September 23, 2020

Trenton City Museum to Reopen with New Exhibits

NEW AT ELLARSLIE: “Messenger,” a wood sculpture by Richard Sanders, left, and “The Worst Part of a Good Day,” a painting by Christina MacKinnon, are featured in “The Conversation Continues,” one of two new exhibits opening on September 26 at the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie in Cadwalader Park.

The Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie  is set to invite the community back for in-person visits beginning at noon on September 26. Ushering in the reopening are the abstract art exhibition “The Conversation Continues,” and the Trenton history exhibition “On the Forefront: Trenton’s Junior 1, 1916,” both in the museum and online.

A timed entry system available at Mask requirements, social distancing, museum capacity of 25 persons at a given time, and barriers in the museum store are among the museum’s new safety measures.

“Our two new exhibitions get to the heart of our mission to examine our Trenton history and showcase compelling works by emerging and established artists,” said Trenton Museum Society President Joan Perkes. “We are thrilled to reopen to the public with new programming accompanied by a host of measures that support equally welcoming and safe surroundings. In fact, the subject of our history exhibit ‘In the Forefront,’ echoes a past epidemic as Trenton’s Junior No. 1 had to forego a grand opening and fanfare and open many weeks later than planned due to a polio epidemic in the summer and fall of 1916.”

“The Conversation Continues” showcases 40 abstract works by 16 artists that communicate predominantly through form rather than subject matter. Curator Madelaine Shellaby has installed unexpected groupings that “converse” about their differences while drawing viewers into their conversations to perhaps find common ground among what is initially perceived as difference. Replacing a traditional opening reception for the exhibition will be a Meet the Artists Weekend, planned for October 2 and 3 from noon to 4 p.m. and October 4 from 1 to 4 p.m., when select artists are available at different times. Artists inlcude Joyce Chen, Tim Eads, Lisa Fischetti, Terri Fridkin, Erika Gehringer, James Jansma, Shirley Kern, Marsha Levin-Rojer, Christina MacKinnon, Eva Mantell, Florence Moonan, Jim Perry, Debbie Reichard, Richard Sanders, and Adam Welch.

Visitors may sign up for timed entries for these or other days at

A virtual Curator’s Talk led by Shellaby is planned for the fall, with the date to be announced.

“On the Forefront,”  curator Karl J. Flesch was inspired to create the exhibit by haunting and beautiful photographs of the building’s interior and exterior by J. Carlos Vargas and Robert J. Sammons.

“I wanted to go further and tell the history of building the school and thus my research began,” said Flesch. “Junior Number 1 was one of the first junior high schools to be built in the East and became a model for other districts to see. I soon discovered that the story was not just one story but many: the nationwide junior high school movement; architect William A. Poland; Herman C. Mueller, the school board president and founder of the Mueller Mosaic Company; high school principal William A. Wetzel; Mayor Frederick W. Donnelly; the 1916 infantile paralysis epidemic; the building of Trenton’s other junior high schools and high school; and the Integration of Trenton’s public schools.”

A virtual Curator’s Talk led by Flesch is planned for the fall, with a date to be announced.

The Trenton City Museum is housed in Ellarslie Mansion, in the heart of Trenton’s Cadwalader Park. The museum’s reopening will phase back in with COVID safety measures and reduced hours: Saturdays from 12 noon to 4 p.m., Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m., and occasional additional dates. For more information, visit or call (609) 989-1191.