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New Wings for Hagerstown

Baltimore Sun article detailing the Museum's 1949 additions.  Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


New Wings for Hagerstown

Washington County Museum of Fine Arts as it appears with two new wings, the gift of Mrs. William H. Singer


“You shall each have a cake of sesame— and ten pound."
Thus Lucian in "The- Fisherman." And thus, in effect, Mrs. William H. Singer, now living in Olden, Norway, to the people of her native Washington county some twenty years ago.
Mrs. Singer has kept her promise. In 1931 they got their sesame, opening wide the gates of wonder, in the form of a museum of fine arts, built in the city park at Hagerstown and overlooking a lovely lake where white swans swim with curved necks and lifted wings, and wild fowl live and rear their young in peace and security.

Making Gifts Of Art Objects
Now Mrs. Singer has added the "ten pound" by erecting two wings to the original structure as a memorial to her husband, who died in 1943 and who was internationally known as a landscape painter.
She also is enlarging the museum's contents by gifts of sculpture, paintings, antique furniture, Oriental rugs, etc. This winter, following a memorial exhibition in Holland, she also will present the museum with the largest collection of Singer landscapes in the world.
Like the initial edifice, the new wings were designed by Col. William E. Shepherd, of Washington. Built of rose-red brick, with Indiana limestone coping and quoins of the same material at the corners, they virtually double the size of the building.

Winged Figures Flank Doorway
The south wing is dominated by the Singer memorial room. Raised by three steps of softly colored rose-beige Tennessee marble above the floor level of the rest of the building, this room is smoothly lined with beautifully grained white oak which had been treated by a process known as pickling.
Guarding the wide doorway are two winged figures, carved, by Ernst van Wynants in stone. In their original position they flanked the fireplace in the reception room at the Singers' home in the Netherlands.
Some of Mr. Singer's paintings, when they arrive, will be hung in the memorial room, which also will contain some of the furnishings that, amazingly, survived the German occupation of his home in Holland. In the anteroom china, ceramics and small works of art will be displayed in recessed cabinets which line the walls.
The north wing has been designed primarily as a music room and auditorium. Mrs. Singer, herself a musician, is presenting the museum with a concert grand piano for its stage.

Chairs That Will Harmonize
Because this room also will be used as a picture gallery, the usual type of stationary seating will be replaced by movable chairs, comfortably upholstered in green to harmonize with the curtains on the stage.
Dressing rooms and a kitchenette are included in this wing, together with a service entrance and elevator to the basement. Pictures and supplies can now be brought into the building and carried directly to the basement to be unpacked and prepared for display, or to be stored.

Studio For Art Classes Below
Under the memorial room there is a large studio for art classes conducted by Thomas Danaher, a resident of Hagerstown.
Art treasures at the museum include, in addition to the collection presented by Mrs. Singer, numerous gifts from other sources. One of these is a lovely statue of Diana by Anna Hyatt Huntington, presented by the sculptor on the tenth anniversary of the opening of the museum and placed in the semicircular porch overlooking the lake. The most valuable single object in the museum is Rodin's head of one of the burghers of Calais. This is insured, according to Dr. J. Richard Craft, the director, for $5,000.

Close Co-Operation With Schools
In addition to the art classes, which both adults and children enthusiastically attend, museum activities under Dr. Craft's supervision include story hours for children and an integrated program in co-operation with schools.
Lectures on art are given frequently during the year, together with periodic loan exhibits. One of the most popular annual events is an exhibition of the work of artists living and working in the Cumberland Valley. The enlarged museum will be formally opened November 15. Mrs. Singer is expected to come from Norway to Hagerstown especially for this occasion.
Residents of Hagerstown enjoy this little art gallery in the same way Europeans find institutions of this sort a necessity in their lives. They drop in to see a new acquisition, or to spend some spare moments in association with a favorite painting or piece of sculpture. Youngsters are being reared in an atmosphere where art is becoming a natural part of their lives and not something grafted on. Few communities of Hagerstown’s size have such an asset.

Sunpapers photo—Dohm.
Thomas Danaher and his pupil, Miss Betty Ross, at a museum art class



Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

After the death of her husband William H. Singer, Jr., Anna Brugh Singer proposed two additional wings to the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. One wing was to serve as a memorial to her late husband, while the other was designated for musical concerts.

Collection Location:
Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

Baltimore Sun

Washington County Museum of Fine Arts (Md.), Anniversaries, etc.; Washington County Museum of Fine Arts (Md.), History; Art museums, Maryland, Washington County, History; Hagerstown (Md.), history.

Washington County (Md.), 1928-2006

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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