BANGOR, Maine — Visitors to the University of Maine Museum of Art will enjoy another year of free admission in 2010, which may help draw viewers to a new permanent exhibition about conservation launching in January.
UMMA Director George Kinghorn announced Monday that Machias Savings Bank has renewed a program which opens the museum to the public for free, upping its gift from the previous two years to $7,500, which Kinghorn said will help with expenses as the museum has seen a nearly 60 percent increase in visitors since the free admission program was announced in 2007.
There were 5,933 visitors to the museum in 2008. That number has already jumped this year to 7,059 through October.
Machias Savings Bank had given $5,000 in the first two years of the program.
The museum is frequently visited by senior and student groups, and others who might not be able to afford a visit, Kinghorn said. Regular admission is $3.
“I cannot tell you how many visitors come through the door and express their appreciation for being able to enjoy the changing exhibitions and the permanent collection, and to be able to enjoy those for free,” he said.
Machias Savings Bank has made the gifts in honor of Ted Leonard, a Bangor lawyer who with his wife, Sandra Blake Leonard, was a longtime supporter of the museum. Ted Leonard died in 2007.
Machias Savings Bank Senior Vice President Traci Sanborn said the museum’s local impact was a consideration in increasing the gift amount.
“A lot of [the museum’s visitors] are coming from this area and around Maine,” said Sanborn, who on Monday visited the UMaine museum for the first time. “I think because of the economy people are not able to do the things they like to do, and they can come to the museum for free and spend some time here.”
While continued growth is always a goal for any museum, 2010 will also be a year during which the museum will focus on conservation, Kinghorn said.
A permanent exhibit, which is to open Jan. 15 in conjunction with four new temporary exhibits, will include a dedicated space in the museum with a work of art on display in a custom-built case before it goes out for conservation. The exhibit will include educational materials and information about the history of and specific conservation issues involved in the work.
UMMA has established a list of 20 items in its collection which are in need of conservation. The museum has more than 3,100 holdings.
“The hope is that we will generate great enthusiasm among our museum members and visitors in helping us support these works and help us conserve them for generations to come,” Kinghorn said. “The conservation of our collection should be one of our priorities. We have wonderful works and we’re trying to bring them as close to their original state as possible.”
A different work will be featured every four months. The first work is an 1888 etching by Winslow Homer titled “Perils of the Sea,” which needs to be removed from an acidic board and put through a deacidification process.
Several of the museum’s Picassos are being worked on by a conservator based in Williamstown, Mass. They are scheduled to be displayed next fall.
“Perils of the Sea” will go on display next month along with four new exhibitions. The new shows are “Resonant Places: Paintings by Megan Chase”; “Simple Complexity: Installation and Works by Gerry Stecca”; “Burnt Cove: Watercolors of the Maine Landscape by Gerald Matthew Immonen”; and “Bio-Permutation: Sculptures by David Isenhour.”
For more information, go to www.umma.umaine.edu or call 561-3350.