Director Matthias Waschek's KNIGHTS! Exhibition Opening Speech
Today we are meeting to celebrate much more than just the opening of an exhibition as part of a robust exhibition program. Knights! is a milestone in so many ways.
1st we celebrate nothing less than the salvation of the Higgins Armory collection for Worcester! I would like to thank both boards, notably Jim Donnelly for the Higgins and Cliff Schorer our previous president, as well as Catherine Colinvaux, our current president, for their vision and tenacity to pull this off in such a short amount of time.
2nd if the Guinness Book of World Records had a category for a swift institutional turn around, the staff of the Higgins and that of the Worcester Art Museum would have set something like a world record — where the former were preparing in no time for the transfer of assets, the latter were processing it in lightning speed: the Higgins closing was announced a year ago and we have now the entire collection under our roof! Suzanne Maas’ leadership and the commitment of the Higgins staff needs to be mentioned here, as does that of my entire staff from Division Heads on down the incredibly hardworking line—We could not have done it without you...I cannot do it without you.
3rd another Guinness record: where other institutions would have “mothballed” the collection for 10 years before opening a gallery, we are opening an exhibition barely four months after the closing of the Higgins — we had a lead time of one year to conceive and implement the exhibition, where it normally takes at least two, if not three years. On top of that, this exhibition is innovating the presentation of arms and armor. I would like to mention particularly Patrick Brown and his crew for their work against the clock, as well as the entirety of Audience Engagement.
We are not done yet: 4th at the same time as we are integrating the Higgins collection and working on the exhibition, the Worcester Art Museum goes through radical change. Thanks to the Higgins integration, in in some ways in spite of the enormous stress that that integration puts on us, we are on the fast track of becoming a visitor centric institution, which requires a change in our processes, in our way of thinking and acting. When you enter the Knights! exhibition, you will understand what I mean and hopefully enjoy it.
That we are so fast in responding to the Higgins opportunities is last but not least due and thanks to the jumpstart support by our local funders, with many thanks to those leading the pack and setting the bar high — the Manton Foundation, the Stoddard Charitable Trust, the George I Alden Trust, the George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundation, the Fletcher Foundation and the Fred Harris Daniels Foundation, Inc, with personal thanks to our partners in those committments, among them Warner Fletcher, Mark Fuller and Meredith Wesby. And others who hae answered the call — the Rockwell Foundation, the Hoche- Schofield Foundation and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, represented this evening by Ira Lapidus, president of the MCC board.
This is one of many steps to integrate the Higgins, to strengthen the Worcester Art Museum and to bring the perception of Worcester in the outside world up to speed. Worcester has a rich and diverse cultural live, it is a wonderful place to work and to live! - We are now working on reaching the next milestones of the Higgins integration and need your support as individual sponsors.
If you aren’t already, I urge you to become members, if you are a member, go to the next level and become Salisbury members and Business Partners. The local foundation cannot carry the burden alone. To reach funding from outside Worcester, we have to show the world that our community is committed to WAM and willing to invest boldly in its future.
The future of Worcester as a place to be and enjoy is as much in your hands as it is in ours.