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Welcome to the Godwin-Ternbach Museum online. Here you will find
easy access to information about the Museum like current, past and upcoming exhibitions; public programs, educational programs, and more. Soon we will launch an e-newsletter to keep our audiences and friends up-to-date on the Museum's activities and collections.
With each exhibition, we continue the tradition of honoring and interpreting these cultural treasures, given by one generation to another to learn, enlighten, and enjoy. All our exhibitions offer an array of lectures, gallery talks, films, family and children workshops, concerts, and tours, often collaborating with academic departments and centers, to tap the rich resources of Queens College. With each passing semester, we have grown and increased our outreach to the residents of Queens and the neighboring metropolitan areas. This past year we proudly became part of the new Kupferberg Center for the Arts, which has joined together all the arts on campus to enlarge our presence and enhance our offerings in collaborations of visual, performance, and dance and theater arts.
To the many members and friends who have supported and sustained us, we offer our deepest thanks. To the many who visit and participate in our exhibitions and programs, we thank you for your involvement and enthusiasm. For those who have not yet discovered the treasures hidden behind our walls, we invite you to explore and experience our world of art and culture. To everyone, we promise to continue to offer thought-provoking, diverse, and beautiful exhibitions. But to do so means we need you—as audience, members, donors, volunteers, interns—in whatever manner suits your interests and needs. Join us now and share the pleasure and satisfaction of helping us grow and flourish.
Director and Curator
The Godwin-Ternbach Museum is a professional not-for-profit art institution situated on the Flushing, Queens campus of Queens College, the City University of New York. A comprehensive permanent collection of 5,000 objects from all cultures, ranging from the ancient world to the present day, is used to organize exhibitions and programs as cultural and educational vehicles for students, faculty and public audiences alike. Presentations of contemporary and historical significance alternate between showcases of the collection and special exhibitions. Founded in 1981 by art historian Frances Godwin and noted art restorer Joseph Ternbach, the Museum's mission has grown with the changing times from a teaching museum for the benefit of art students to a public museum that reaches out beyond the college campus.
The Museum serves many constituencies: the Queens College community, the 1.9 million residents of the borough of Queens and an audience from nearby Long Island communities and metropolitan New York. The Museum's primary audience is a vital, cosmopolitan mix of African-American, Asian, Latino and European cultures living in the most diverse county in the nation. Ternbach and Godwin were part of this century's waves of immigrants from Western and Eastern Europe who sought a better life and political refuge. Their desire to provide a vital center to carry on the history and cultural traditions they brought with them continues as a living part of the Museum's vision, now modeled to the interests of the new communities it serves.
All visual art and cultural exhibitions and programs of the Museum are free and accessible to the public.
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In 1957 the Queens College Art Collection began as a teaching collection for students to handle and study works of art and “as a general cultural resource for the wider community of Queens and New York City.” At that date it consisted of approximately 350 objects and began to organize exhibitions with loans from important collections at the Brooklyn, Metropolitan, Harvard and University of Pennsylvania Art Museums to the Pierpont Morgan Library, Walters Art Gallery, and others, led by now legendary art historians like Edith Porada and Frances Godwin.
This tradition of organizing significant exhibitions continues into the present and the collection has grown ten-fold over the years. Today, even with the establishment of the Queens Museum of Art in Flushing Meadows, the Godwin-Ternbach Museum still fills a cultural void by providing a collection, exhibitions, and educational programs that highlight archeological and fine art objects that span the centuries—something no other institution in Queens can offer.
The Museum was founded in 1981, but the Queens College Art Collection reaches as far back as the 1930s, with the founding of the College in 1937 during the Great Depression. Among its most important donations was that of Audrey McMahon, co-founder of the WPA Federal Art Project and New York Regional Director. McMahon donated her personal collection of prints from the early Renaissance to modern times and it forms the core of the Museum's outstanding print collection, enriched by subsequent donations from alumni and friends.
The Museum has a distinguished history due to its founders. Ternbach, a noted art restorer who settled in Queens after escape from Nazi persecution in Vienna, attracted eminent donors like Norbert Schimmel, Jack and Belle Linsky, and Charles B. Rogers, who were patrons of the Metropolitan Museum, National Gallery of Art, and Smithsonian Institution; Leon Pomerance, Ernest Erickson and Syril and Walter Frank of the Archeological Institute of America; Hans Arnhold, founder of the American Academy in Berlin; and Elie Borowski, founder of the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem, to name only a few.
Valuable donations of artworks have come from many quarters. J.B. Neumann, an eminent art dealer, critic, author, publisher, and advisor to Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Director of The Museum of Modern Art, gave the museum many fine artworks. An emigré from Germany in 1923, Neumann opened the New Art Circle gallery, exhibiting artists Wassily Kandinsky, Max Beckmann, Paul Klee, and Georges Rouault, among others.
In 1999, the New Mexico-based Lannan Foundation gave the Museum a large group of Spanish and Latin American works by notable artists from Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, and many regions of Spain, highlighted in our 2004 Recent Acquisitions exhibition.
Other donations, largely from alumni and their associates often have equally compelling histories, too numerous to discuss in this brief history. But their gifts are being reconsidered and brought back into the light, along with new discoveries, as we undertake a new generation of research and exhibition.
Thanks to the generosity of so many donors of artworks and funds, the Godwin-Ternbach Museum has become an outstanding small institution, with a rich past and substantial collections to build upon.
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