By Kristin Boza
After a two-year hiatus, the Vanderpoel Art Association Art Museum is prepared to open with new exhibits and children’s classes, as well as its outstanding collection of works by American artists. Located on the second floor of the Ridge Park Fieldhouse, 9625 S. Longwood Dr., the esteemed art gallery is gearing up for visitors old and new after Labor Day.
For the Beverly Art Walk on Sat., Sept. 17, the museum will host ceramic artist Robin Powers from 12 to 3:30 p.m. The gallery will also be on the list of key places to visit during Open House Chicago on Oct. 15 and 16.
The museum is open Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1 to 4 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Appointments on other days can be accommodated. Touring the gallery is always free to the public.
The Vanderpoel Art Association was founded in 1913 by friends of John H. Vanderpoel, a celebrated artist and instructor at the Art Institute of Chicago who lived in North Beverly. The collection was started with one painting by Vanderpoel, and now has more than 500 pieces of art displayed in the gallery or being stored. Many of the works are by noted artists including Vanderpoel, Maxfield Parrish, and Mary Cassatt. Expect to spend at least 45 minutes to get a good look at all of the artwork.
Irene Testa, director of the Vanderpoel Art Museum, said that the gallery was closed for repainting, which was a massive undertaking since all the art had to be removed from the space. Then, Covid hit, extending the time the gallery was closed.
“People are so thrilled and amazed when they discover the gallery,” Testa said. “We have a very important American art collection and we’re glad to be a part of that.”
The grand re-opening exhibit is “Women Artists in the Vanderpoel Collection,” a special exhibit highlighting some rarely-seen works in the Vanderpoel collection. “This exhibit features Matilda Vanderpoel, who was John’s sister. She started the children’s art classes at the Art Institute of Chicago and taught there for many years. She was just as accomplished as her brother, but women weren’t taken as seriously as men in those days. We think it’s about time now that we highlight her achievements,” Testa said.
Along with the reopening is the return of children’s art classes in the gallery space. Since the 1940s, the Vanderpoel gallery has hosted these classes, and Testa is very proud of that tradition. Linda Vorderer, a Vanderpoel Museum board member, will teach and classes begin on Sept. 24. More information, including registration, can be found at VanderpoelArtMuseum.org/classes.
“It’s so exciting that we are getting back to our programming. We’ve waited a long time and can’t wait to see people enjoying the museum once again,” Testa said.