Grantee Spotlight: Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute Serves Utica Community
The Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute is a fine arts center dating back to 1919 that is in continuous motion nearly a century after its founding.
Exhibits in photography, Native American art, textiles painting and sculpture, plus a renowned permanent collection are infused with campus energy from the PrattMWP College of Art and Design, a lively performance calendar, and strong local roots.
Anna Tobin D’Ambrosio, president and CEO of MWPI, started at the institute as a curator of Decorative Arts in 1989. She’s seen it grow and in recent years said the organization has sharpened its focus on community outreach to Utica’s large refugee population.
Working with community centers, MPWI offers specially designed art programs for all ages, including Shared Traditions, which weaves art education with adult English-language learning.
At least 3,000 school children tour the museum each year, D’Ambrosio said, and about 150,000 on average cycle through the institute. It draws people from the Mohawk Valley and Oneonta to the south, Syracuse to the east, Albany and Western Massachusetts. But it has had visitors from 48 states.
The art school, affiliated with the Pratt Institute, has about 200 students who start the program in Utica and finish in Brooklyn. The museum’s full- and part-time staff numbers 125.
Fountain Elms, the historic home of the Munson-Williams-Proctor family, was the original house museum, exhibiting the Proctors' paintings, prints and decorative furnishings as the nucleus of a permanent collection. As the organization grew, the Philip Johnson-designed MPWI Museum of Art opened in 1960, flanked by an education center in 1995.
D’Ambrosio said NYSCA has been a major supporter of the institute, especially the museum and performances, including a long-running weekly film series. “There are so many ways NYSCA touches on every facet of our work,” said D’Ambrosio.
This spring and summer, visitors can experience Mysterious, Marvelous, Malevolent: The Art of Elihu Vedde, which showcases dark, mystical works by the American Symbolist and Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures from the Driehaus Collection, featuring spectacular glass, ceramic, metal, jewelry, mosaics, enamel, and paint spanning 60 years of the artist and designer's career.