The Rockford Art Museum began as a local sketch club over a hundred years ago. Today, with 17,000 square feet of exhibition space and 1700 works of art in its permanent collection, it’s one of the largest art museums in Illinois. The museum features 19th and 20th century art. A big focus is on modern and contemporary works of art, but also includes American Masters, photography, contemporary glass and outsider art collections.
The museum’s three galleries are spread over two floors. The lower level exhibitions are from the permanent collections, including a couple of sculptures by famed Illinois artist Lorado Taft. We had seen several of Taft’s sculptures at the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois, so seeing these additional sculptures was a nice tie-in.
Some of my favorite pieces, because they were really funky, were part of last summer’s Oddities and Curiosities exhibition. I was particularly fascinated by Scott Roberts’ video installation, Viola, a mirror in which you see an image of the artist’s grandmother instead of yourself when you look into it. However, it isn’t a still image; rather, you see her blink and move her eyes.
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One of the museum’s prized collections was a donation from Francis and June Spiezer, that includes pieces from Chicago artists, many considered to be the most important in the art world.
The main floor of the museum is designated for temporary exhibitions that change three times a year. Our visit happened to fall during the Rockford Midwestern Biennial. Every other year artists from across the Midwest submit pieces to this juried show, the jurors brought in from the outside. All pieces submitted are required to have been created within two years prior to the show. Besides monetary awards, one piece is awarded the Dean Alan Olson Purchase Award. That piece goes into the Rockford Art Museum’s permanent collection.
The main floor also is where you’ll find the museum store, a great places to purchase unique gift items.
The Rockford Art Museum, located in the Riverfront Museum Park at 711 N Main Street in downtown Rockford, Illinois, is open daily from 10 to 5. Check the web site for directions and admission rates.
The museum campus, a Rockford Park District property, is also home to the Discovery Center Museum, Rockford Dance Company, Rockford Symphony Orchestra and Northern Public Radio. I’m no art critic, but I thought this staircase in the entryway of the museum campus was a work of art itself.
Disclosure: Our visit to the Rockford Art Museum was hosted by the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Rockford Art Museum. However, opinions expressed in this post are my own.
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