The Nantucket Historical Association is pleased to announce that it is furthering its mission of showcasing the important stories of Nantucket by returning a portion of its Peter Foulger Museum building on Broad Street to gallery space dedicated to the fine arts. The NHA believes the impact of the arts and its transformative effect on Nantucket is an essential story to tell at the museum and is excited to be able to activate more space for visitors to enjoy.
As part of its Fine Arts Initiative, the NHA has mounted an exhibit from the Sara Roby Foundation Collection, on loan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in the Whaling Museum’s McCausland Gallery, which is named in honor of a leadership gift from Bonnie and Peter McCausland. Modern American Realism: Highlights from the Sara Roby Foundation Collection is a significant piece of Nantucket history, having been assembled by the late Nantucket resident and artist Sara Roby and first exhibited by the NHA at the Fair Street Museum in 1984. In order for the NHA to accept a traveling exhibition of this caliber from SAAM, major upgrades to the infrastructure and systems of the museum were required.
After much analysis of the various properties owned by the NHA, it was determined that the Foulger building’s first floor was the perfect place to provide additional gallery space to showcase the NHA collections, many of which have been acquired by the Friends of the NHA. Space that had previously been used for administrative purposes will be activated as modern gallery space, providing residents and visitors new opportunities to engage with Nantucket’s artistic past.
“The NHA was curtailed in its ability to showcase much of its fine art collection and as a consequence, much of the NHA’s collection remained in storage,” states James Russell, Gosnell Executive Director. “The new gallery space will focus on the fine arts and pair with the McCausland Gallery directly above to create a new Fine Arts Wing. We are extremely grateful for the enthusiasm and support we have received from our trustees and donors for this initiative.”
The central space of the new Fine Arts Wing is anchored by a gallery named in honor of NHA Board President Kelly Williams and her husband, Andrew Forsyth, whose leadership gift spearheaded this initiative. “Andrew and I are so pleased to support this critical initiative at the NHA to provide world-class gallery space for exhibits,” says Williams. “We believe the story of Nantucket’s art colony and its redemptive impact on the fortunes of the island is an instructive one for any community looking to reposition its economy. Art is not frivolous; it is a reflection of society and a major contributor to the financial well-being of a community. We are all better for the inclusion of artists and art in our lives.”
The NHA will mount a retrospective of Two Hundred Years of American Art on Nantucket: Pairings from the NHA and Private Collections in the Williams Forsyth Gallery starting June 15. The exhibit is being curated by Anne Classen Knutson, Ph.D., and an advisory committee comprised of Robert Frazier, Artistic Director of the Artists Association of Nantucket; Benjamin Simons, Director of the Academy Art Museum and former Robyn and John Davis Chief Curator at the NHA; John Sylvia of Sylvia Antiques; and Steve Langer, Chair of the Friends of the NHA Acquisitions Committee.
The Project Team includes Victoria McManus, Trustee and Chair of the Properties Committee, and Edwin Rudd, Director of Facilities. The general contractor is Scott Andersen of The Andersen Company in Nantucket. The architect is Robert Miklos, FAIA of designLAB architects in Boston.