Fitchburg Art Museum embraces new exhibits, new attitude

By Corey Olivier

The Fitchburg Art Museum is currently preparing for the opening of its newest exhibit, “LitGraphic: The World of the Graphic Novel,” a collection of over 200 pieces that explores the themes, artwork, and creative processes behind the rapidly growing genre of the graphic novel.

“It’s exciting. We’re the only museum in New England who has this exhibit,” said Jerry Beck, director of marketing and community engagement for the museum.

The collection includes books, paintings, storyboards, drawings, and photographs from notable artists such as Marc Hempel, Lynd Ward, Peter Kuper, and Robert Crumb, among others. There will also be a special documentary film that gives insight into the lives of the artists behind the creations, as well as the explosive new subculture that supports them.

“People never used to take graphic novels seriously,” Beck said. “They used to think they were like comic books or stick figures. Now they’re being seen as serious works of art and literature.”

The opening reception will be on Sunday, Sept. 25 from 1 to 3 p.m. and will feature live music from Hudlin, an area rock band. As always, the entirety of the Fitchburg community is invited, and admission to the gallery is free for Fitchburg State University students.

The exhibit is part of the museum’s new attitude toward marketing and community involvement. “We are a world-class, family-friendly museum with a permanent collection spanning 5,000 years, yet we remain very much a hidden treasure,” said Peter Timms, director of the Fitchburg Art Museum, in an interview with the Fitchburg Sentinel. “Working closely with the city of Fitchburg, area businesses and other regional and community stakeholders, we have bold plans to engage the public in ways that are as distinctive as the museum itself.”

The “LitGraphic” exhibit is accompanied by a collection of aerial photographs by William Garnett, a photographer who documented the American countryside from his Cessna airplane. The collection spans half a century and includes images from every corner of the nation. “They’re really spectacular images. Anyone who enjoys photography needs to see these photos,” said Beck.

The “LitGraphic” exhibit was organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum and will remain on view at the Fitchburg Art Museum from Sept. 25 until Jan. 1.

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