to walk through the museum and see incredible works of art.”