A Love Story – LexArt Renovates & Renames Gallery Space to Honor Molly Nye

By E. Ashley Rooney

Upon completion, the newly renovated gallery was named in honor of Molly Harding Nye, a longtime member, a potter-sculptor, and former President of the Society (1975-1977 and 2009-2011).  The Gallery boasts a 1,000 square foot room with new LED gallery lighting. Shows and sales are free and open to the public. Show opening receptions, demos and lectures are often held along with the exhibitions.

While the pandemic closed many local facilities, The Lexington Arts and Crafts Society (LexArt), renovated its gallery and building during these months. The current structure, first built in 1953 on land bought for $5000, had gone through other additions and transformations, but this change is massive.
The gallery now is a simple but stunning venue. The ceiling was opened up to create an open, airy spatial feeling. The elegant light system enhances the artwork on display; the carpet was removed and the floor is now polished concrete, a handicapped lift and bathroom, new HVAC and hot water systems, increased storage, and Covid upgrades such as air purification systems were added, and the kitchen updated. Beautifully designed cabinetry with custom lighting will showcase the art of the society’s artists in the new retail space at the north end of the building.

Molly Harding Nye

The Love Story

Joseph Nye, Jr .wanted to do something special for the 80th birthday of his wife Molly. For years, he had listened to her, a decades-long member, talk about issues at the society. Wayne Davis, Chairman of the Board, now picks up the telling of this story. “When Joe asked Molly about a birthday gift, she said I am excited about the changes that are happening at LexArts. So they approached us. We said that the gallery is our face, and we want to be much more open to the community and more welcoming. In December 2019, Joe gifted the society with $250,000 in honor of Molly.

“To do the project and to do it right, we needed additional gifts so other family members and friends contributed as a way to honor Molly.” Wayne said. “Her daughter-in-law said it’s about Joe’s love for Molly and Molly’s love for Lex Art. And everyone loves Molly. She has so many admirers including me, because she has so much energy and so much enthusiasm.”

The Future

This attractive community gallery renovation continues the changes the society has been implementing in the last several years. Founded in 1935, the Lexington Arts & Crafts Society was a “town treasure” according to Molly, but “many people didn’t know about it. Under Wayne’s leadership, we have rewritten the bylaws, changed name to LexArt, and tried to be more with it in today’s world. Wayne saw how to make that happen and how to help the older members understand that change was necessary.”


Molly does some sculpture and regular throwing of bowls. She also makes these marvelous stonewall heads as seen here at the DE Cordova.

The organization has become more outward-facing and community-oriented. Its Executive Director Matt Siegel points out, “LexArt is striving to play a much more active role in community engagement, support and partnerships. The Federal Government doesn’t grant us nonprofit status to serve ourselves. It is the responsibility of arts organizations to promote learning, sharing, to generate discourse and dialogue. In tandem with the opening of our 25th annual high school exhibit February 17, we are announcing the expansion of our high school scholarship program, and a teen-focused arts education program.”

The organization is working to determine how LexArt is best equipped and positioned to provide service to the community. It would like to enter into partnership with other organizations, to hold public events, to become a meeting place for others. The society is considering themed and juried shows – rather than just shows by guilds. For instance, it had a trunk pottery show where potters drove into the large parking lot with their trunks filled with pottery for sale!

In the past, entering the building according to Molly “was like going into a gray cocoon. Now, someone will greet you at the front door. There is an ongoing salesroom for those birthday and wedding presents. It feels much cleaner and seemingly bigger.” Wayne adds, “We believe that this will help in the revitalization of Lexington.”

Address: 130 Waltham St,
Lexington, MA 02421
Phone: (781) 862-9696
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