Museum of New Mexico Media Center Press Release

New Mexico Museum of Art hosts British Museum’s “Lines of Thought” International Debut

New Mexico Museum of Art

January 16, 2017


For Immediate Release: January 16, 2017 (Santa Fe, NM)—In late May 2017, Lines of Thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to Now: from the British Museum makes its international debut at the New Mexico Museum of Art, the first, and one of only two United States venues to host the exhibition. With works from a list that reads like a “who’s who" of international artists through the centuries, the exhibition offers a rare opportunity to better understand the thinking behind an artist’s drawing, comparing side by side drawings from master draftsmen across five centuries. The featured artists include Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Albrecht Dürer, Piet Mondrian, Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Bridget Riley, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Franz Kline and Rachel Whiteread.

Examining the enormous variety of methods used as a means of recording and provoking thought from the fifteenth century to today, Lines of Thought explores the history of drawing as a thinking medium, providing insight into the minds of some of the world’s greatest artists. A treasure of small wonders, this exhibit features powerful designs and suggestive sketches by Renaissance masters and artists through the ages. 

Lines of Thought is one of the British Museum Prints and Drawings department’s largest touring exhibitions bringing together 70 drawings selected from the museum’s unparalleled graphics collection of more than 50,000 drawings and two million prints dating from the fifteenth century. Lines of Thought runs from May 27 through September 17, 2017.The exhibit will help visitors understand drawing and inspire them to draw too.

"A drawing can capture and preserve a record of an artist’s thoughts, rendering visible ideas, developing and refining them, serving as a key conceptual tool throughout each stage of the artistic process," explained Museum of Art Director Mary Kershaw.  Lines of Thought explores the numerous and invaluable lessons one can learn from examining the drawings of past masters in the context of artists working today, from Michelangelo to Mondrian, Rembrandt to Rachel Whiteread, Piranesi to Picasso." 

Spanning centuries and many schools, Lines of Thought demonstrates different types of thought process, illustrating: First Thoughts and Brainstorming, Enquiry and Experiment, Insight and Association, and Development and Decisions. Lines of Thought emphasizes the fundamental nature of drawing that through the centuries unites all artists as a way of thinking on paper.

The Lines of Thought international exhibition is the result of a three-year program of student workshops at the British Museum to encourage art students to look at drawings, and to draw from them, generously supported by the Bridget Riley Art Foundation.

As part of its 2017 Centennial Celebration, the New Mexico Museum of Art is the first U.S. venue to host the Lines of Thought exhibit, which is touring in the United Kingdom at museums in Poole, Hull and Belfast before traveling internationally.

Images from top:
Leonardo da Vinci (Italian, 1452–1519), The Virgin and Christ Child with a Cat, about 1478–81, pen and brown ink over stylus underdrawing. Collection of the British Museum (1856,0621.1) © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Rembrandt (Dutch, 1606-1669), A Clump of Trees in a Fenced Enclosure, about 1645, black chalk. Collection of the British Museum (1977,0611.4) © The Trustees of the British Museum.

About the New Mexico Museum of Art:
Founded in 1917 as the Art Gallery of the Museum of New Mexico, the New Mexico Museum of Art has been presenting innovative arts programming in downtown Santa Fe for close to 100 years.  At its founding the museum collected and exhibited artworks by noted artists from New Mexico and elsewhere. This tradition continues today with a wide array of exhibitions and a significant collection featuring work from the world’s leading artists. Today, as at its founding, the New Mexico Museum of Art strives to bring the art of New Mexico to the world and the art of the world to New Mexico.

The New Mexico Museum of Art is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, New Mexico’s cultural steward charged with preserving and showcasing the state’s cultural riches. Museum exhibitions and programs are supported by donors to the Museum of New Mexico Foundation and its Director’s Leadership Fund, Exhibitions Development Fund, and Fund for Museum Education.

The Museum is located at 107 West Palace Avenue, Santa Fe, New Mexico, just off the downtown Plaza. 24 Hr. Recorded Message: 505-476-5072; Front desk: 505-476-5041. November through April the museum is open Tuesdays - Sundays: 10 am-5 pm and open for free 5 to 8 pm on the first Friday of the month. May through October the museum is open 7 days a week 10 am-5 pm and is open for free every Friday night from 5 to 8 pm. The Museum is closed on Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Weather conditions may require the Museum to close; you can check with the Front Desk at 505-476-5041. Visit us on the web for the latest updates at

About the British Museum:
Founded in 1753, the British Museum was the first national public museum in the world. From the outset it was a museum of the world, for the world, and this idea still lies at the heart of the Museum’s mission today. The collection tells the stories of cultures across the world, from the dawn of human history, over two million years ago, to the present. Objects range from the earliest tools made by humans and treasures from the ancient world to more recent acquisitions from Africa, Oceania and the Americas, the Middle East, Asia and Europe, as well as the national collections of prints and drawings, and coins and medals. In addition to work in London, the Museum takes part in an extensive programme of loans and tours, both across the UK and throughout the world.

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