“I think having major exhibitions in a museum is truly important, because it brings people who aren’t familiar coming to a particular show,” said Kennedy. “Then they see what is happening in the whole collection and begin to talk about it.”
Manet is sometimes referred to as “the Father of Impressionism.” Critics view him as the most stylish of the 19th-century French painters, often painting his family, friends, and literary, political, and artistic figures of his day in casual settings. That set him apart from other artists who painted portraits of famous figures in traditional poses.
Museum backers have stated a big exhibition is needed to not only raise the art museum’s profile nationally, but to keep it relevant with all the other entertainment options available to Northwest Ohio families these days.
“There’s a real competition for time and art museums have to redefine what they’re for in an age where people can say ‘Oh, I can look at a reproduction, so what’s the difference in coming to see actual works of art?’” said Kennedy. “When you can put together all the works of art of a great, great artist on a particular theme, then you allow people to engage.”
Manet: Portraying Life will be on display in Toledo from Oct. 7, 2012 - Jan. 1, 2013. The exhibition will then move to London’s Royal Academy of Arts through the winter. The two art museums are working together to bring 40 of Manet’s more famous portraits together from public and private collections in Europe, North America, and Japan.
“I think the museum will continue to engage in major exhibitions in the coming years and make ourselves more attractive to the region and nationally,” Kennedy said. “One of our core objectives in the coming years is to increase our own visibility, not only through the web, but to attract exhibitions to attract people to us.”
Museum officials believe an international exhibition from a renowned European painter also will bring an element of multiculturalism to the museum. Kennedy stated that can only encourage a greater understanding of the world around them for visitors.
“That’s the nature of America. America is the great immigrant country and people from everywhere,” said the museum director. “People will come to this exhibition from everywhere and lots and lots of backgrounds. But they’re all here and they want to know about the world. So we’ll engage in world culture and open people’s minds.”
The collection will involve logistical and financial challenges. Bringing the expensive artwork to Toledo will cost an estimated $50,000 apiece, including handlers to travel with the paintings contained in specially-constructed crates, as well as expensive insurance. BP America, which has a refinery in Oregon, is one of the exhibition’s major sponsors to help defray those costs.
Tickets to the exhibition will be $8 for adults and $5 for seniors and students. Children age five and under will be admitted free with a paid adult admission. Museum members will receive free unlimited admission to the exhibition.