Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Mattatuck: More Than a Museum
He shut off the lights, put on the projector and I fell in love. Yes, simple as it sounds, this simple act by an elderly professor was the start of my passion with art history. Sitting in the darkened room and looking at beautiful images of people, places and objects, I realized that I wanted to make a career that would involve me in the art world--particularly in museum work. And I would like to share this enthusiasm with you by acquainting you with the Mattatuck Museum Arts & History Center.
If you were a student in the Waterbury School system you most likely visited the museum either in 4th or 5th grade—a field trip that provided primary lessons in the region's history and in the basic elements of art. And it is also likely that you have not visited much since then. Well, now's the time. There is a lot to see and do at the Museum and in future columns Museum staff will be telling you about our exhibits and programs. In this first account let me begin by introducing you to Fortune.
In the early 20th century, the Mattatuck Museum was given the skeleton of an African American man named Fortune, who had been enslaved in Waterbury during the 18th century. His bones had been preserved by the man who had enslaved him, a local doctor. The bones remained in the doctor's family for four more generations, until they were given to the museum.
Research has now revealed much about Fortune’s life and the world in which he lived. A team of anthropologists, archeologists and historians, working with the museum’s staff, have given us new insights into local history and slavery in Connecticut, through their study of Fortune’s bones and historical documents. His story awaits your discovery in the Museum's history exhibit which presents the story of our region from the colonial era to the present day. You can find portraits of the people who figured in that era in the art galleries upstairs where the story of American art is presented from the 18th through 21st centuries. Changing art exhibits provide visitors with a variety of styles and subjects from contemporary Hispanic art to paintings by American masters at turn-of-the-century.
Now is the time to start a new relationship—with the museum. Visit: you can study the past, see art of the present, and, in new paths of self-discovery, learn where you fit in. Find out about the current exhibitions and special event programs at www.mattatuckmuseum.org . We look forward to seeing you.