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Famous Works of Art on Display at SBU Gallery

By Joyce Kryszak

St. Bonaventure, NY – Until recently, there was a well kept secret cloaked away in Olean. Priceless works of art. Hundreds of them. Everything from Rembrandt to Picasso - and just about anything you could imagine in between.

For decades they've been hidden away, or taken for granted out in plain view, at St. Bonaventure University. But there's a new vision at the university's Quick Arts Center. The museum's permanent collection was trotted out, dusted off, and is now displayed in all its glorious splendor.

Covering the walls, from practically the floor to ceiling, are works by dozens of familiar artists -- famous painters such as Rembrandt, Rubens and Millet. Their styles as easy to spot and as familiar as their names. But the setting is anything but familiar.

This magnificent art - spanning a period from the middle ages to the 20th century -- is not in some major gallery where you'd expect to find it. This is the impressive, but as yet, little known Quick Arts Center at St. Bonaventure University.

Ruta Marino is the senior curator for the museum. She takes us through the two levels of the sleek, contemporary Quick Art Center. The once stark white walls, many previously empty, are now splashed with vibrant color and chock full with art. And not just the exhibit rooms. Literally every nook and cranny -- including a former coat closet -- is filled with the university's permanent collection. So, where did it all come from? Marino says it was tucked safely, but invisibly away.

About one thousand pieces of art -- paintings, drawings, sculpture, porcelain and more - were moved out of the vault and into the light over the summer. The decision was due to the philosophy of new Arts Center Director, Joseph LoSchiavo. He wanted to put less emphasis on traveling exhibitions and spend more time and space strutting the museum's own stuff. It took several 60 hour weeks to complete the installation.

Still, more is planned. Restoration work is ongoing. A catalog is planned. And research continues to make sure paintings are properly labeled and identified. In particular, the attribution of museum's remaining Rembrandt painting is being verified. The museum's other Rembrandt was stolen back in the 1970s. That's one reason the collection was stowed away for years. But security is now tight. And the museum is dedicated to sharing the art with the community.

The permanent collection, as well as a host of other traveling and temporary installations are on view Tuedays through Sundays -- free to the public.

Click the "listen" icon above to hear Joyce Kryszak's full report.