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For years, the New Britain Museum of American Art has been called "a little gem" by Connecticut's art aficionados. It's time for a new nickname.

The first museum in the nation dedicated solely to American art is still a gem, but it's not little any more.

On Sunday, Oct. 18, for the second time in a decade, the NBMAA cut the ribbon on a sizable expansion of the 112-year-old museum, where the growth of its collection has been impressive as well, more than doubling in recent years.

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New Britain Museum of American Art on Friday named a director to succeed Douglas Hyland. Min Jung Kim, who will join the museum on Nov. 2, is currently deputy director for external relations of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum of Michigan State University in East Lansing.

Kim will be the sixth director of the 112-year-old museum. Hyland's last day will be Oct. 30, according to assistant curator Emily Misencik. He has been director of the museum for 16 years.

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The New Britain Museum of American Art announces the new permanent Shaker Gallery, one of only three found in U.S. art museums, alongside the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The brainchild of Trustee and Shaker authority Steve Miller, the permanent gallery will rotate pieces from the Miller Collection in addition to gifts and loans on a regular basis, as each exhibition will “focus on” a different Shaker theme.

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Douglas Hyland, who has led the New Britain Museum of American Art through two major expansions, tripled its collections and more than doubled its endowment, will retire as the museum's director after its new addition is complete next fall.

Hyland, 65, announced his decision Wednesday at a meeting of the museum's board of trustees.

"Everything I envisioned for this museum has been accomplished," Hyland said. "The collections have grown, the attendance is at 100,000. This is the best year of our history."

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Collectors Charles and Irene Hamm have donated $1 million and 165 works from their collection of coastal art to the New Britain Museum of American Art in New Britain, CT. The collection includes oil paintings by Robert Henri, Thomas Hart Benton and Rockwell Kent as well as watercolors by Fairfield Porter and William Trost Richards. The generous monetary gift will help fund the construction of an 18,000-square-foot New Wing, which will include a Charles and Irene Hamm Gallery. The bequest will also increase the museum’s endowments for operations and acquisitions.

John R. Rathgeber, Chairman of the museum’s Board of Trustees, said, “With the donation of Charles and Irene Hamm, the New Britain Museum will have one of the most outstanding collections of coastal art in the country.” The museum plans to hold thematic exhibitions drawn from the Hamm’s holdings. A number of the significant works will be loaned to other institutions throughout the country and, in the future, the New Britain Museum plans to organize a traveling exhibition of highlights from the Hamm Collection.

Charles Hamm, a successful advertising and financial mogul, and his wife Irene, an educator, have been collecting for several decades. Charles’ affinity for maritime scenes was spurred by his love of sailing.

Construction is expected to begin on the New Britain Museum’s New Wing in 2014.

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