The Speed Art Museum in Louisville reopened in spring 2016 after four years of renovation and expansion. “A lot more of the collection is now on view than it used to be, which is great for our visitors, to be able to share more of the treasures that we have,” said Chief Curator Scott Erbes.
Erika Holmquist-Wall, curator of European and American paintings and sculpture, said the museum had a chance to reinvent itself. “We’re basically opening an entire museum from scratch. And that’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
The museum appeals to people of all ages, she said. Art Sparks is the museum’s interactive gallery for all ages, where visitors are encouraged to create their own art and learn different ways of seeing the world. “It’s basically using art as a way to get to know each other better,” said Holmquist-Wall. “And learn about art as well.”
What should a new visitor look for? Erbes has some ideas. “Well, I think if you’re looking for individual works of art, we have a great portrait by Rembrandt, certainly one of the most significant figures in Dutch painting in his time,” he said. The oil painting, “Portrait of a Forty Year Old Woman,” is from 1634.
The museum also has several works by prominent contemporary artist Sam Gilliam, 82, who grew up in Louisville and is known for his innovations in abstract art. (His latest work, “Yet Do I Marvel,” is in the lobby of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American Culture and History.)
Erbes also encourages visitors to check out the Native American Art Collection. Frederick Weygold, an illustrator, photographer and collector of Native American art, was a friend of museum founder Hattie Speed and donated his collection to the museum in the 1930s.
This segment is part of Kentucky Life episode #2201, which originally aired on October 1, 2016. Watch the full episode.