We’re almost done! The last phase of the reinstallation of the galleries of European and American art will begin tomorrow with the closure of the gallery of Greek, Roman and Egyptian art. It reopens later this month as the Antiquity + The Body gallery.
The project began in October 2011, with the new Portraiture gallery, and last Friday marked the reopening of the Medieval + Renaissance gallery. Its attractive gold walls make the artwork pop. On Monday, the 17-century European Art gallery reopened with dramatic purple walls.
Yesterday, curator of European and American art Theresa Papanikolas and graphic designer Jared Stone chose the colors for the wall text in both of those rooms, so it will be going up soon.
In the 17-century European Art gallery, you’ll find favorites such as Pieter de Hooch’s A Musical Conversation along with a newcomer—Papanikolas recently discovered a Hendrik Dubbels painting in the vault that has not been displayed in years. There are also three Rembrandt etchings featured in a lighted case. Papanikolas’ favorite painting in the gallery is Dutch painter Abraham van Beyeren’s A Fruit Still Life.
“The way he handles surfaces and textures is amazing,” says Papanikolas. “Particularly the tactility of the fruit and the glass.”
Papanikolas also noted a Chinese porcelain bowl in the painting. “During the 17th-century, Amsterdam was a gateway for Asia. The bowl, from the Ming Dynasty, would have been the type of thing the Dutch would have collected.” The museum happens to have a bowl just like the one in the painting, and it will soon be placed adjacent to the artwork.
A note for animal lovers—there are some great dog depictions in two of the gallery’s paintings. One of which, French portraitist Pierre Mignard’s The Children of the Duc de Bouillon, has an interesting story. Former director James Foster has recounted that when he acquired the painting at auction for the museum in 1975, it was unattributed—but he saw something in the work. Upon inspection, the museum found evidence that it was, indeed, a Mignard painting, making it an important part of the museum’s 17th-century collection.
The renovation of the final gallery will take approximately three weeks. Papanikolas says many of the objects currently on view—Roman glass, Greek vases—will be removed to make way for works of other eras and media (including our Modigliani!) to create a space that highlights how artists have dealt with the human form throughout art history.
All part of the year-long unfolding of the “new” Honolulu Museum of Art.