Grand Opening

February 25, 2012 - February 25, 2012

After months of anticipation, the Rochester Museum of Fine Arts officially opened its doors Saturday evening.

Within the first half-hour of the grand opening, about 95 visitors were already browsing the various pieces of art on the first and second floors of the building, located at Merchants Plaza.

“It’s overwhelming to see so many people here,” said Matt Wyatt, museum president. “I feel like we’ve done what we set out to start.”

The second floor of the museum is dedicated to smaller works, and the first floor is set up for large works, such as oil paintings “Self Portrait as Queen” by Amber Lavalley and “Embrace” by Susan Schwake.

Laura Warecki, 25, of Waltham, Mass., was one of the many artists who donated to the Fine Arts Museum. About 50 pieces of art have been collected from all over the world, including from Germany, France, Canada, and the United States, and more works are one the way, said Wyatt.

Warecki, who contributed a mixed media work depicting a sailboat, titled “Life is But a Dream,” said the arts museum is a great way to create a permanent collection while giving exposure to the various artists.

“The diversity of the art is just great,” she said.

The museum contains many styles of art, including photography, traditional oil and water color paintings, contemporary and abstract art, as well as mixed media and collages.

Before the grand opening on Saturday, Wyatt and another staff member were seen mounting an extraordinary 40-pound mixed metal piece titled “Vanity,” made by assemblage artist James Chase.

The museum collection is also complete with a Picasso lithograph, as well as a photograph of John Lennon, taken in 1974 by the renowned rock n’ roll photographer Bob Gruen, which the museum acquired last minute, said Wyatt.

“It’s nice to have a photograph idol in our collection,” he said.

The Lilac City’s Fine Arts Museum is run by a five-member board of directors.

Mandie Haynes, the team’s executive assistant, said it’s great to have the museum finally open after months of anticipation.

“I love having people be as excited as we are,” she said.

Before the official opening of the museum, Haynes said she was anxious about getting enough advertising for people to come to the event, as well as making sure all the artwork was mounted on the walls in time for the opening.

“We are trying to change the perception of Rochester for the better,” said Wyatt. “From something not so great to something with a little more color, more culture.”

In addition to the permanent collection of art, the museum has a rotating gallery, which will be open on Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment.

The Museum of Fine Arts is located at Merchants Plaza, on 1 Old Dover Road.

LIZ MARKHLEVSKAYA lmark@fosters.com

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