Exhibit shows Singers' love of art

January 27, 2007|by MARIE GILBERT

HAGERSTOWN - Those who think Hagerstown lacks big cultural events took one squarely on the chin Friday night.

There was plenty of culture, with a dose of celebration tossed in, as the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts hosted the opening of a new international exhibition, "Loving Art: The William & Anna Singer Collection."

Friday's event was for members only, with the exhibit opening to the public today at 9 a.m.

The exhibition, which spotlights the extensive collection of the Singers, simultaneously honors the 75th anniversary of the local museum and the 50th anniversary of its sister museum, the Singer Museum, in Laren, Netherlands. Both museums were founded by the Singers.

According to Ann Prentice Wagner, curator of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, the exhibit, organized by the Netherlands museum, was about four years in the making and was a collaborative effort.


"There was a fair amount of contact between our museum and the Singer Museum," Wagner said. "It was a wonderful cooperative project. And tonight, you see the results."

The Singer Collection has permanent homes in the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts; the Singer Museum in the Netherlands; Singerheimen, the Singer home in Olden, Norway; the West Norway Museum of Decorative Art in Bergen, Norway; and private collections.

The local exhibition features pieces from all of these sources, Wagner said, and ranges from oil paintings and watercolors to bronze sculptures and decorative art objects.

This is the only American show for the exhibit, she said.

Wagner said there has been a great deal of excitement leading up to the opening of the new exhibition.

"I can tell you, we've certainly been excited," she said.

"It's a momentous evening for us," said Joseph Ruzicka, director of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. "This is our first international loan exhibition in 50 years, so it's very special."

About 150 people attended Friday night's opening. Special guests included Ineke Middag, director of the Singer Museum in Laren; and Helen Schretlen, author of the exhibition companion catalog available at the museum's gift shop.

William H. Singer Jr. was a landscape painter and his wife, Anna Brugh Singer, grew up in Hagerstown.

The couple spent most of their adult lives in Europe pursuing their interests in painting and collecting art.

Ruzicka estimated that the Singers acquired more than 3,000 pieces of American, European and Asian art from 1900 to 1940.

"You really aren't aware of the breadth of what they collected until you see this exhibit," he said. "It's so intriguing."

The exhibition continues through April 15.

If you go

What: "Loving Art: The William & Anna Singer Collection"

When: Today through April 15. Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.

Where: Groh Gallery, Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, City Park, Hagerstown

Free. For information, call 301-739-5727 or go to

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