College Unveils Newly Renovated Phillips Museum of Art

The addition of the Nissley Gallery, made possible by a gift from Thomas W. Nissley '55 and Emily Baldwin Nissley, provides more space fpr exhibiting the College's permanent collection.

The Phillips Museum of Art has undergone a series of renovations over the past year, including a new main entrance on the College Avenue side of Steinman College Center; the addition of a fourth gallery, the Nissley Gallery; the installation of a new security system; and the introduction of light-emitting diode (LED) lighting. The renovations also included enlarging the Rothman and Gibson Curriculum Galleries and improving classroom space.

Eliza Reilly, director of the museum and visiting assistant professor of American studies, says the renovations have enhanced the museum as an exhibition space and working environment.

“The galleries in the museum now have the ability to fully realize the national goals and aspirations of their founding donors,” Reilly says. “The modernization and upgrading of the lighting system and security system have already improved our ability to host traveling exhibitions and borrow art from the most demanding lenders.”

Originally dedicated in 2000, the Phillips Museum of Art was made possible by a major gift from Virginia A. and Thomas G. Phillips III ’54, who believed the museum would be a valuable addition to the Lancaster and central Pennsylvania communities. Virginia and Thomas Phillips received Founders Medals from President Daniel R. Porterfield at the rededication ceremony.

The most striking physical difference in the renovated museum is the addition of the Nissley Gallery, which was made possible by Emily Baldwin Nissley and Thomas W. Nissley ’55, major supporters of the renovation project. The Nissley Gallery features the exhibition and interpretation of the College’s permanent collection of more than 8,000 objects, with an emphasis on Pennsylvania decorative art and material culture of the 18th and 19th centuries.

“This eclectic collection of objects provides research opportunities in almost every discipline taught at F&M, including history, art history, American studies, foreign languages, anthropology, sociology, chemistry and geology,” Reilly says. “All disciplines will help us with interpretive challenges posed by such a diverse collection.”

In her speech at the rededication of the museum on Oct. 21, Reilly challenged the idea that the museum is one of the “third spaces” on campus— a co-curricular entity that complements academic work. “I think the Phillips Museum will be an engine, and not a facilitator, for curricular and pedagogical innovation,” she said. “I view the museum as a laboratory, and a uniquely un-hierarchal and participatory one, at that.”


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