The baking, the wrapping, trimming the tree, the holiday music—I embrace it all!

My Favorite Things began playing in my home weeks ago. (I favor the Tony Bennett rendition.) As soon as the temperature starts to dip to a justifiable level, my wife and I brew a pot of Peet’s to make our special Irish coffees. In the tradition of the storied Buena Vista café in San Francisco, we know the secret to getting the cream to float at just the right consistency. Believe me, it is an art form that has taken many festive cocktail hours to perfect, but our friends tell us it is worth it.

Along with all the Harrison/Anderson family traditions, I find the quickest way for me to get in the spirit of the season is by reflecting on all I have to be grateful for. Thankfully, the list seems to grow with each passing year. Yes, even 2021, a year we mostly want to forget, has included a surprisingly long list to reflect positively upon.

At the top of the list? The brilliant staff at The Newark Museum of Art. After three years here, I am confident I hit the talent lottery with this crew. The resilient team, working tirelessly, managed to increase accessibility, relevance, and innovation while most were working off-site for half the year. Tracking their progress has kept me motivated through every virus variant and negative news day.

Last week at our virtual holiday gathering, I had the opportunity to thank everyone for a mind-boggling range of initiatives somehow accomplished during this infamous and so imperfect 2021. Donning our ugly holiday sweaters and candy cane earrings, we had much to celebrate!

We were able to raise our collective glasses to growing our audience nationally, moving virtual programs to a hybrid model, and enhancing our collection with pieces from some of the most exciting contemporary artists in the country. We proved once again that we are an invaluable partner to our public schools as we kept the financial ship sailing. I am especially proud of our increased outreach to our local community while we established ourselves as a national forum for tough conversations with our first-ever racial and gender equity summit: The Moral Pandemic. We didn’t just survive the past 18 months. We recovered with new ambitions for the Museum and for our own professional development.

With the support of our trustees, members, generous donors, and top-notch business partners, the audacious started looking possible. Our boldest plans to renovate the façade of the historic Ballantine House, transform our former Earth Science gallery into a new floor-to-ceiling immersive experience, and gain city and state approvals for the visionary mixed-use real estate project—Museum Parc—are all either completed or are moving full speed ahead.

This work indeed takes a village. And I want to thank our volunteers for being an integral part of our larger team. They are the backbone of our organization, allowing us to increase our scale, scope, and influence in ways that would not be possible on our own. These dedicated individuals lead by example because they love the mission of The Newark Museum of Art. Thank you again for standing shoulder to shoulder with us as we reinvented ourselves with no other roadmap than our creativity and perseverance. We appreciate your patience, humor, and hard work.

Whether your favorite things include warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages, or your own special spiked hot beverage, I wish you the best of whichever holiday you celebrate this winter.

Bring it on, 2022. We are ready!

With gratitude,

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