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The Newark Museum – Where Art and Science Collide

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The Newark Museum - Where Art and Science Collide
Photo Credit: By Jim.henderson (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Although some of the museums over in the Big Apple may garner more recognition, the Newark Museum in Newark, NJ rises above the fray as a top-notch museum itself. Originally located on the Newark Public Library’s fourth floor, the Newark Museum has grown into the largest museum in the state. As a visitor, you will find 80 exhibits featuring American and international art as well as several exhibits dedicated to natural sciences.

The Newark Museum’s impressive collection of American art includes over 12,000 works. American artists on display include folk art masters Edward Hicks and Ammi Phillips as well as impressionists Childe Hassam, Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent, George Inness and Winslow Homer. Furthermore, the museum boasts works by American modernist artists including Edward Hopper, Max Weber, Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Robert Henri, John Sloan, Arthur Dove, Theodore Rozsak, Charles Sheeler and Alexander Calder. Works from Andy Warhol, George Segal, and Joseph Stella can also be found here. In addition, the museum’s American art collection also contains a large number of African American art pieces including works by Henry Ossawa Tanner, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence and Robert Thompson.

As impressive as the American art collection is, the international art collections at the Newark Museum may be even more so. With pieces ranging from ancient Egyptian art to art from the Peruvian Amazon region, these exhibits are simply incredible. However, the Tibetan art exhibit may be the museum’s crown jewel. The collection includes over 5,000 objects and is considered by many to be one of the best collections of Tibetan art in the world. The museum began to acquire many of these objects from Christian missionaries beginning in 1911. They are comprised of paintings, sculptures, fine textiles, ritual objects, and photographs among other pieces. The exhibit’s main feature is the Tibetan Buddhist Altar which was constructed by former artist-in-residence Phuntsok Dorje. A Tibetan himself, Dorje completed the brilliantly decorated altar in 1990, which was then consecrated by His Holiness, the 14th Dali Lama.

Since 1937, the Newark Museum has occupied the former house of the famous Newark brewery magnate John Ballantine. Built in 1885, this 27-room brick and limestone Victorian mansion originally included 8 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. The museum uses two floors of the house to interpret what you would find in the houses of the wealthy over 100 years ago. This “House & Home” exhibit includes restoration of eight period rooms, two hallways, and six thematic galleries. Three private family rooms have also been restored to their Victorian style – the master bedroom, the boudoir, and a child’s bedroom. The Ballantine House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 and is open as part of the museum during regular business hours.

Not to be outdone by the art exhibits, the science exhibits at the Newark Museum include over 83,000 objects. Here you’ll find the skeleton of a mastodon, exotic seashells, and rare minerals. The museum is also home to New Jersey’s first full-dome planetarium. The Alice and Leonard Dreyfuss Planetarium allows you to get an up close and personal look at our solar system, different constellations, and far off galaxies. The planetarium’s theater offers several different shows and exhibits throughout the week. Make sure to call ahead or seating as space is limited.

So, next time you are in the New York/New Jersey area, skip those overcrowded big city museums and venture out to the Newark Museum! You won’t regret it.

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