Encounters: Space, Time and Life

The completion in 2010 of the extensive renovation and expansion of the Museo de Arte de Ponce offers the opportunity both to celebrate the homecoming of the museum’s collection and to see it with fresh eyes. For the inaugural exhibition, the Museo de Arte de Ponce’s curatorial and education staff chose to focus on the permanent collection and to emphasize its variety and strengths. Rather than arranging the collection geographically, chronologically, or by medium, we opted to present it thematically. In that way we can suggest new relationships, stimulate conversations, and generate bridges of understanding. Large overview galleries flanked by intimate focus galleries allowed us to present constellations of related subjects.

The Museo de Arte de Ponce reopened with Encounters: Space, Time, and Experience, an exhibition designed to emphasize the collection’s unique diversity. The works of art on view span three thousand years and come from Europe, the Americas, and Africa. “Between Heaven and Earth”, in the east wing of the first floor of the Edward Durell Stone-designed building, exhibited objects representing a variety of belief systems; these beliefs are portrayed in biblical subjects, sacred and secular stories of love and loss, divine beings, and devotional and ritual objects. “Conversations with Nature,” in the west wing, presents works inspired by the natural world, impressions of light and atmosphere, and the intersection of landscape and culture.

The second floor of the museum featured European painting and sculpture from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries. The works were organized around such themes as landscape, portraiture, mythology, concepts of beauty, and the transitory nature of life. Each gallery presented a “counterpoint” —a work of art made by an artist from another culture and time period— that has been chosen to inspire comparisons and connections across the ages and enhance understanding of the diverse ways’ artists see the world. A guide offered a sampling of the art on view and illustrated the engaging dialogues we have found between works in the collection.