Volunteers In Art

Nevada Museum of Art
Donald W. Reynolds Center for the Visual Arts: E. L. Wiegand Gallery

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Light the Candles!

Happy 80th Birthday, Nevada Museum of Art!

As the Nevada Museum of Art celebrates its 80th year, it seems fitting to take a look at the people who made it all happen. The Museum has been, and still is, a work in progress, put together by a wonderful mixed bag of directors, curators, artists, philanthropists, museum staff and a whole lot of volunteers. But it took a couple of unlikely visionaries to get the ball rolling. They were, of course, Dr. James Church and Charles F. Cutts. James Church was twenty-three years old when he came to Reno from Michigan in 1892. Although he came to teach classics at the University of Nevada, he soon developed a passionate interest in the nearby mountains and spent as much time as he could hiking and studying weather and snowfall there.

landscapeCarol Edmonson, Portrait of James Church, 1955, Graphite on board, 21 3/4 X 15 3/4 inches. Collection of Nevada Museum of Art, Bequest of Charles E. Cutts.

From 1898 to 1899 he did graduate work in Michigan and then earned a doctorate in Germany. On his return to Reno, Dr. Church began to study in earnest weather and snow patterns in the Sierras. He was one of the founders of the Mount Rose Meteorological Observatory in 1906. He developed a method for determining the water content of the Sierra snow pack and traveled around the world as a consultant in snow measuring techniques. He taught at the university until 1939.

His friend Charles Cutts was two years younger than Church. He came to Nevada in 1891 from New Hampshire, where he had attended business school. He established a successful dry goods business in Carson City. He developed a deep interest in studying and collecting art. He was careful with his money so that he could have enough to invest in artwork. He kept meticulous notebooks where he documented his art purchases as well as his impressions of the artists and their work. He bought a home at 643 Ralston in Reno which he filled with his extensive library and art collection. It was this building that would become the first real home for the Nevada Museum of Art.

In 1931, at Church’s urging, Cutts agreed to be a co-founder of the Nevada Gallery of Art. They had the support of many in the community. Most prominent among those was the Latimer Art Club (still a supporter of the Museum). But for the next twenty-odd years there were stops and starts, money problems and legal questions which prevented the establishment of an actual museum with a physical plant. In 1949 Charles Cutts died, bequeathing his home and his entire art collection to the Nevada Art Gallery. Finally, in 1954, the museum took up residence in the Cutts home. The foundations of the collection were Cutts’ acquisitions of a lifetime -- paintings, etchings and Native American artifacts.

The Museum moved to the Hawkins House in 1978 and with the help of the E.L. Wiegand Foundation, moved into a building on Liberty Street in 1989. In 2003 the Nevada Museum of Art moved into its beautiful new building on that same site.

landscapePhotograph of James E. Church in his University of Nevada office.

So when we consider the founders -- those two friends -- one a businessman and one a classics professor/hydrologist -- we have to think that they would be very pleased with what has become of their dream. The Nevada Museum of Art has gained an international reputation for refusing to draw a line between art and science, or between art and environment. This is a museum which questions, informs and delights in all manner of things. It has become what they intended -- a ‘museum of ideas’.

So let’s raise a toast to them and to all of us for continuing their work. (Perhaps the toast could be made with Dr. Church’s Living Room Lager, a beer developed for this 80th birthday celebration by the Great Basin Brewing Company.


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News & Updates

ART + ENVIRONMENT CONFERENCE Begins September 29th through October 1st. Be sure to register early or contact Rosalind for a volunteer’s view of this event.

Second Saturdays are Free. Thanks to the Nightingale Family Foundation, admission to the Museum is FREE every second Saturday throughout 2011.

First Thursday Enjoy a cool beverage 5 to 7 PM while listening to the Whitney Myer Band, August 4th and Max Yasgur’s Band, September 1st. Free valet parking for your bike, courtesy of Reno Bike Project. Admission $10/ Members FREE

Talk and Tasting: Tom Young, Jazz Aldrich, Ancient Egyptian Homebrew and Dr. Church’s Living Room Lager Enjoy an original brew and learn the process of recreating an authentic Egyptian beer in honor of Museum founder, James E. Church. Thursday, August 11th, 6 - 7 PM. $12/ $8 Members. Fee includes one beer, additional beer available for purchase.

Wander through the wilderness one last time. Don’t miss the imagery of Ansel Adams Distance and Detail. Exhibit ends August 14th.

Sunday Jazz Brunch 11 AM to 1 PM, welcomes Dickie Mills Group, Sunday, August 21st. On September 18th, enjoy the music of the Jackie Landrum Trio. Admission is FREE. A la carte brunch menu provided by Café Musée. Brunch menu $5-$15.

Join local bands, Very Pretty Pigeon and Memory Motel rooftop for an Indie Rock Night Thursday, August 18th. 6 - 7:30 PM. Admission is $3.

A Special Exhibition Art, Science and the Arc of Inquiry The Evolution of the Nevada Museum of Art, comprised of archival materials, including photographs, newspaper articles and artworks, from the Museum’s Collection and the University of Nevada, Reno Special Collections. August 27th-29th. FREE with admission fee.

Art Break Bring a friend and peek “behind the scenes” with fellow Museum volunteers Thursday, September 8th. Lecture begins at 5 PM followed by Museum tour.

The Altered Landscape: Photographs of a Changing Environment opens Saturday, September 24th commemorating the Museum’s 80th anniversary of the institution’s signature photography collection examining human interaction and intervention with the environment.

Museum Hours

Wednesday – Sunday 10 AM to 5 PM
Thursdays 10 AM to 8 PM
Closed Monday, Tuesday and National Holidays

Wednesday – Sunday 11 AM to 2 PM
1st Thursday 5 to 7 PM

Wednesday – Sunday 11 AM – 4:30 PM
Closed Monday & Tuesday

Tuesday – Friday 9AM - 5PM

Volunteers Needed

Are you interested in serving on the volunteer board? Have you always wanted to explore being a docent? We are currently looking for help in these areas as well as the Annual Arts and Flowers Luncheon, support for planning volunteer recognition events and administration work. For more information, please contact Rosalind Bedell at rosalind.bedell@nevadaart.org.

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