Barry McNamara  |  Published August 25, 2021


Exhibit from Monmouth College art collection now on display; reception is Aug. 27

'HIGHLIGHTS': Exhibit of pieces from Monmouth College art exhibition currently on display... 'HIGHLIGHTS': Exhibit of pieces from Monmouth College art exhibition currently on display in Hewes Library; reception is Aug. 27.
MONMOUTH, Ill. – More than six dozen works from Monmouth College’s art collection, some of which have not been seen by the public in years, are on display through Sept. 17 in the College’s Hewes Library.

Art professor Brian Baugh, who also serves as curator of College art collections, put together the exhibit, titled “Highlights from the Monmouth College Art Collection.” Housed in the two rooms of the Len G. Everett Galleries, the exhibit contains artworks and artifacts dating from the 14th century BCE to the late 20th century.

“Many of these works have not been on view here in a very long time, if ever,” said Baugh. “We are excited to share them with the campus and local community, and we hope that people are as delighted to see them in the gallery – and out of storage –as we are.”

On Aug. 27, a reception was held to celebrate the exhibit, and Baugh spoke about putting it together.

“I’ve taught here for 16 years, and it’s the first time we’ve expanded the collection to the bigger room,” said Baugh, who said the smaller room typically housed items from the James Christie Shields Collection of Art and Antiquities. “I wasn’t aware that we had such a large collection of two-dimensional art. … I was shocked that we have 14th-century paintings and this huge collection of Japanese printmaking from the 20th century.”

Baugh called those discoveries “a bit like Christmas.” And with each one, he began to better organize the collection in his mind’s eye, which led to the layout of the current exhibit.

“As best as I could, I tried to give people a good span of the last four or five hundred years of two-dimensional art. We’ve got these really old English and Spanish portraits, and a Spanish crucifixion from about 400 years ago, and the exhibit rolls through styles, too.” Brian Baugh

“My criteria for the big room was to focus on 20th-century art,” he said. “I stuck to the spirit of the smaller room, which is mostly the Egyptian and Roman works that we have.”

As he selected specific pieces to include in the exhibit, Baugh chose a representative variety.

“As best as I could, I tried to give people a good span of the last four or five hundred years of two-dimensional art,” he said. “We’ve got these really old English and Spanish portraits, and a Spanish crucifixion from about 400 years ago, and the exhibit rolls through styles, too. There’s a section devoted to realism, and a huge part of the collection is abstraction. … A lot of the collection is pieces that (retired art professors) George Waltershausen and Harlow Blum acquired over the years.”

The collection has grown through donations from alumni and friends of the College, and Baugh hopes that will continue to be the case.

“Everything that we have was pretty much given to us at one point in time,” said Baugh, who said that anyone reading this story who has an interesting art collection and is willing to donate pieces should contact him.

Listen Up …

Hear Brian Baugh discuss “Highlights from the Monmouth College Art Collection” and Stephanie Baugh preview the 2021-22 season on the 1853 Podcast.

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