Timeline: MAG through the years

05:00 AM, Mar 24, 2013

The Memorial Art Gallery is celebrating 100 years in Rochester. (CARLOS ORTIZ/staff photographer)/


Written By Staff reports

1910: Frank van der Lancken, Claude Bragdon and George Herdle formed the Rochester Art League, and the Rochester Art Club held the city’s first municipal art exhibition.

1912: Emily Sibley Watson, daughter of Western Union investor Hiram Sibley, donates $200,000 (the equivalent of $4.75 million today) to University of Rochester for the city’s first art museum as a memorial to her son, James Averell.

1913: Memorial Art Gallery opens on the UR’s former Prince Street campus. Watson commissions William Ordway Partridge to make a life-size marble sculpture with a relief portrait of Averell in its base, and the Watson and Sibley families donate several works of art to the museum, including Jonas Lie’s “Morning on the River.”

1914: Eastman Kodak Co.’s first color Kodachrome two-color process was revealed publicly in a MAG exhibit.

1919: MAG holds its first controversial exhibit, a group of George Bellows’ paintings that included some World War I paintings of the German occupation of Belgium that many people, including Mayor James Cutler, thought were too explicit. UR President Rush Rhees refused to take them down.

1922: George Herdle dies of Hodgkins lymphoma. His daughter, Gertrude, is named his replacement.

1923: James Sibley Watson, son of Emily Sibley Watson, gives the first of what would eventually be almost 200 works of art to the museum.

1925: Ground broken for MAG’s first addition, which opened to great fanfare a year later.

1939: MAG sponsored a series of lectures that put World War II in context for Rochesterians.

1940: MAG Women’s Council formed.

1941: MAG hosts its first Van Gogh exhibit, on loan from the Netherlands government.

1942: As part of the war effort, the UR’s Institute of Optics used MAG’s kiln for top-secret work for the military.

1944: MAG trained volunteers for the first time in art therapy.

1951: MAG acquires 100 ancient works that were part of the collection of Frederic Grinnell Morgan, who was a U.S. diplomat in Cairo at the turn of the century.

1956: Clothesline Festival is born.

1961: MAG holds its first class to train volunteer docents.

1964: Wendell Castle’s Music Rack, the first piece to use what has become his signature style, was part of Rochester-Finger Lakes Exhibition.

1966: After two expansion plans put on hold, MAG breaks ground to build a new wing and utilize Cutler Union for its workshop space.

1969: MAG charges admission for the first time.

1972: “Art Without Limit,” which featured conceptual art pieces by artists such as Dan Flavin and Dennis Oppenheim, proved too modern for many visitors.

1975: Charles Rand Penney Foundation gives one of the biggest gifts to date, 380 contemporary art pieces of the 1960s and 1970s.

1987: MAG opens third addition.

1979: MAG forms Averell Council, a young professionals group.

1993: MAG receives surprise $1.6 million bequest from the estate of Helen and Lillian Dege, who received a small inheritance from their parents’ grocery chain, lived frugally and managed to grow it into millions.

1996: MAG launched its first website (now located at mag.rochester.edu).

1999: MAG sees large crowds for the run of a visiting Maxfield Parrish exhibit.

2004: MAG introduced its first Rochester Biennial Exhibit.

2008: MAG opens a long-term exhibit of Wendell Castle works.

2007: Georgia O’Keefe exhibit also proves a crowd favorite.

2009: Several major collection pieces were reinstalled thanks to renovations made available through gift campaigns.

2010: MAG announces plans for a new Centennial Sculpture Park, which will be completed at the end of April.

2013: MAG’s centennial celebration includes several exhibits showcasing its different collection.