Webster Museum reopens this weekend with exhibit on Webster artist Ward Mann

18 Aug

If you think you know the Webster Museum, read on, because you haven’t seen the new and IMPROVED Webster Museum.

This Saturday Aug. 21, the museum is opening its doors to the public again after a long hiatus thanks to the pandemic. And boy, is it looking spiffy, both inside and out.

The first things that will greet visitors on Saturday are two gorgeous gardens that flank the front door. Volunteers worked for weeks weeding the overgrown and unsightly gardens, prepping the beds, then choosing and planting a beautiful variety of shrubs, annuals and perennials in anticipation of this week’s grand opening.

The spiffiness continues inside, where display cases have been refurbished, walls have been painted, and exhibit spaces have been re-imagined. Many of the tried-and-true exhibits, especially those representing Webster’s basket-making and apple industries, have remained pretty much the same. But several other exhibits have been updated or changed out, and new ones are being planned highlighting Webster’s bakeries, dairies and gas stations.

Webster Museum president Tom Pellett reports there have also been other, less evident changes. “The museum is also “revamping our attack … to be more educational,” he said.

“We (older folks) are getting to be the only people who actually went into the old stores in the exhibits,” he explained. “There are a lot of people who arrived late, like in the 70s, that have no idea what some of the older areas were like here.” Plans include adding audio-visual components to help support that mission.

The museum kicked off its grand re-opening with a special members-only event last Sunday introducing the current exhibit, honoring the life and works of Webster artist Ward Mann. In a half-hour presentation, Ward’s son Craig — who flew up from North Carolina — and former art teacher Dick Kane detailed Mann’s early life, career as a Xerox engineer, and how he ultimately discovered his true passion: art.

Mann was a talented, versatile and well-known artist who lived and worked and painted in Webster from 1961-2005 and also had a studio in the artist colony at Rocky Neck, Massachusettes.

A team of 20 volunteers worked for months conducting research, coordinating with the Mann family, gathering the materials and compiling the exhibit. The result is an impressive presentation which includes 21 original Ward Mann canvases displayed throughout the museum, original sketchbooks, biographical information and a slideshow of many more pieces from Mann’s collection. The pieces on display represent all of Mann’s chosen media: sketches, watercolor, oil and pallet knife.

At the event, Pellett noted that it’s been 17 months since “the door slammed shut” back in March 2020. It was an unfortunate situation, but he added that being closed for so long “allowed us to do some things not normally done because of visitors.” Still, he added, “It’s so good to be back.”

Ironically, when the museum closed those many months ago, staffers were readying a brand new exhibit which would have introduced the community to a famous and highly respected local artist: Ward Mann.

“The public never saw it,” Pellett said. The downtime, however, clearly helped museum staff members build an even more in-depth and meaningful exhibit.

The Webster Museum will welcome the public back on Saturday, Aug. 21 from 2 to 4:30 p.m., then again on Saturday Aug. 28. Regular museum hours will resume in September, when the museum will be open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 2 to 4:30 p.m. The Ward Mann exhibit will be here for just six weeks, so don’t miss it.

The Webster Museum is located at 18 Lapham Park in the Village of Webster. Admission is free, but donations are always welcome.

Below are two of the paintings in the Ward Mann exhibit, and a slideshow of some of the other museum exhibits and gardens.

These two paintings are on display along with 19 other original works, memorabilia and hundreds of slide-show images of works not on display. Ward himself donated MINUTEMAN to the Webster Museum in 1977. Ward’s sons Craig and Kim donated ROCHESTER JUNCTION at the installation of the exhibit.

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One Response to “Webster Museum reopens this weekend with exhibit on Webster artist Ward Mann”

  1. Kathy Taddeo August 18, 2021 at 6:50 am #

    Thank you, Missy. You captured the spirit of the exhibit, event and the museum itself beautifully!


    Sent from my iPhone


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