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.
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.
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, I learned that it refers to Wright’s vision for the U.S.
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.