to The Big Picture-]
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
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,"