Expansion adds decorative arts, ceramics, jewelry
After nearly three years of construction, Magazzino Italian Art in Philipstown on Thursday (Sept. 14) will open the doors of an expansion — all 13,000 square feet of it.
The new pavilion, just south of the 20,000-square-foot museum, is named for Robert Olnick, a developer, philanthropist and collector of post-war art who was the father of Nancy Olnick, who founded Magazzino in 2017 with her husband, Giorgio Spanu.
The building has a cafe and bookshop, a multipurpose room that can be used as an auditorium, and a wing devoted to decorative arts, ceramics and jewelry. It was designed by Alberto Campo Baeza and Miguel Quismondo, both Spaniards. The project also doubled the parking spaces at the museum, which is located on Route 9 near Route 301.
“The programming will include collaborations to highlight the diversity of Italian culture, not just in its visual identity, but also in the realms of music, film, research and performance,” says Vittorio Calabrese, Magazzino’s executive director.
“Magazzino is the perfect place to discuss multi-cross-country dialogues,” he adds. “It’s not really a colony of Italy, but we’re here, opening windows on Italian culture. With the new building, there is space and the opportunity to host and be more active members of the community.”
Calabrese says the idea of expansion wasn’t a thought, “even in our wildest dreams,” in the early days of the museum. “Imagine, we were originally open only by appointment and we showed only works from the collection,” he says. “We picked up so much momentum.”
With the new wing, “we want to attract people who have already come to Magazzino once to come back and see something new, along with the permanent collection,” he adds. “The reopening was especially important for us as we also presented an exhibition, Homemade, featuring work done during the pandemic by a group of Italian artists in New York City that we supported during the worst time.”
On Sept. 14, Magazzino will open the first three exhibits in its newly constructed Robert Olnick Pavilion.
Mario Schifano: The Rise of the ’60s, curated by Alberto Salvadori in partnership with the Archivio Mario Schifano in Rome, includes 70 works by the painter, who died in 1998. “Schifano was one of the champions of Italian Pop, and was very important in the Rome of that decade,” Vittorio Calabrese says. Using a variety of media, from monochromes to television, “he opened the window” on the city. It continues through Jan. 8.
Carlo Scarpa: Timeless Masterpieces, curated by Marino Barovier, features a selection of 56 Murano glassworks by Scarpa (1906-1978) from the Olnick Spanu Collection dating between 1926 and 1947. “This is the first time we are branching out into the decorative arts,” Calabrese says. “There was great relief felt when all the pieces arrived safely from Italy.” It continues through March 2025.
Ettore Spalleti: Parole de colore was conceived by Fondazione Ettore Spalletti, Benedetta Spalletti and Alberto Salvadori in collaboration with Alberto Campo Baeza, the pavilion architect. Calabrese describes it as a presentation of five paintings and sculptures by Spalletti (1940-2019) “designed to activate and frame the surrounding architecture and natural light” in the pavilion gallery. It continues through Jan. 8.
The popularity of events held at the nonprofit museum, such as concerts and film screenings, both indoors and outdoors, convinced the Magazzino team that they should host more of them and have an indoor space for times when the weather does not cooperate.
The expansion is “a big testament to the feedback from the community,” Calabrese says. “The message we get, eight years in now, is positive: They would like to see more programming. Nancy and Giorgio understand that people don’t want to come to a mausoleum but to an actual cultural center.”
The museum will continue to focus on the permanent collection of Arte Povera (“poor art”), an avant-garde movement that began in Italy in the late 1960s and early 1970s. “That defines Magazzino’s identity; that’s important to us,” Calabrese says. “The pavilion will have the temporary collections. For all of it, we are trying to make our docent program more robust, to transfer so much knowledge.”
After eight years as executive director at Magazzino, a position he says he accepted with little knowledge of the Hudson Valley beyond a few visits to Dia:Beacon, Calabrese is now settled — in fact, he recently became a U.S. citizen. “I want to have the right to vote,” he explains. “I want to be integrated into the community. I’m very happy about it.
“I come from a small town in Italy which reminds me of Cold Spring,” he says. “Cold Spring is a dimension and a community that is so active. Now I feel full part of it. It feels like home, but also is constantly changing.”
Magazzino Italian Art, located at 2700 Route 9, is open Thursday to Monday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 ($10 seniors, students, visitors with disabilities, $5 ages 5-10, free for members and residents of Cold Spring, Garrison and Nelsonville). See magazzino.art/visit. A short film about the installation of Homemade in 2020 can be viewed at magazzino.art/view/videos/homemade-video.