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Montclair Art Museum Hosts Thousands at Centennial Celebration

Party marks museum opening 100 years to the day.

More than 2,000 supporters attended MAM's centennial celebration. Photo credit: Teresa Akersten
More than 2,000 supporters attended MAM's centennial celebration. Photo credit: Teresa Akersten

More than 2,000 supporters of the Montclair Art Museum took part in a centennial celebration Wednesday night which included the unveiling of a permanent installation, live music, a documentary film, and a giant cake.

The birthday bash took place 100 years to the day that the museum building opened with a reception for members of the Montclair Art Association and the painters and sculptors exhibiting.

A century later, the museum remains an integral part of the community, said Lora Urbanelli, MAM’s ninth director, to a room full of multiple generations of museum supporters — including children wearing birthday hats.

Although MAM’s collections remain focused on American and Native American art, as the founders intended, Urbanelli said the museum embraces all forms of art.

To prove her point, the halls and galleries Wednesday night featured the centennial exhibition, 100 Works for 100 Years, as well as musicians, a choir, poets and a film. Even the culinary arts were represented with an edible replica of the Montclair Art Museum created by New Jersey’s own Buddy Valastro, better known as The Cake Boss.

“When I walk around this museum, I get so inspired,” Valastro told those assembled in Leir Hall. “My own creativity goes wild.”

The singing of “Happy Birthday” was led by a member of the Newark Boys Choir, which later gave a 10-minute performance including “This Little Light of Mine” and “We Are the World.”

The night also included screenings of a documentary on the museum created for the occasion by Montclair residents Mark Urman (executive producer) and Dawn Porter (director).

Deejays Rita Houston and Russ Borris from radio station WFUV played music spanning from 1914 to the present, and “Newsies” distributed copies of “The Centennial Times.”

Visitors to the museum will be greeted for years to come with a new site-specific permanent work entitled “Yellow”, which was unveiled during the party. Artist Spencer Finch created the lighted panels which in the words of Urbanelli, speak to the past and future of the institution. 

The celebration will continue throughout the winter and spring. The exhibition Robert Smithson’s New Jersey opens on Feb. 23, and the MAM Centennial Ball is planned for April 26.

Support the Arts in Montclair

Montclair has been nominated in four categories in the 6th Annual JerseyArts.com People's Choice Awards:

Show your support for Montclair, by casting your vote here

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