In general, museums “loan” artwork from their permanent collection to other similar institutions for a variety of reasons. The most common type of loan request is for an exhibition. Although “loaning” artwork to another museum sounds easy, it is a complicated process that should be made with great care.
The Cummer will consider lending artwork to an exhibition on a case by case basis. The exhibition must have scholarly merit with an underlying importance of public education and fall within the parameters of the Cummer’s mission statement. Further consideration is placed on the impact the loan request may have on the museum’s educational program as well as on the visitor experience. This is an important factor to consider as some loan requests are for six months to a year pending the number of venues an exhibition will travel to; this means the artwork will be absent from the museum galleries for an extended period of time.
It is also important to consider the physical condition and nature of the artwork requested, its ability to travel and the museum’s ability to care for the work while in their possession. This is of the utmost importance for the museum to consider before lending an object.
In Fall 2009, the Cummer received a letter from the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina. The letter requested the loan of our Robert Henri, Guide to Croaghan (Brien O’Malley) as part of an exhibition titled, From New York to Corrymore: Robert Henri and Ireland. This exhibition would be the first major museum-organized project about Henri in more than fifteen years as well as the first to consider the important body of work that he created during the six summers that he spent on Achill Island.
After much consideration, the Cummer decided to approve the Mint Museum’s loan request. The exhibition not only encompassed all of our required criteria but would also be an excellent opportunity for the museum to participate in. In addition, the exhibition will travel to two additional venues after its commencement at the Mint Museum, whose exhibition just ended August 7th. Our Henri will be joining the exhibition as it travels to The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico and then onto The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, New York. This means our painting will not be on view from August 2011 through the summer of 2012.
We are very excited to have our Henri painting participate in this exhibition. Of additional significance is the fact that this exhibition will bring together our Henri painting alongside another version that is in the Mint Museum’s collection, titled, My Friend Brien, for the first time. It thus presents a rare opportunity for visitors to compare the way that Henri captured different aspects of the subject matters central character, Brien O’Malley in the two different paintings (shown below).
So if you happen to be looking for our Robert Henri, Guide to Croaghan (Brien O’Malley) and you just can’t seem to figure out why it’s not in its normal place in the Lane Gallery, hopefully this give you some reprieve. Should the opportunity present itself that you are able to experience this brilliant exhibition, please be sure to let us know (we LOVE our guest bloggers). We will gladly miss our Henri, while it’s on loan, but it gives us great pleasure to know that there are other museum goers that will have the ability to view it for the first time and find out why our painting is such a treasure to have in our collection.