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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Currier but Not Ives

The title is not in reference to famed American lithographers Nathaniel Currier and James Merritt Ives, as the New England museum we visited is not connected with either man.

The Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH is an internationally renowned art museum with a collection of over 10,000 European and American works of art paintings, decorative arts, sculpture and photographs including works by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Jamie Wyeth with special exhibitions year-round. The museum, originally known as the Currier Gallery of Art, was founded in 1929 from a bequest of former NH Governor Moody Currier and his wife, Hannah Slade Currier.


Currier's will provided for the establishment of an art museum "for the benefit and advancement of humanity." Although not personally an art collector, Currier's funding allowed for the purchase of a great deal of art. After his wife's death in 1915, a board of trustees was appointed to carry out the Currier's wishes that a structure be constructed that met their requirements. 


The art gallery opened its new facility in 1929. Its first director, Maud Briggs Knowlton, was one of the first U.S. female museum administrators. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. New pavilions were built in 1982 to accommodate the collections; in 2002 it was renamed the Currier Museum of Art.

In addition to special exhibits and programs, the museum features a monthly jazz brunch which was the reason for this visit. This event includes a very tasty selection of made-to-order omelettes, French toast, fruits, pastries, and other brunch items (see Grenville's taste testing). Music was provided by a single guitarist who played many standards during a 3-hour period.
Another museum highlight are tours of the Isadore and Lucille Zimmerman House, the only Frank Lloyd Wright designed house open to the public in New England. Tours are limited to 12 people and only offered from March to December. The house is referred to as a “Usonian House” a style popularized by Wright. It has with the former owners original furnishings including their collection of art, pottery and sculpture. Wright designed the house exterior and interior, furniture, gardens, even the mailbox. In 1979, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Zimmermans bequeathed it to the Currier Museum in 1988 following Lucille’s death; her husband had died in 1984. In 1990, it was opened to the public. We plan to tour it when it's re-opened this spring. (You can read about it in this 2013 issue of New Hampshire Home which has complete detail and photos on the house and its background.)
Curious about the term, Usonia, learned that it refers to Wright’s vision for the U.S.
landscape which included the planning of cities and building architecture. Homes designed in this style were usually small, single-story dwellings without a garage or much storage and often L-shaped to fit around a garden space.

14 comments:

gigihawaii said...

How beautiful the structure and art are. I would love to tour it. The brunch sounds delicious.

Out on the prairie said...

Sounds like a good day. A lot of FLW homes around me.

thecottagebythecranelaketwo said...

I really like that house! I found it on the net and saw some interior photos too, a house in my taste!

We have no art museums close but a few other museums since we have tombs from all ages here, so to be honest, some of the things they did back inthe days could be concidered art since they made even buckles very beautiful.

Have a great day!
Christer.

Michelle said...

Love the architecture of FLW. Gorgeous house.

Sandra said...

I love the Wright house, i love all his houses and the bacon on the plate has my name on it. LOL... the story of this museum sounds much like our Ringling Museum and how it was built.

Lois Evensen said...

What a wonderful place!

Emma Springfield said...

The museum looks like a good place to explore. Frank Lloyd Wright was extremely lucrative in the Midwest. Only one of his houses still stands in Nebraska but Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan have many.

William Kendall said...

I would love to explore that place!

diane b said...

Both places sound like great places to visit. The jazz and brunch looks like my idea of visiting museums.

Daisy said...

Looks like a wonderful place to visit.

Catherine said...

The Currier Museum looks fabulous! and I'd love to visit this Wright house too. His designs are so minimalist and beautiful... and challenge the way we live, with all our "stuff" ;)

possum said...

Looks like a fun day

Kathy said...

This is so interesting! I'd love to tour that house.

Ludwig Keck said...

Interesting places! Are these places "photo-friendly"? Do they have any restrictions on taking pictures? Any hassles?

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