GLENS FALLS — As The Hyde Collection Art Museum marks its 50th year, a new director with experience in building and renovating museums will be leading the Glens Falls institution into a future that promises major changes in its campus.
Charles A. Guerin, a Chicago native whose career as an artist, curator and museum director began in the late 1970s, started his new job at The Hyde on March 4 after serving 12 years as executive director of the University of Arizona Museum of Art in Tucson, Arizona, and a professor in the university’s art department. He is also the founder of the Archive of Visual Arts in Tucson.
Guerin was hired following a seven-month national search, succeeding David F. Setford, who left The Hyde in August after four years on the job.
“It’s the beginning of a very important time,” Guerin said last week during a public “meet-and-greet” event that began in the auditorium and continued upstairs in the Charles R. Wood Gallery, where the current exhibit is “50 at 50: Five Decades of Collecting at The Hyde.”
In the auditorium, Guerin introduced himself using a PowerPoint presentation, showing images of the museums where he has worked and highlights from their collections.
Before Arizona, Guerin lived for 14 years in Wyoming. He was executive director of the University of Wyoming Art Museum in Laramie as it planned and constructed a new building designed by Antoine Predock, the architect who designed the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs. Guerin was involved in the selection of Predock, and the design for the Wyoming museum was an Architecture magazine cover story.
In its new master plan, The Hyde envisions a museum complex that will join the three original historic houses of the Pruyn sisters, including founder Charlotte Pruyn Hyde, and restyle its seven acres.
Guerin said the Hyde's campus and collection “connects with my background at other institutions,” including the University of Arizona, which has a notable collection of Renaissance and Baroque art.
“I’m used to working with great old masterworks of art,” he said. “It’s wonderful to come to a museum with a Rembrandt painting.”
Guerin’s own work as a printmaker and painter has appeared in more than 100 exhibits and is in many public and private collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois State Museum and Lloyds of London.
“My work comes out of the photo-realism tradition,” he said. “In a good year, I take 1,000 or more photographs.”
He has master’s degrees in printmaking and art history, a master’s degree in painting and a bachelor's degree in printmaking, all from Northern Illinois University.
When asked about this summer’s major Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit, Guerin said visitors “will be stunned by the beauty of it” and invited chief curator Erin B. Coe to step up to the podium.
“It’s a historic exhibition for the Hyde,” said Coe, “and the first exhibit to focus on Lake George and O'Keeffe specifically.”
“Modern Nature: O'Keeffe and Lake George,” which opens June 15, features 58 paintings with themes that relate to Lake George. After it closes on Sept. 15, the show will travel nationally, in another first for the Hyde.
Climate and cravats
When the audience was invited to ask questions, Guerin was quizzed about his impressions of weather in the North Country and his reputation for wearing bright, interesting neckties.
He said that winter in Glens Falls would be tame compared to Wyoming. “Winter there is dangerous. They close the highways.”
As for his neckwear?
“I don’t like wearing dull ties. I shop at museum stores.”
For more information about Charles Guerin, visit www.charlesaguerin.com.