November 30, 2007

Case Western Reserve and Cleveland Museum of Art's joint program in art history and museum studies marks its 40th anniversary

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The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) and Case Western Reserve University's art history and museum studies program has been transforming students' lives and careers for 40 years. Friends and alumni marked this historic milestone and the program's longstanding success recently with a special anniversary event at the museum.

The program included remarks from Timothy Rub, director of the Cleveland Museum of Art, and Harvey Buchanan, Case Western Reserve professor emeritus of art history. Buchanan provided historic details of the agreement that he helped forged with CMA in 1967. Joining Buchanan and Rub on the program were Cyrus Taylor, dean of the Case Western Reserve College of Arts and Sciences; graduates and current art history students in the museum studies program; and Catherine Scallen, Case Western Reserve associate professor of art history and director of the graduate studies program in art history. The Friends of Art at the university hosted a reception after the program.

Since the inception of the program, nearly 200 graduates with Master of Arts degrees and more than 70 alumni with doctorates have gone on to teach at universities and work in museums around the country.

Among the museum studies graduates are Laura Gelfand, chair of the division of art history at the University of Akron, and Jane Glaubinger, curator of prints and drawing at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Both spoke at the event.

A successful graduate looks back

Glaubinger credits her career to the unique graduate education she received at Case Western Reserve.

Growing up in a family where her father collected prints and the family regularly visited the New York City art museums, Glaubinger looked for a program where she would "study real objects" and not pictures from a book.

Through classes and then an internship in the department that would later become her full-time job with curator Louise Richards, Glaubinger learned about watermarks, the quality of paper and feel of paper textures by touching and handling objects.

While a student in the program, Glaubinger also had the opportunity to take a class taught by Sherman Lee, the former director of the museum, who had written a textbook on Asian art. The museum's curators serve as adjunct faculty in the art history department.

"What makes this program so special is the connection of the curators to the real objects in the museum," said Glaubinger.

According to Buchanan, from the beginning of the program, students -- like Glaubinger -- from around the world have been attracted to this type of art history education, where they are immersed in the resources of one of America's leading art museums.

Students have a variety of experience-based learning opportunities through mentoring, research, internships and in assisting curators. They gain experience in curatorial practices, connoisseurship, conservation, design and museum education. Some of these activities have resulted in the launching of new exhibits and programs at the museum.

The museum is home to renowned collections, including the Ingalls Library, the fourth largest collection (more than 300,000 volumes) of art-related books, periodicals and written materials, and the museum's Photograph Study collection of 6.4 million images.

The inception of the art history and museum studies program

The program began after the federation of the Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University in 1967. Buchanan, who was serving as associate dean of humanities and arts in the new university, was charged by the institution's first president, Robert Morse (1967-1970), to explore collaborations with arts institutions in University Circle.

When Sherman Lee, the museum's then-director, was approached about the program, Buchanan recalled that Lee "enthusiastically agreed" to explore the collaboration, and the result was the joint program in art history and museum studies.

Buchanan also forged a reciprocal program with the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) in 1968 to provide CIM students with liberal arts studies and the university's students with instrumental training.

For more information, contact Susan Griffith, 216.368.1004.

Posted by: Kimyette Finley, November 30, 2007 10:25 AM | News Topics: Alumni, Collaborations/Partnerships, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, Events, Faculty, Graduate Studies

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