September 9, 2015
Lyman Allyn Art Museum
Press Contact: Rebecca Marsie, Communications Coordinator
860.443.2545 x112 / [email protected]
Click here to see the article by Kristina Dorsey published in The Day


New London – The Lyman Allyn Art Museum is pleased to announce the largest donation it has ever received, $250,000 given anonymously by a private foundation, which will enable a complete reinstallation of its primary exhibition of American Art. This historic grant has been received just as the museum is about to modernize its HVAC facilities (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) with funding from a $1,500,000 bond issue approved in last year’s Connecticut State budget and administered by the Department of Economic and Community Development. The results of these two complementary efforts “will dramatically improve every aspect of the visitor experience in the galleries of American Art, and help modernize the entire institution,” said Lyman Allyn Director, Sam Quigley.

Downes Construction Company, of New Britain, CT has been chosen as the construction management firm that will oversee the modernization of the climate control systems. Their behind-the-scenes work will update and extend the climate control infrastructure to maintain a stable, museum-quality environment for the care and preservation of the art collection. The facilities modernization project will be implemented while the museum remains open to the public. It will include a switchover to natural gas from oil, the replacement of all components of the HVAC physical plant, a new roof and the installation of new energy-efficient LED lighting throughout the building. In addition, the facilities modernization project will create a new “Open Storage” display for self-directed discovery of selections of the permanent collection that will now be located in the Hendel Library, nearby the American Art galleries on the first floor.

The new installation of American Art in the Palmer Galleries will be planned and implemented by museum personnel along with a recently hired project curator, Tanya Pohrt, Ph.D. of Hamden, CT, and an exhibition design firm, Amaze Design of Boston, MA. The new exhibition will supplant the existing “American Stories,” the mainstay of the Museum’s educational programming. These galleries annually serve more than 4,000 schoolchildren on docent-led field trips, and provide enjoyable and educational gallery experience for thousands of adult visitors.

This project will be the first major refurbishment of the primary galleries in more than a decade and will display works of art from Colonial times right up to the 21st century, featuring well-known and beloved paintings alongside furniture and other decorative arts. Special displays drawing attention to art from originating cultures will punctuate the visitor experience and provide opportunities to underscore the contributions of many immigrant groups that make up the pluralistic society America is today.

Planning for the new installation will begin immediately, but the temporary closing of the Palmer Galleries is scheduled for the summer of 2016. According to Jane LeGrow, Registrar and Director of Exhibitions for the Museum, “the timing of the closing is planned to coincide with another engaging museum offering, our major special exhibition on Connecticut Impressionist, J. Alden Weir, which will be on view throughout the summer of 2016.”

The new American galleries will have informative and accessible multi-layered narratives, delivered via printed panels on the walls as well as printed gallery guides in English and Spanish. Additional context and content will be delivered digitally by a custom-designed app for mobile phones so that the gallery experience will be enhanced and modernized for the 21st century visitor. “Everything – from gallery cosmetics, storylines, exhibition fixtures, lighting and seating – everything will be brought up to best standards. The exhibition experience will be much more complete and enjoyable,” said Quigley.

About museum climate control
For the proper care and preservation of priceless art objects, stable temperature and relative humidity must be maintained throughout the year – regardless of the huge variations of New England’s seasons. The goal is to maintain the environment inside the Museum at the relative humidity of 50% +/-5% and at a temperature setting of 70º +/- 2º Fahrenheit. This is a complex task that requires adding moisture into the air during the winter, and removing it during the summer. To accomplish this, industrial-strength equipment must be carefully calibrated to constantly monitor prevailing exterior and interior climate changes and react to stabilize environmental conditions inside the museum.

The new HVAC system will replace the outdated equipment that currently does this. In addition, the Museum will become much more energy efficient by virtue of switching from oil to natural gas, and from tungsten to LED lighting. The project will take the better part of a year to bring it to completion, during which time the museum will remain open.

As a result of the facilities modernization work, about 25% more public space inside the museum will be brought up to gallery conditions. Climate throughout the building will be much more reliably maintained. The Lyman Allyn will improve its ability to properly care for and preserve the artworks the museum holds in trust for the residents of southeastern Connecticut and visitors from all over the world.

With these two major projects happening in the coming months, the Lyman Allyn Art Museum will increase its capability and reaffirm its role as a vitally important art museum providing cultural and educational opportunities for all in the southeastern Connecticut community and to visitors from all over the world.

