With slices of cake and sparkling cider in hand, about 200 people visited the Triton Museum of Art on April 11 for a celebration that remembered the past while looking into the future of the museum.
As Many Worlds Ensemble performed, visitors enjoyed the music, participated in art activities, admired the community quilt made up of squares created during the museum’s last Family Art Day, or wrote down and hung a personal statement of what the Triton means to them.
In addition, Mayor Jamie Matthews arrived, bringing with him a proclamation from the city and saying a few words about how important the arts are in this community.
“He spoke about how the arts were important,” said Executive Director Jill Meyers, “because the creativity starts with the artists and the engineers implement it … We’re just so grateful to have that support and we don’t think many other communities have. We just can’t say enough about how wonderful the Mayor and City Council are. It’s great.”
The event also gave the Triton the opportunity to kick off its current show, Triton at 50, which chronicles the museum’s past through articles and selections from its permanent gallery.
“There are many wonderful things in our collection that were collected a long time ago and maybe don’t fit the mission today, so this exhibition provides a wonderful opportunity to show works of art that we may not otherwise show, so we’re thrilled to be able to do this show,” said Meyers.
From Native American baskets from the Austen D, Warburton Collection, to a painting by Joseph William Mallord Turner, many of the items in display are gems the museum had locked in its art vault, but never had the opportunity to show.
“I didn’t even know we had [the Turner] piece but it was donated back when the museum first moved to Santa Clara by Cornel Wilde, who was a big Hollywood actor in his day, and Bob Morgan managed to get him to bring up his collection,” said Chief Curator Preston Metcalf. “So we have this nice, little watercolor that we didn’t even know existed.”
Metcalf continued, “Bob Morgan’s original intention was that this would grow to be a world-focused museum. He envisioned it similar to the DeYoung Museum. He knew it would have to grow and it would start small, but then it became very obvious right away that the interest was in showcasing art of the region. It’s interested because the San Jose Museum of Art started out by a group of artists who didn’t want a world collection. They wanted the local artists and now the roles have switched. San Jose is showing works and bringing in works that have more of an international appeal while we’ve become the museum of the community. It’s a positive for both. It’s not a negative for either one. It’s just interesting how the roles have changed throughout the 50–year history.”
Triton at 50 runs through May 3, and will be on display when the museum holds its annual gala on May 2 from 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets to the Golden Gala are $160 and can be purchased through www.tritonmuseum.org. Admission to see Triton at 50 during the museum’s regular hours is free. The Triton is at 1505 Warburton Ave. in Santa Clara.