Seven months after the Noyes Museum of Art closed its main location in Galloway Township, N.J., the museum has a new owner and game plan.
Stockton University announced Monday that it now owns the museum, which will be the Noyes Museum of Art of Stockton University.
The university has had a close relationship with the museum since a 2010 agreement to lease space and work together. Monday's announcement brings the museum's assets, including about $1.7 million and its artwork, to the university.
"This merger provides a stable financial and cultural home for the museum," said Stockton assistant provost Michelle McDonald, "but it also creates an unparalleled asset for arts education for a university in the South Jersey region."
Opened in 1983 by Smithville Inn restaurateur Fred Noyes in tribute to his wife, Ethel, the Noyes Museum called home a cedar-shingled building in Galloway that included several galleries.
When the museum partnered with Stockton, the school agreed to pay $500,000 the first year and then $100,000 each year thereafter for 10 years, with an eye toward the university's eventually taking over.
"We're a liberal arts and sciences university. We promote the arts," said Harvey Kesselman, Stockton president.
The partnership led to the creation of three satellite locations: the Arts Garage and Sculpture Walk in Atlantic City, the Noyes Museum Gallery in Kramer Hall at Stockton's Hammonton site, and a showcase at the Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club in Galloway.
Those new spaces made the museum more accessible to new audiences, said Michael Cagno, the museum's executive director.
"Our diversity of visitors has increased tenfold, and not just in ethnic background but social backgrounds, economic backgrounds, and also age background," he said, specifically citing the Hammonton and Atlantic City locations. "Stockton prides itself on inclusion and diversity, and that's an attribute that we're tagging right along with."
In January, the museum closed its longtime home in Galloway, saying the space would be too costly to repair and maintain. Its operations continued at the satellite locations, but it had no home.
"We felt that it would have cost too much to invest in that building to keep it going," Kesselman said.
With the museum merging into Stockton, the university will expand its Kramer Hall space and look to find a new permanent home for the institution.
"Because of our challenges, we look at it as opportunities not to confine the museum between a set of walls," Cagno said.
Cagno and university administrators, including Kesselman, described the museum as a concept broader than its physical collection. Part of that concept will include further opportunities for students and faculty, McDonald said.
A Noyes framing shop in Hammonton, for example, will start taking interns to learn those skills. Faculty have not only used the art in classes, some have designed entire courses around the collections.
Faculty and students also can work more closely with the museum on planning special exhibitions.
"There were some real opportunities for applied learning," McDonald said.
The shuttered museum facility in the Oceanville section remains the property of the Noyes Foundation, a separate entity. The foundation plans to sell the property.
The museum's existing board will be dissolved as operations move to Stockton, and the $1.7 million that the museum had in its accounts will go to the university's foundation.
The Noyes Foundation will continues to support the museum's operations and acquisition of new art through annual donations that in recent years have been about $60,000. The museum also will continue to receive existing annual grants from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
Kesselman said he would look at multiple possibilities for the main location, including Atlantic City as the university builds a campus there.
"The Noyes Museum's presence should be at as many places as we could possibly showcase it," he said. "It's becoming interwoven with the fabric of the institution."