From the Director, Alex W. Barker
It probably seems a bit obvious to say that the Museum has been a busy place. Moving a major collection, renovating areas, unpacking and reorganizing collections, and all the other tasks associated with uprooting and relocating a museum would keep any staff rather busy. But that’s only part of the story. While the move occupied much of our attention, the Museum’s collections continue to grow. We added six new works by Andy Warhol to the collection through the generosity of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and a series of eighty-six works from the estate of noted artist and MU faculty member Robert Bussabarger through the generosity of his family. A total of ninety-eight regionalist paintings and drawings comprising the Scruggs-Vandervoort-Barney “Heart of the Nation” collection were transferred from Jesse Hall to the Museum’s permanent collection; that transfer was something I’d sought since my first months at the University. Two works were added by purchase through the Paintbrush Ball and Museum Associates, and another important regional work, American Tragedy by Albert Pels (depicting the aftermath of a lynching), was acquired through the generosity of Alex and Robin LaBrunerie. Nor have our acquisitions been limited to modern, two-dimensional works—we also acquired a lovely pre-Columbian jaguar-effigy grinding slab as a transfer from the Missouri State Museum.
We’ve been equally active in other areas. Rachel Navarro and Cathy Callaway have been working on new educational programs intended to reach schools that may find our new location less accessible, including a new “A Portrait of the Museum in 30 Objects” online module, which includes study questions and information placing the works into context http://maa.missouri.edu/slideshows/30objects/.
Cathy’s also been working with me on a redesign of the Museum’s website to better serve the needs of our audiences. Everything about the move has been informed by the need to take even greater care of our irreplaceable collections and ensure that investments we make now can come with us when we return to campus. All of our new and upgraded cabinetry and storage racks were selected with this in mind, and this autumn we’re implementing new wireless temperature and humidity sensors to help us be even better stewards of the more than 16,000 objects in our collections.
And while the new galleries don’t allow for the same temporary exhibition space as was available at Pickard Hall, we are nevertheless beginning planning for both permanent installations and temporary exhibitions. Even before the main galleries are completed we’ll host a temporary exhibition of drawings, guest-curated by Matthew Ballou of MU's Art Department, and we’re already planning a 2016 traveling exhibition featuring works by American artist Simon Dinnerstein, organized by the Museum and informed by a symposium held here at Mizzou examining his work.
Perhaps our most exciting news is that we’ve been negotiating with the Capitoline Museum in Rome for a major project documenting Roman antiquities—and while the official announcement takes place after publication of this issue, readers like you get a sneak preview here. Scholarly study of antiquities has been part of the Museum’s character since its founding more than fifty years ago, and this represents a major new chapter in that ongoing mission.
Look for more news regarding this project in the months to come. We’ll be reopening soon, and can’t wait to welcome you back to the Museum.