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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Renovations for new campus museum begin

The Barnes property is being renovated into the Frances M. Maguire Art Museum. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

Renovations are underway for next year’s opening of the Frances M. Maguire Art Museum, which will be housed in the former home of the Barnes Foundation on Lapsley Lane.

In 2018, the university signed a long-term lease with the Barnes Foundation to add the 12-acre Barnes property in Lower Merion to St. Joe’s campus. The property includes the newly named Barnes Arboretum at St. Joe’s. The Frances M. Maguire Art Museum will feature art owned by the university as well as serve as a classroom and event space. 

The biggest renovations include adding an accessibility ramp to the front of the building, which used to showcase Albert C. Barnes’ extensive art collection, and updating gallery spaces inside, according to Emily Hage, Ph.D., museum director and co-chair of the art and art history department. 

“We have made some galleries larger by knocking down walls between existing galleries and we’ve added some doorways so that people can explore the space and ways that they determine without having more choices for how they go through the building,” Hage said. “Those are some of the big moves.”

The renovations are planned to be finished in March. Staff will organize the collections and begin to move art into the museum later this spring and summer, Hage said. 

“We have over 2,500 works of art in our collection,” Hage said. “So, in order to install them in the galleries, we need to do conservation and framing, and move things in from storage and have bases made and catalog them. We are building a database. It’s absolutely necessary for getting everything into the museum.”

Carmen Croce, who serves as museum curator and director of Scholarly Press and University Press, has been overseeing St. Joe’s art collection for 40 years. Croce said he plans to show a range of different works, from Mexican art to art that tells the history of St. Joe’s.

“We’re going to have artwork from Old St. Joseph’s Church where St. Joseph’s College was founded from 1889 to 1927,” Croce said. “Then of course, we’ll have some things from the current university. It’ll be filled with lots of interesting objects, but two of my favorites will be two paintings that we know were in the original classrooms in 1861.”

Jeanne Bracy, associate director of the museum, art gallery coordinator and assistant to the chair of the fine arts and art department, said she is currently working on identifying contemporary artists to display and applying for grants for the museum.

“We’re working with our advisory council to identify artists that we can exhibit in the museum for the next several years,” Bracy said. “Hopefully we can come up with a plan for about three years or more.”

The advisory council was just named and includes Hage, Bracy and Croce alongside other St. Joe’s faculty, curators of other university art collections and one St. Joe’s art and art history major, Lauren Yingling ’25.

Hage said the museum also hopes to have a café and museum shop, pending approval. As with the Barnes Arboretum, the museum will be open free of charge to the campus community.

“It will be just a suggested donation, so [there will be] free admission,” Hage said. “And we would do our very best to make sure that people are engaged in the university community and beyond. We would make sure to let them know about events that are happening.”

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