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The Colby College Museum of Art Unveils Its Sprawling New Pavilion

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Colby College in Waterville, Maine, now boasts the state’s biggest art museum with the opening of the glassy Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion at the Colby College Museum of Art, which launches on Saturday with an opening event for friends of the institution followed by an open house on Sunday. The new building, which boasts a multi-story Sol LeWitt wall drawing (see below), opens with seven exhibitions including “The Lunder Collection: A Gift of Art to Colby College,” which will feature more than 280 works gifted to the institution by Peter and Paula Lunder.

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Sol LeWitt, "Wall Drawing #559," 1988. (Installed at the Colby College Museum of Art 2013.) Color ink wash on wall, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the Estate of Sol LeWitt.

The 26,000-square-foot pavilion, designed by Los Angeles architecture firm Frederick Fisher and Partners Architects, adds 10,000 square feet of gallery space to the institution.

“Until now our museum may have been something of an underappreciated gem — though not to our students, faculty, alumni, and the citizens of Maine, who have embraced it as one of their finest resources,” Colby president William D. Adams said in a statement. “But now, as we celebrate the bicentennial of the college, we can look forward as never before to welcoming visitors from around the country and the world who are going to discover that our museum has risen to the top in its field.”

The inaugural roster of exhibitions also includes selections of Chinese art from the MFA Boson and the Lunder-Colville Collection, a show of historical American weathervanes, an exhibition of paintings from the Alex Katz Foundation as well as a show of Alex Katz canvases, a survey of abstract works by John Marin alongside pieces from his photography collection, and an exhibit focusing on the design of the new pavilion. The centerpiece of the reopening celebrations, however, will be the survey of the Lunder gift, which has been estimated at around $100 million in value, and includes works by John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Alexander Calder, Romare Bearden, Louise Nevelson, Jenny Holzer, and Maya Lin.

“American art collectors are often people who feel they’re building a stronger country,” former Smithsonian American Art Museum director Elizabeth Broun told the Boston Globe when the Colby Museum gift was first announced in 2007. “They have a deep sense of public-spiritedness… That’s especially true of the Lunders.”

The Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion at Colby College Museum of Art opens to the public on Sunday. “The Lunder Collection: A Gift of Art to Colby College” runs through June 8, 2014.

— Benjamin Sutton

(Top image: Luis Camnitzer, “THE MUSEUM IS A SCHOOL ,” 2011. Colby College Museum of Art. Gift of Seth A. Thayer Jr. ’89 and Gregory N. Tinder in honor of the staff of the Colby College Museum of Art. ©trentbellphotography. Second image: Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion, east façade at night, with a view of Sol LeWitt’s “Wall Drawing #559.” Colby College Museum of Art. © 2013 The LeWitt Estate / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. ©trentbellphotography.)

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