WATERVILLE — Long recognized for its substantial and important American art collection, the Colby College Museum of Art will become the largest art museum in Maine, and confirm its status as one of the nation’s premier institutions of American art, with the opening of the Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion.

Inaugural exhibitions at the expanded museum will focus on the recently donated Lunder Collection, valued at more than $100 million, which is widely acknowledged as one of the most important holdings of American art ever assembled by private collectors.

The museum’s existing collection ranges from Colonial era portraits to contemporary works by Richard Serra, Sol LeWitt, Kara Walker and Alex Katz.

Designed by theLos Angeles-based firm Frederick Fisher and Partners Architects, the 26,000-square-foot pavilion is scheduled to open on July 13. It will create a light-filled gateway to the existing museum and provide an additional 10,000 square feet of exhibition space.

The Lunder Collection comprises more than 500 objects, 464 of them by American masters including John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, George Inness, William Merritt Chase, Winslow Homer, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Edward Hopper, Alexander Calder and Georgia O’Keeffe. It also features important contemporary American works by Alex Katz, Louise Nevelson, Romare Bearden, Donald Judd, John Chamberlain, George Rickey and Jenny Holzer.

The collection includes a concentration of works by James McNeill Whistler, including the painting “Chelsea in Ice” (1864), almost two dozen more paintings, watercolors and pastels and a group of 201 etchings and lithographs, accompanied by150 books, journals, photographs and archival materials related to Whistler.


The Lunder Collection also includes 40 examples of Chinese ritual and mortuary ceramics dating from the prehistoric period to the Jin Dynasty (1126-1234), which complement the museum’s existing holdings in Chinese ceramics.

The donation of the Lunder Collection was announced as a promised gift in 2007. In 2009, the College approved the designs for the Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion, named in recognition of a gift from the Harold Alfond Foundation and the partnership and friendship between Harold Alfond and Peter Lunder. The museum formally took possession of the works in the Lunder Collection in September, as construction was proceeding on the pavilion.

Refined and minimalist in design, the glass pavilion completes a circuit with the three existing wings of the museum, unifying them and contrasting with the Georgian-style brick architecture found elsewhere on campus.

The pavilion will now be the main entrance to the museum, providing a spacious lobby that will include a sculpture gallery and terrace, as well as new exhibition galleries, classrooms, a conference room and staff offices. A glass-enclosed stairwell will be installed with a monumental, three-story wall drawing by Sol LeWitt, which will be visible from a distance to visitors arriving on the campus’s main thoroughfare. The pavilion’s upper floor is dedicated to the college’s art department, providing new studios for photography and fine art foundation classes, faculty offices and a student lounge.

“This new pavilion is conceived as a glass prism that will reflect its natural and architectural context in continuously changing images,” said architect Fredrick Fisher. “The reflecting nature of the glass expresses the theme that art provides the opportunity to reflect on life. This was central to the museum’s position as a beacon of creativity and innovation on campus.”

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