Director's Message

November 2019

Original Cushing Building finial

The Cushing building became the center of attention this year, both inside and out. Considering the fact that the structure’s foundational stone was placed in 1919, it seems perfectly appropriate to have it as our focus on the anniversary of its centenary.

To be sure, the most labor-intensive activity was the replacement of the building’s roof, cupola and historic dome with its original decorative finial, pictured here, which had obviously suffered the ravages of time and harsh New England weather. An exact replica of the finial needed to be designed, approved by the Rhode Island Historic Preservation and Heritage Commission and fabricated of lead coated metal.

Historically accurate replica

This historically significant renovation was completed just in time for the installation of the “Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney: Sculpture” exhibition, organized and traveled by the Norton Museum of Art. Our Museum was a fitting venue for Mrs. Whitney’s sculptures as she was actively involved with our Museum from its earliest days and was the largest supporter of the creation of the Cushing Memorial Gallery, which was dedicated to her fellow artist and close friend Howard Gardiner Cushing.

Thanks to members of the Cushing family, we were also able to exhibit several panels painted by Mr. Cushing for Mrs. Whitney’s Long Island studio. The mural had been recently removed from the studio and expertly restored in order to ensure its preservation. This simultaneous viewing of Whitney / Cushing artworks marked another special moment in our Museum’s rich history.

Throughout the year, our dedicated Museum staff were busy curating and installing other exhibitions, presenting related lectures, films, performances, educational outreach initiatives, docent-led tours, art excursions, studio art classes, and special events. None of these well attended activities would have been possible without the generous support of foundations, corporations, state funding, and of course, philanthropic individuals.

Today’s art museums are dynamic sites of civic and cultural exchange, experiential learning, intergenerational and interdisciplinary connections, new ideas, and even protest. We engage with our audiences 24/7 – online, across platforms and around the world. Never a dull moment.