Merrimack Repertory Theatre Blog

February 21, 2013, 3:45 pm
Filed under: Merrimack Repertory Theatre

The production of Red by John Logan is now running at MRT through March 10. Since the show is about painter Mark Rothko, MRT has partnered up with the Addison Gallery in Andover to help promote both the show and the collection on display at the gallery featuring a piece by Mark Rothko himself.

Many MRT patrons and staff members recently visited the Addison Gallery for a special Producers Circle, which featured a guided tour and an opportunity to view the entire collection. Everyone who attended loved the gallery and the extensive collection of art they have on display.

Our Marketing Associate Amanda was able to sit down with Rebecca Hayes, the Curator of Education at the Addison Gallery. Read below for an inside look at a history of the gallery and information on some of the great education and community programs they have to offer.

Admission to the Addison Gallery is FREE to everyone. It is a great opportunity to view 17,000 pieces of American Art. If you are interested in visiting, or you are looking for more info on the gallery, please click here.

Interview with Rebecca Hayes, Curator of Education at The Addison Gallery

Entrance to the Addison Gallery.

Entrance to the Addison Gallery.

Please give a brief history of the Addison Gallery:

The Addison Gallery opened its doors on May 18, 1931.  It was the gift of an alum named Thomas Cochran, who graduated from the Phillips Academy Class of 1890.  He always had fond memories of Phillips Academy and wanted to give something back to the school.  He went to Yale and eventually moved to New York and found success in the finance industry after becoming a partner in Morgan and Company.  When he was in his late 40s, he assessed his resources and decided it was the time to give something back to the school.  He met Charles Platt, an artist and architect in New York.  They collaborated together on what to give the school; one of them was an art gallery, the other a chapel.  In 1931 the museum opened.  Thomas asked Charles Platt to design the building.  He had a lot of friends in Manhattan that were patrons of the arts who were also involved in the founding of the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney, and they recommended to him cherished American Artists that you would want in a collection at an American Art Museum.  He was able to then collect a series of paintings that then became the beginning of the permanent collection at the Addison.  Because of the generosity of a Phillips Academy alum, it’s over 85 years later and the museum has about 17,000 objects from American Art.  One of Thomas Cochran’s missions was to make the museum a place for both the young men of Phillips Academy, to help them develop an appreciation for the beauty that art has to offer, and for the people in surrounding communities and the world.  In the design of the building, the façade faces out towards Rt. 128 rather than facing inwards towards the campus.  It’s creates a feeling of openness to passerby’s on the main road.  This makes us fortunate enough to work with many other communities beyond Phillips Academy.

The Addison Gallery

The Addison Gallery

Tell me about the education programs that the Addison Gallery

We work with Phillips Academy students and faculty and my colleague Jaime Kaplowitz works with our collection since we change our exhibitions three times a year (to mimic Phillip Academy’s trimester schedule).   We have four, sometimes more, exhibitions each semester, which means we have 12-15 different exhibitions a year.  A lot of them are travelling exhibitions; we collaborate with other museums, another curator, or even our own curators so we are always showing something new.  Even though we change our exhibitions three times a year, there’s always a little bit of space dedicated to the permanent collection.  We expanded in 2010 and we now have what we called the Museum Learning Center, which is an interactive teaching space.  Also with the expansion we were able to add permanent storage space in the basement.  Prior to that we did not have extensive climate controlled state of the art storage so we had to store our objects off site.  Now that they’re stored on site, we can mine the permanent collection and use it to teach multiple disciplines across Phillips Academy so we work with all kinds of faculty in Science, Art, and sometimes Math who use the art to support their teaching.  We work extensively with the Phillips Academy community and then we work with K-12 and college audiences within a 60 mile radius.  We do educator workshops and we design curriculum for teacher’s and educator’s guides.  Every season we open a new show, and we also offer adult programming and public programs in conjunction with other community organizations in the area.  Sometimes they are just our own public programs that talk about an exhibition or a conversation that we might have about artwork displayed in the galleries or in the museum learning center.  We have also just started trying to engage with families, so we host family days and offer interpretive materials for them when they come to the Addison.

Mark Rothko Personages, c. 1946
water color and pastel on paper. Gift of Jacob and Ruth Kainen.

Mark Rothko Personages, c. 1946 water color and pastel on paper. Gift of Jacob and Ruth Kainen.

There is currently a Mark Rothko piece on display at the Addison, can you tell me a little about that? 

The painting is Personages, painted around 1946. It is part of our permanent collection, and part of a larger grouping of pieces in our permanent collection of modern works.  When we use something in the collection we usually look at and survey the greatest hits.  In this case, because we are partnering with MRT, we have older works on display and modernist works on display.  The Rothko on display was something even I had never seen before, it does not look like the color field saturated paintings that you see on stage for your production of “Red”, it is water color and pastel on paper and has a little more detail to it.

The Addison Gallery

The Addison Gallery

Anything else you would like to mention about the Addison Gallery?

One of the most important facts about the Addison Gallery is that admission is always free.  We want this art to be accessible to everybody, so we hope that in getting the word out about free admission will encourage more people from surrounding communities to come and appreciate the objects we have on display.  It’s really great to be able to work with the Merrimack Repertory Theatre and find ways in which our creativity and our programs overlap, so it has been really wonderful for us to know that the play is here and to  have you be able to spread the word about the Addison.  Although we are very well-known and people know us, I don’t know how much the community of Lowell knows we are there and would consider coming to visit our museum.  This is just another way for us to get exposure and be able to service some of the people in communities farther away from us.  There are probably a lot of people out there that do not know this museum exists, so having the Rothko production at MRT and having his piece on display on the museum encourage both communities to use each other’s resources to enjoy artistic programming.  It has been fun working with MRT!


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