Albany Museum of Art 'Homecoming' exhibition opens Friday morning

·3 min read

May 12—ALBANY — In the aftermath of straight-line winds that tore part of the roof off the Albany Museum of Art in 2017, the initial prognosis was that the building was a total loss and rain from the weather event that struck the region had left some of the artwork damaged.

This week, the building, which was able to be salvaged, is welcoming home some 2,000 art pieces that were sent to two other museums for repair and storage.

The "Homecoming" event for the works started on Thursday for museum members, and on Friday the returned treasures will be available for view to the public at large for a three-month exhibition. The museum is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, and there is no cost for admission.

On Wednesday, museum employees were putting the finishing touch on preparations in the museum's galleries.

The works that will be on display represent some of the favorite works of members and the public, Katie Dillard, the AMA's director of curatorial affairs, said.

The items selected for exhibition represent a small part of the total collection but feature a wide range of works and styles, from African masks to photography to works by Andy Warhol and more.

"We have everything from pop art to Renaissance art to everything in between," Dillard said. "We also have a lot of Georgia artists. We try to support them by having them in our collection.

"There's really no order or theme. It's really just pieces we wanted to feature. Some of the pieces haven't been displayed in many years, for whatever reason. We're trying to pull out as many pieces as possible, some that our members and guests will recognize, some that are new."

After the assessment of storm damage from Jan. 2, 2017, work began immediately with the collection initially "triaged" in a part of the building where the roof was still intact. With the museum's climate-control system knocked out due to the loss of electricity, keeping them there long-term was out of the question.

"Most of the pieces couldn't stay in what was basically a warehouse," Dillard said during a Wednesday tour of two of the galleries.

During the tour, Dillard pointed out several works that suffered water damage, but said that the restoration work had nearly erased any hint of that damage.

"The heart of the institution has returned and everything is intact," museum Executive Director Andrew J. Wulf said. "Everything is at the site. This is a true homecoming."

The AMA is "deeply grateful" to the sister museums for their assistance with restoration and storing the collection.

While the building was repaired in about nine months, the time taken for restoration work and cataloging the collection was extensive.

"I think it's pretty rare for a museum to have their entire collection shipped off and they don't have a single piece or artifact," Wulf said. "It's actually a long period to come back from being fully out of commission to basically open."