From the Director, Alex W. Barker
It’s been a busy year. Mary Pixley has completed research on one of our new acquisitions (The Sorceress, see p.6) and has a manuscript for submission to a scholarly journal. Benton Kidd continues his research on stucco from Tel Anafa and on the geographic sources of the Museum’s Greek and Roman white marble sculpture and I just completed the fifth season of my NSF-funded excavations at the Bronze Age tell of Pecica Santul Mare in western Romania. Staff have traveled to Europe, the Middle East and throughout the US on various research trips, and some of our works of art remain on international tour—a Renoir drawing was recently in a retrospective in Rome, and Benton’s Portrait of a Musician (see p.13) is in the midst of an international tour with stops in Italy, France and Spain. We completed the year-long self-study portion of the American Association of Museums accreditation process, and are now arranging for a site visit by a team of museum experts to review all of our operations and programs. Our film series continues to expand in scope and popularity, and Cathy Callaway organized a broad range of educational programs for all ages.
The year to come promises to be busier still. We’re in the midst of a set of Conservation Assessment Program site visits to help guide collections care and preservation, and are working with University and external consultants regarding Pickard Hall and how to best preserve its historic façade while also preserving the irreplaceable collections it holds—and all the while planning for what the Museum of the future might be like. We’re adding new, significant works to the collection, while developing a series of exciting and intellectually challenging exhibitions, as you’ll see inside both the covers of this magazine and inside the doors of the Museum. To supplement The Sacred Feminine, Prehistory To Postmodernity, Benton Kidd has organized a major academic symposium addressing the many, complex topics raised by the exhibition. And our Faces of Warhol show, based on a gift of more than 150 Warhol photographs from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, continues through the beginning of June, 2010, enriched by detailed and substantive explanations that place his works in deeper context. We’re also seeking to place architectural icons of the campus in context—our virtual exhibition on the iconography of the Memorial Union is already online and Arthur Mehrhoff is working now to launch a more ambitious project examining the historic Residence on the Quadrangle. Meanwhile Jeff Wilcox and the collections staff are cataloguing a major acquisition of handmade books published by Ediciones Vigía in Cuba; over seventy books have been purchased by the Museum and another thirty are anticipated to soon enter the collection thanks to a generous gift from a longtime friend of the Museum. They are also continuing efforts to add images to our electronic collections database, so that scholars and audiences around the world will be able to explore our unique holdings.
All of these are parts of a larger effort, to build a stronger and more vibrant museum, better able to achieve its mission and to meet the needs of our diverse and growing audiences. Excellence in museums isn’t simply a goal to be achieved, after all, but a process of continuous improvement and change.
I hope we’ll see you at the Museum in the days to come, so you can measure those improvements and changes yourself.