MORGANTOWN, WV.- The Art Museum of West Virginia University
will soon transition one of its two galleries into a dynamic, rotating installation of objects from its nearly 5000-object permanent collection.
The museum was awarded a $50,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation's American Art Program to make the change from its current model, which features temporary and traveling exhibitions in both galleries.
At present, the museum has no year-round space dedicated solely to exhibiting works from its collection, said Museum Director Todd J. Tubutis. The intent of this project is to provide an opportunity for visitors to regularly engage with the breadth of collection holdings while also establishing a flexible, interpretive framework that situates specific artists and artworks in larger social, cultural and art historical contexts.
The project will begin later this year with a projected opening in late January 2021. It will transform the 2,500-square-foot McGee Gallery into three distinct sub-galleries: the Deem Print Gallery for thematic displays from the museums sizable holdings of original prints, a space dedicated to American Modernist and West Virginia native Blanche Lazzell, and a third flexible area for displays of collection area highlights, recent acquisitions, faculty and student curatorial projects, or thematic responses to current events.
This three-part interpretive model will allow curatorial staff to regularly feature other collection strengths, too, such as contemporary ceramics, small-scale sculpture, artist books and portfolios, and works by self-taught Appalachian artists, Tubutis said. It will also create an opportunity to develop smaller, collection-based installations that would complement larger, traveling exhibitions mounted in the upper gallery, extending curatorial connections throughout the building and across the visitor experience.
According to Tubutis, the new gallery arrangement will also lend itself to multidisciplinary partnerships.
Initiating a dynamic permanent collection gallery would help give primacy to visual art in ways that extend and buttress important civic conversations happening across the university and around the country, Tubutis said. For instance, staff have begun conversations with WVUs Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as well as the LGBTQ Center about programmatic opportunities for the Art Museum to curate smaller projects that tie into larger campus dialogues. We hope this creates new opportunities for more interdisciplinary collaborations.
Once opened, each gallery section will be reinstalled every semester with different pieces from the collection.