The National Museum of Wildlife Art is having a good year.
The museum staff is preparing for a 30th anniversary party, recently acquired new work thanks to the Blacktail Gala and was reaccredited by the American Alliance of Museums, a title only 3 percent of American museums can claim.
The Blacktail Gala was Feb. 11, and the event allowed the public to weigh in on what they want the museum to feature. Attendees chose Marc Petrovic’s Avian Pair, a glass sculpture; Juan Fontanive’s “Ornithology” and “Colorthing”; Shelley Reed’s “Stag (after Landseer)”; Zoe Keller’s graphite-and-paper works “Fire” and “Prey”; and William Sweetlove’s colorful Cloned Penguin with Petbottle.
“It’s a democratic process, and the community votes for what they want to see in our collection,” spokeswoman Jennifer Weydeveld said. “It is showing the museum growing in a really interesting way. … We started with really traditional wildlife paintings, and we’re moving into this really contemporary sphere.”
Sweetlove’s work in particular, which features brightly colored penguins carrying water bottles, is a nod to the fragile state of our water and who depends on it. It will be one of the museum’s more contemporary works.
Adam Harris, curator of art and research, agreed that the museum is collecting more contemporary art while still preserving the classics.
“I’d say within the last five to seven years we’ve had more of a push collecting more contemporary styles of works,” Harris said.
Harris regards the renewal of the museum’s accreditation as a high honor.
“It is just such a great marker of achievement,” Harris said. “It’s really a recognition that we’ve maintained this high level of standards since we were first accredited in 2002.”
The museum first earned accreditation in 2002, and renewed for the first time this year. To be accredited by the American Alliance of Museums an institution must continually meet its standards, said Janet Vaughan, the group’s vice president of membership and services.
“It puts [the museum] in a very exclusive category,” Vaughan said. “It gives that national recognition to your museum’s commitment to being excellent and adhering to the highest standards and sending a positive image to the community.”
Harris compared the recognition to a household product having a seal of approval by Good Housekeeping Magazine.
“It means that [visitors] are ensured a quality experience,” Harris said. “It’s this marker that this is a high-quality product and they’re sure to have a quality experience.”
The next major event at the museum is its 30th anniversary party, set to start at 6 p.m. May 16. See WildlifeArt.org for information.
Note: This article was edited to correct the date of the museum’s 30th anniversary party. — Eds.