American Perspectives is Lyman Allyn’s newly reinstalled permanent collection of American Art. With paintings, sculpture, furniture, and decorative arts from the 18th through the 20th century, the renovated galleries offer a fresh approach to new and familiar treasures. American Perspectives presents American art through an often regional lens, using chronology and thematic groupings to celebrate the strengths of the collection, which include 18th century furniture, New London’s maritime and whaling history, Hudson River School paintings, and Connecticut Impressionism, along with modern and contemporary art.
The modernization project, made possible with generous funds from an anonymous foundation and a bond from the State of Connecticut, greatly improves the visitor experience to these important galleries, which have been largely static for close to two decades yet are a mainstay of the museum’s educational programming, serving about 4,000 schoolchildren annually on docent-led field trips. The galleries previously stopped at 1945 but will now encompass art from the second half of the 20th century, better reflecting the importance of modern art and the breadth of the collection.
American Perspectives features never-before-seen objects, new research insights, and dynamic and accessible interpretation. Thematic groupings emphasize the social and historical contexts in which objects were created, in addition to celebrating their aesthetic beauty. Amaze Design of Boston has redesigned the gallery layout, altering walls to better fit groupings within the installation. The space features state-of-the-art LED lighting, new wall colors, a resurfaced floor, custom cases and platforms, and a cohesive system of graphic panels and labels enhanced by iBeacons and an interactive phone app. A building-wide HVAC project had facilitated necessary improvements to air handling, enabling the museum to better protect the collection with up-to-date temperature and humidity controls.