Groundbreaking for National Sporting Art Museum

The National Sporting Art Museum will open in 2011 in Middleburg, Va.
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The National Sporting Art Museum will open in 2011 in Middleburg, Va.

Middleburg, Va., September 30, 2009 -- On September 19, the National Sporting Library hosted a ceremony and reception to mark the groundbreaking of the National Sporting Art Museum (NSAM).

"It's a very important milestone in the history and evolution of the National Sporting Library," said Manuel H. Johnson, Chairman of the Board. When the renovated museum holds the grand opening of its inaugural exhibit in 2011, 11 galleries will feature exhibitions of the best of American and European sporting art. NSAM and the National Sporting Library will serve as a unified campus for the study and enjoyment of sporting art and literature, under the umbrella of the National Center for Sporting Art and Literature.

Almost 100 people attended the afternoon reception at the National Sporting Library including seven members of the NSL's Board of Directors who broke ground for the new museum on the front lawn of the Vine Hill mansion.

Architect Hardee Johnston presented the architectural renderings and floor plans of the 13,000 square ft. museum. Johnston explained that the new brick Federal revival addition will be in keeping with the historic house built in 1804. Johnston assured those in attendance that, "Our response to the program has been sensitive not only to this early 19th-century building but also to the setting, which is fittingly at the edge of the countryside where it meets the town."

The addition on the west side of Vine Hill will feature a raised, colonnaded portico that complements the existing one. A copper-clad and glass section between will serve as a visual break between the old and new structures. The entrance to the new building will open onto a large gallery with another spacious gallery on the second floor. The increased gallery space will allow NSAM to hold up to four exhibitions at one time, said Johnston. The basement level will house the working spaces of the museum.

Ron Steele, NSAM's Project Manager, spoke about the construction phases. Prior to the groundbreaking, a landscaping team relocated the trees from the Library's formal boxwood garden, and they will be replanted on the museum's west side once all construction is complete.

Steele explained that contractors would strip the interior walls of the Vine Hill mansion down to the brick to install a museum-quality HVAC system. All architectural finishes from Vine Hill will be salvaged and later reinstalled in the galleries. Once the foundations are complete, the contractor will raise the new building by early spring of 2010.

The contractor for this $4.4- million project, Grunley Construction of Rockville, Md., has worked on museums and historic sites in the greater Washington area, including the Hillwood Museum and Gardens, the Smithsonian, the U.S. Capitol, and the Library of Congress.

F. Turner Reuter, Jr.--a member of the NSL's Board of Directors and the Chair of the Exhibit and Collections Committee-- concluded the afternoon's remarks by outlining the exhibition, "Afield in America: Four Hundred Years of Animal and Sporting Art, 1585-1985." "Over 100 outstanding examples of every category of the genre will be selected to show how American animal and sporting artists have developed a unique national style, reflective of the diversity of our people, the rich variety of our wildlife, and the breadth of the natural landscape," said Reuter.

Works by such artists as Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, Edward Troye, William Dunton, and Gustave Muss-Arnolt from private collectors, lending museums, and NSAM's permanent collection will provide visitors with an overview of sporting art in America and will be accompanied by an exhibition catalogue.

The National Sporting Library is a state-of-the-art, non-lending research facility dedicated to the world of horse sports, shooting, and fishing. It is open to the public and admission is free. Its 17,000-book collection covers a wide range of horse and field sports, including foxhunting, Thoroughbred racing, dressage, eventing, steeplechasing, polo, coaching, shooting, and angling. Over 4,000 rare books from the sixteenth century onwards are housed in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room. In addition to books, the Library owns important manuscript, archives, and periodicals relating to field sports, and also features an audiovisual center that stores non-print materials, including films, videos, and DVDs. The John H. Daniels Fellowship program supports the research of visiting scholars. The Library hosts temporary art exhibitions and holds many fine works of sporting art, including paintings, sculpture, works-on-paper, and sporting artifacts in its permanent collection. The National Sporting Art Museum will open in 2011 next door to the Library in the historic Vine Hill mansion.