Check the museum website at and our Facebook page for updates. On Twitter, follow the hashtag #modernlymanallyn.

For more information or images, please contact Rebecca Marsie at 860.443.2545 x112 or at [email protected].

About the Lyman Allyn Art Museum
The Lyman Allyn Art Museum welcomes visitors from New London, southeastern Connecticut and all over the world. Established in 1926 by a gift from Harriet Allyn in memory of her seafaring father, the Museum opened the doors of its beautiful neo-classical building surrounded by 11 acres of green space in 1932. Today it presents a number of changing exhibitions each year and houses a fascinating collection of over 15,000 objects from ancient times to the present; artworks from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe, with particularly strong collections of American paintings, decorative arts and Victorian toys and doll houses.

The museum is located at 625 Williams Street, New London, Connecticut, exit 83 off I-95. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Sundays 1:00 – 5:00 pm; closed Mondays and major holidays. For more information call 860.443.2545, ext. 129 or visit us on Facebook or the web at:

Lyman Allyn receives largest donation ever, with $250,000 grant.

Published September 09. 2015 12:01AM

By Kristina Dorsey

The Lyman Allyn Art Museum has received a $250,000 grant given anonymously by a private foundation, making it the largest donation ever made to the New London museum.

The money will be used to reinstall the Lyman Allyn’s American art exhibition in the Palmer Galleries. It will feature paintings, furniture and other decorative arts dating from the Colonial era to the present.

This marks the first major refurbishment of the Palmer Galleries in upwards of 10 years. Those galleries will be closed temporarily next summer as the work is done.

The new installation is being planned and implemented by museum staff, along with project curator Tanya Pohrt of Hamden and exhibition design firm Amaze Design of Boston, Mass.

As the Lyman Allyn delves into this project, it’s also modernizing its heating, ventilation and air conditioning facilities with the $1.5 million bond issue approved last year by the state and administered by the Department of Economic and Community Development. Downes Construction Company of New Britain will oversee the modernization of the climate control systems.

The effort also will include installing a new roof and energy-efficient LED lighting.

“It’s really going to be a great year striding forward at the Lyman Allyn,” says Lyman Allyn Director Sam Quigley.

He adds, “It’s an opportunity we have been trying to develop, and we’re exceedingly grateful to the foundation that’s making this available to us. … It gives us the wherewithal, the means, to move forward in a very dramatic way. To create a new exhibition of our American art holdings is an extraordinary opportunity and one that we really are looking forward to making the most out of.”

The new display will boast paintings, furniture, sculpture and more. Where the opportunity presents itself, the Lyman Allyn will show the history of American art through the lens of southeastern Connecticut and, more specifically, of New London, underscoring the history of art creation here. It will also reflect the contributions of the immigrant groups that “make up the pluralistic society America is today,” according to a Lyman Allyn statement.

That exhibition will replace “American Stories,” which has been seen by more than 4,000 students each year, as well as thousands of adults. That show is designed chronologically and ends just after World War II.

Every aspect of the American installation will be refreshed, Quigley says. There will be more decorative arts — furniture, tableware and so on — and sculpture displayed. Even the familiar works will be juxtaposed in new ways. A section of works on paper will illuminate the backstory of various paintings.

As for the HVAC work, the lobby and Glassenberg Gallery will become climate-controlled environments. (As Lyman Allyn notes, for the proper care and preservation of art, stable temperature and relative humidity should be maintained throughout the year.) The Hendel Library will become the site of open storage — 30 feet of 7-foot-tall cases covered with glass. Those cases will be climate controlled and will feature items from the museum’s permanent collection, such as tortoise-shell women’s hair ornaments from the late 19th century; small glassware from ancient Roman times; and little pots from pre-Columbian South America.

“This will mean portions of our collection, which are pretty much unknown and never seen upstairs in our vault, will be seen in a new way,” Quigley says.

The Lyman Allyn will augment the gallery experience with a custom-made app allowing visitors more opportunities to learn about what they’re seeing and to discover how it fits into the context of American art. In addition, more of a narrative will be displayed on wall texts. The Lyman Allyn will provide printed gallery guides in both English and Spanish, too.

Quigley says it’s all “going to be mean very good things for the long term (future) of the collection, the preservation of it and the proper stewardship of it. At the same time, we are attending to the primary galleries and the visitors that come see what we are known for — American art.”

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