[ General Interviews ]

A Chat with Min Jung Kim, Director, New Britain Museum of American Art

July 20, 2016

By Janet Reynolds

Music Room at Whitehouse

Whitehouse Music Room, Norfolk

The turn of the 20th century was a time when many of America’s prominent families collected art, creating mini-museums in their homes. Ellen Battell Stoeckel and her family were part of that movement, and you have a rare opportunity to see their impressive collection of American art on Saturday, July 23.

That’s when Min Jung Kim, director of the New Britain Museum of American Art, will give a talk in the room in Whitehouse where the art has been displayed for decades. Standing amongst the Hudson River School artists and others represented in this impressive collection, Kim will talk about the symbiosis between this private collection and the impressive collections of American art at the NBMAA. The talk begins at 4 and is followed by a picnic dinner and live performance by the Bretano String Quartet.

“What a remarkable collection they have. It’s really a bit of a hidden gem,” Kim says. “From the perspective of New Britain Museum of American Art, it’s even more so seeing what great affinities and commonalties there are vis a vis our two collections.” Kim will talk about those commonalities in her talk called Kindred Collections: American Art at the New Britain Museum of American Art and the Battell Stoeckel Estate.

Both collections, Kim says, share many artists in common. The Battell Stoeckel collection focuses predominantly on 19th-century landscapes and Hudson River School paintings, including works by Thomas Cole, George Innes, and Frederic Edwin Church. The NBMAA, as the first museum devoted strictly to American art, obviously has a larger and broader collection of American art from all periods and genres.

But the collections also share similar roots, Kim says, with each institution having its start through patronage. “Both the evolution of the Battell collection and the Norfolk Festival came about as part of a cultivation of the family’s patronage,” she says. “It’s like our roots. The New Britain museum started as part of the New Britain Institute which was created to foster learning in a community of new immigrants.”

Kim will single out certain paintings in the collection to illustrate her talk. It is likely works by Cole will be one focus since both collections include works by him from the 1820s.