Embracing the Future: The Amon Carter Reopens
When Amon G. Carter, Sr., died in 1955, his will directed that a museum to house his impressive art collection be created. That museum opened its doors to the public on January 21, 1961.
On Saturday, September 14, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art will once again open its doors to the public after a year-long renovation that necessitated a three-month closure. The annual Party on the Porch has been expanded into a day-long celebration for the whole family. There are new galleries to explore, hands-on activities throughout the galleries, and tours of the library and archives. If “museum fatigue” sets in, take a break in the Family Pop-up Space in the Lounge. There will be food trucks and live music, with local musician and rising star Abraham Alexander taking the stage at 7 pm to kick off a night of music.
When Amon G. Carter, Sr., envisioned his museum, he wanted a space to house his extensive collection of works by Fredric Remington and Charles M. Russell, works that form the core of the Amon Carter’s collection today. The renovation improved the layout of the galleries, incorporating the latest technology to enhance the visitor’s experience. LED lighting to preserve the collection, a modular wall system that allows for ease of reconfiguring spaces to enhance new exhibitions, and digital interactive artwork, such as Camille Utterback’s Untitled 5 which translates viewers’ movements into an animated painting, are just some of the upgrades.
Brett Abbott, Director of Collections and Exhibitions, says that “connecting the past and present is an important part of what we do.” Where once the collection was arranged chronologically, now each gallery is organized around a theme. A photograph from 2001 might hang beside an oil painting completed in 1891, allowing visitors to discover both new artists and old favorites. Themes include American Roots, Modern America, Opulence and the Everyday, and America as Landscape.
Also opening on September 14 is Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Work 1940-1950. A musician, a writer, and a film director as well as a photographer, Parks was part of a wave of African American artists in the 1940s and 1950s who used their art to push for equality. The photographs in the exhibit document life for African Americans in the middle decades of the 20th century, from a cleaning woman holding a broom and a mop to fashion models to portraits of the Tuskegee Airmen.
As well as renovating and expanding the galleries and archives, the Amon Carter is expanding its outreach and educational programs. Whether it’s the popular Itty-Bitty Art program for young toddlers (adults are only allowed in with a responsible toddler) or the new Art Carts which highlight specific works of art through hands-on activities, the museum is dedicated to bringing art to all ages.
As part of their educational mission, the museum created the Carter Community Artists program in 2018. Each year, four local artists are selected to create, educate, and connect. Christopher Blay, Diane Durant, Arnoldo Hurtado, and Lauren Cross have spent the past year participating in a variety of programs and workshops for our community. “The Carter Community Artist initiative is a great way for the museum to bridge with communities that need bridging to the arts,” says Hurtado.
Especially commissioned for the grand reopening, Justin Favela’s immersive Puente Nuevo welcomes visitors with an immense tissue paper installation. Drawing inspiration from color lithographs chronicling the development of the railroads by 19th-century Mexican printer Casimiro Castro in the museum’s collection, Puente Nuevo (“New Bridge”) celebrates the past while bridging to the present. In addition to Puente Nuevo, Favela will create works inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe and Alexander Calder.
Six decades on, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art honors and elevates its past while embracing the future. The museum’s mission “to collect, preserve, and exhibit the finest examples of American art; and to serve an educational role through exhibitions, publications, and programs devoted to the study of American art” will be greatly enhanced by the renovations of the past year. You are invited to celebrate with the Amon Carter this Saturday, September 14, from 10 am to 10 pm, and Party on the Porch. For more information about the Amon Carter, visit https://new.cartermuseum.org/.