Fall, and the transitions that come with it, always reminds me of the adage “the only thing constant is change.” And just like one of my favorite times of the year, this is a good thing.

A great thing, in fact, because the changes I am referring to will both illuminate and honor the Museum’s historic architecture for anyone passing by our front doors on Washington Street.

Artist Phillip K. Smith III

Beginning next week, we will debut our new long-term installation by renowned light artist and architect Phillip K. Smith, during the first evening of the Newark Arts Festival. Responding to the striking geometries of the Museum’s historic main entrance, Smith’s dramatic piece, entitled Three Half Lozenges, will light up the three main windows of our iconic Beaux Arts façade. The first major site-specific installation for this artist on the East Coast, Three Half Lozenges delivers on our strategy to create a truly vibrant cultural district for residents and visitors. With a slowly changing sequence of LED lights that emerge every evening at dusk, the installation literally illuminates our corner of Newark. We invite you to come downtown to enjoy the new view.

Continuing our work to enhance our first impressions, we will also soon embark on a major restoration project for the exterior of the beloved Ballantine House. Built in 1885 as the home of the celebrated beer brewing family, this crown jewel in our collection (yes, the entire house is a collection object) was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1985.

Like any Victorian structure, the Ballantine House needs extensive and ongoing renovation and restoration—expensive items in any century. After decades of necessarily delaying upkeep of the exterior, I developed a plan, along with the expertise of the curatorial staff and our Board of Trustees, to dedicate the necessary funds to restore the decaying limestone that makes up the front of the house and its portico. Our innovative approach calls for the fragile limestone to be replaced with cast stone, which is much more durable but still period appropriate.

With this Director’s Letter, I am very happy to report that the Newark Landmarks Commission, New Jersey’s Historic Preservation Office, and the New Jersey Historic Trust wholeheartedly support this approach and have approved our plans. This noteworthy project is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of this year and will be completed in the spring of 2022. It’s an ambitious schedule with a great deal of momentum, thanks to our partners in city and state government and a very dedicated Museum team.

Preserving history, energizing our sidewalks, and sharing a renowned artist with all of our passersby feel like a great start to the autumn season! Thank you again to our elected officials who have enthusiastically supported these joint gifts to the city and the region.

In closing, I would like to pause to share another of life’s constant changes: saying good-bye. Our dear friend and generous philanthropist, Amy Liss, passed away last week, leaving quite a void for her family, many friends, and recipients of her patronage. Rest in peace, Amy, and thank you for believing in the beauty and power of art and culture.

In anticipation of new beginnings!

Linda C. Harrison
Director and CEO
The Newark Museum of Art