By CATHY McCABE
Riverbrink Art Museum in Queenston has something for everyone.
Debra Antoncic, associate curator of the museum, says, “We can provide an interesting experience for the budding artist or someone who’s interested in doing research or history.”
Riverbrink houses the art collection of Samuel Weir, a lawyer from London, Ont. Antoncic says the building was owned by Weir and it was meant to be a country home for him. Around the 1950s Weir “had the idea of focusing more on Canadian art and developing a survey of Canadian art here at this museum and opening it up as a public art museum and leaving a legacy.”
Antoncic says she is the one who chooses the exhibits that are displayed. The exhibit, “Sam Weir, The Consummate Collector” displays a variety of works from Weir’s collection.
“I wanted to showcase that it [Weir’s collection] was more than just paintings and sculptures.” It also includes decorative art, clocks and even Gregorian chants. The exhibit includes the sketch of Tom Thomson’s iconic painting of the Jack Pine. Antoncic says they have “a very nice collection” of paintings from the Group of Seven. “We want people to look more closely at them as individual artists.”
“In celebration of our 30th anniversary, we are focusing on collecting and we are able to feature loans from different local collectors.”
From Riverbrink’s collection, “The Battle of Lake Erie,” “Augustus John, Works on Paper” and “Nineteenth-Century Views of the War 1812-14” are currently being exhibited. On loan to the museum is “Norval Morrisseau: Journey with a Genius” from Richard Baker’s private collection, “A Private Collection of Inuit Sculpture” from Doreen Peever’s collection, and “Marine Art: Work, Play and Peril” from Cameron Ward’s collection.
The art museum also has a reference library and archives. Antoncic says they have about 4,000 books and about 500 are rare books or first editions.
“It’s not a lending library, but students or the general public can take the books off the shelves and sit here and look at them.” The library was begun by Weir and the museum has continued to add books over time.
Diane Pellicone says she has been working at Riverbrink as a curatorial intern on collection management since September. Pellicone, 26, says eventually they want to create a catalogue of their most important works.
She plans to do “more indepth research of a specific work of art and then how that work of art relates to the collection as a whole and maybe the community as well, or to Canada.”
“I think there are some real gems in the collection and I’m excited to contribute my own research to their archives.”
General admission to Riverbrink is $5, admission for students and seniors is $4, and children under the age of 12 enter for free.
Riverbrink will be participating in Doors Open Niagara. There will be free admission to Riverbrink and other historic sites on both sides of the border from Oct. 18 to 20. The museum is at 116 Queenston St. For more information go to www.doorsopenniagara.com or www.riverbrink.org.