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Toledo Museum of Art reinterprets American art collection in new installation

February 28, 2023

Thomas Cole, The Architect’s Dream, 1840. Oil on canvas. Painting: 53 in. x 84 1/16 in. Frame: 58 3/4 x 90 3/8 x 3 1/2 in. Toledo Museum of Art, Purchased with funds from the Florence Scott Libbey Bequest in Memory of her Father, Maurice A. Scott. 1949.162.

Expanding Horizons: The Evolving Character of a Nation, opening March 18 at the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA), serves as both an experiment and an invitation. The reinstallation of the Museum’s American art collection will put more than 80 objects in conversation with each other and welcome visitors to share feedback. Art by Thomas Cole, Kathy Vargas, Frederic Remington and Kehinde Wiley will be among the featured works, many of which will be on view for the first time at TMA.  

To invite new understanding, the installation will move away from typical ways of grouping art by historical periods and stylistic similarities. Instead, TMA will organize the works using two themes — mythmaking and religion — bringing together different time periods, materials and techniques. “This reinterpretation of the Toledo Museum of Art’s American art collection will highlight how art can reveal and question aspects of national identity and character,” said Erin Corrales-Diaz, TMA’s curator of American art. “TMA aims to spark curiosity among visitors and encourage them to be more deliberate and conscious in their assessment of the art on view, casting aside familiar artistic and historical narratives to develop a new and broader understanding about the works. The Museum is committed to remaining a trustworthy source for interpreting and understanding works of art, which involves frequent analysis and updating the stories on display in the galleries.” 

The installation will consider overlooked movements, impulses and experiences, especially those that foreground women’s voices, migrant experiences and perspectives from communities of color. As visitors tour the galleries, they can provide their opinions about historical context, what it means to see the artworks presented in new ways and more. TMA will gather additional feedback during a professional symposium in July. Input from these sources will help shape future installations. 

“Visitor responses will provide critical input as we consider reinstalling the rest of TMA’s collection,” said Andrea Gardner, TMA’s senior director of collections and curatorial affairs. “Expanding Horizons presents a chance for the team to experiment with a variety of themes, interpretation strategies and narratives. We are eager to see how visitors respond to a new way of presenting American art.” 


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