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UMaine Today Magazine

Collect Calling
Back to The Big Picture-]

George Kinghorn
George Kinghorn

The quality of a museum is often defined by the quality of its collection.

That's why a strategic plan for collecting is a priority for George Kinghorn, the new director of the University of Maine Museum of Art.

"It's absolutely essential for a museum to take a look at its collection to identify strengths and weaknesses and areas that may need improvement," Kinghorn says. "A plan guides the growth of the collection and helps us find areas where we may seek donations and make strategic acquisitions."

Kinghorn comes to UMaine from Florida, where he most recently served as deputy director and chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville. He was instrumental in opening MOCA Jacksonville's six-floor, 60,000-square-foot facility in the heart of downtown. He also led a subsequent renovation of the museum's galleries, which added exhibition space and improved flow.

During his nine-year tenure, he added significant works to the permanent collection, implemented a comprehensive strategic plan and created a collections management master plan, which redefined the scope of the collection. He previously was a member of the art faculty at Jacksonville University. In Maine, Kinghorn hopes to strengthen ties between the UMaine Museum of Art in downtown Bangor and students and faculty on the Orono campus.

When he arrived in June, Kinghorn had only begun to explore the UMaine museum's holdings, nearly 7,000 works in all. However, a clear pattern emerged.

"The strength of the University of Maine Museum of Art collection is largely composed of works on paper: original prints, multiples, as well as photography, which has always been an emphasis here," Kinghorn says. "The prints range from historically significant pieces by Käthe Kollwitz, Winslow Homer and John Marin up to more contemporary masters like Alex Katz, Andy Warhol and Chuck Close."

When he started the collection in 1946, the late Vincent Hartgen used his shoestring budget to purchase works on paper — mostly prints. Over time, donors such as Robert Venn Carr Jr., a 1938 alumnus who collected contemporary works by influential artists, had a major impact.

Still, some holes remain in terms of media. Moving forward, Kinghorn hopes to acquire original paintings and drawings by both Maine artists and artists of international stature.

"It's not about quantity, it's about quality," Kinghorn says.


UMaine Today Magazine
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