A Miniature Milestone: The Marianne E. Gibson Portrait Miniature Gallery at 20

Attributed to William Lovett, Rebecca and Debra Hovey, about 1798, watercolor on ivory, Bequest of Mrs. Albert W. Rice, 1978.32

December 2, 2009 - April 8, 2010

The portrait miniature, one of the Worcester Art Museum's greatest strengths in American art, is paradoxically one of the smallest physical types of objects within its collections. Although not as large as easel paintings or sculptures, portrait miniatures do tell a “big” and important story in American art, one that has been a part of the Museum's history since 1901, when they were among the first artworks to enter the collections.

In 1989, the Museum acknowledged the importance of this collection by the creation of a gallery devoted to the changing installation of portrait miniatures. At that time, a catalogue of the collection was also published. The gallery and catalogue capped nearly a decade of sustained growth of the collection, marked by several major gifts of miniatures. Those twin accomplishments would not have been possible without the critical assistance of Marianne E. Gibson (1937-2000), a longtime Museum Trustee, patron, and docent, in whose honor the gallery was dedicated.

This installation celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Museum's miniature milestone by featuring a selection of miniatures spanning the history of the medium, from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries, by known and unknown artists, in a variety of styles, all brought together in the newly refreshed Marianne E. Gibson Gallery.

We invite you to rediscover the large impact of some of our small marvels as we look forward to the next twenty years of building this distinctive collection.