Search Results for fine arts room

Fine Arts Room

In building upon President Lotus Coffman’s initial intentions with the “fine arts experiment” at the University, in the early years the Gallery provided not only exhibition and art rental in order to improve the “cultural aspects” of the student population, but also a room of respite in order for students to be exposed to art and culture.

Documentation included in Box 101, which includes Ruth Lawrence’s early correspondence and administrative papers, creates a picture of what the “Fine Arts Room” was like and the processes followed to maintain it.

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Georgia O’Keeffe: Oak Leaves, Pink and Grey

The Room was featured in a 1935 edition of School and Society in an article titled, “An Experimental Arts Room at Minnesota,” prompting an inquiry to Ruth Lawrence from a reader, C.H. Bennett. Lawrence, responding to the inquiry, provides an additional description of the room’s atmosphere and design, which also compliments the black and white photographs contained in the photograph collection of the University Archives:

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“The room is modern in design. A blue and off white color scheme is carried throughout, two walls blue and two walls and the ceiling off white. The furniture is all modern; the lines are horizontal. The windows have blue venetian blinds and heavy blue drapes which drop to the floor. At one end of the room is an alcove, indirectly lighted, in which we exhibit one masterpiece of modern painting. The corner of the opposite wall is mirrored in such a way as to afford a transition from the blue wall to the off white one. Besides the lighting in the alcove there are many modern designed lamps to give that added touch that makes the room homelike.”

“Everyone seems to feel that the room is fulfilling adequately the hope that it will become an art sanctuary. I believe an incident which happened when we opened the room will illustrate this. The evening before the opening reception, I was sitting in the room, giving it a last appraisal and criticism, when one of my employees came in to ask me a question. He progressed to the center of the room, stood still a moment, and then, with a hasty apology, carefully carried his cigarette to the door, and stamped it out saying that it was nothing short of sacrilidge to smoke there.”

The care and upkeep of the Room was tasked to the federal student workers employed at the Gallery. In “Instructions to Federal Students,” a complete description of the maintenance of the room is described,

 

“The Fine Arts Room is to be cleaned thoroughly 3 times a week. By cleaning “thoroughly” we mean that the rug is to be vacuumed, the venetian blinds dusted, the furniture dusted, the mirrors washed, the metal grills polished, etc. Every day however, the cabinets are to be dusted and should the rug need vacuuming, that is to be done also. We shall try to arrange it so that it is the duty of certain girls to do cleaning, but it is every girl’s responsibility to see that the room is in good shape at all time.”

 

The instructions also describe the behaviors to follow within the Room, which was monitored by “hostesses,” “Hostesses are not to study while they are on duty in this room. They are to sit quietly, reading the art books and magazines and taking the attendance. Visitors are not to smoke, study, or converse in loud tones. Also, lounging or napping on the part of either the visitors or hostesses is not permitted.

The instructions further indicate, “Daily attendance blanks are to be taken from the office by the person opening the room for the day. They are to be left in the room for subsequent entries by other hostesses and turned in to Room 318 when the room is closed.

Take a look at the attendance taken, and list of questions asked about the Fine Arts Room:

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Art: A matter of appreciation…

UA_Photos_FineArts_2.jpgWhen the Fine Arts Room first opened adjacent to the University Gallery in Northrop Auditorium in February 1936, the reaction amongst faculty and students was not that of unanimous approval. The room, designed by curator Ruth Lawrence with modern furnishings, was in stark contrast to other types of interior decoration then on campus. The room included a kapok circular couch, as well as venetian blinds and large blue floor length drapes. Lawrence even had the audacity to vary the paint color — two walls were painted blue, the other two off-white. Dean of the College of Education, Melvin E. Haggerty, who was apparently shocked by the décor of the room — as well as its purpose — wrote to Malcolm Willey and President Lotus Coffman to express his concern:

FAR_Letter-Haggerty.jpgFebruary 7, 1936, Dean Haggerty to President Coffman :

My dear President Coffman:

You can see from the enclosure that I am in a bad temper, but some activities about the University cut so clearly across the general philosophy of our departmental program in the field of art that I have attempted to express myself probably more emphatically than you will feel is justified.

I shall be glad to have this manuscript back when you have read it, if you have the time to do so.

Sincerely,
M.E. Haggerty

Haggerty included a manuscript titled, “The Artist and the Layman,” from a publication titled, “Arts & Progress,” dated 1915, the main point of which argued that “the idea which distinguished the artist as a different kind of being from the layman has led to an unfortunate and unnecessary separation in artistic education.” It further stated that in artistic training, even if an artist were to acquire the best technical training, he still has “little chance of knowing anything even about art. The one thing which he ought to have above anything else is critical judgment; and this can be formed only on the basis of serious and prolonged study of masterpieces of the past and of the present day.”

Such thought was in contrast to the intent and purpose of the Fine Arts Room, which was opened not to rigorously train artists, but to provide access to art and cultivate artistic appreciation for ALL University students. When Dean Malcolm Willey first proposed opening a Fine Arts Room to President Coffman, he wrote that he was inspired by the “theory that true appreciation of fine art comes from being in presence of a fine object under ideal conditions.” The origination of the Fine Arts Room was revealed in a letter Willey wrote to Coffman on June 1, 1935:

I should like to try the experiment of fitting up on our campus, as part of our attempt to increase interest in and appreciation of fine arts, a room which in its furnishings should be simple, but in impeccable taste, comfortable, and in every way lovely as a room. Into this I would put one art object at a time – one of the fine things we have bought… I would open this room as a retreat. No studying allowed, no textbooks admitted, no formal instruction. If the setting and the art object [cannot] induce the spell I am seeking, nothing else can.

Haggerty, not inclined to follow this philosophy, and still stirred up by the Fine Arts Room and the University’s approach to arts appreciation, wrote another letter, this time to Dean Willey:

FAR_Letter-Haggerty2.jpgFebruary 10, 1936, Dean Haggerty to Dean Willey:

My dear Dean Willey:

Just by way of continuing the argument under conditions of complete sobriety and having the latest, if not the last, word I am enclosing an effusion which I got off my chest Friday.

Sincerely yours,
M.E. Haggerty

On the bottom of Haggerty’s typed letter is a hand-written note from Willey to President Coffman, whom he likely forwarded the letter to:

My dear President Coffman,

At least Dean Haggerty plays fairly! He has sent me a copy of his reactions to the art room, which gives me the chance to continue our friendly discussion.

M.Willey

In President Coffman’s reply to Dean Haggerty regarding the Fine Arts Room, and of art in general and its appreciation in the University, a reflection of Coffman’s well-held educational beliefs are asserted:

February 13, 1936, President Coffman to Dean Haggerty:

I think there may be something to your surmise that you got out on the wrong side of the bed the morning you wrote your reflections on visiting the new fine art room in Northrop Memorial Auditorium.

I agree fully with your general position that we should create an environment which will be artistic and attractive, which means that attention should be given to the architecture and the general style of our buildings, to the improvement of campus, and to doing everything and anything that will in any way contribute to making our situation more attractive and beautiful. Now from this point I think we might begin to have some differences of opinion.

I do not believe that all art is associated with utility as I think that many researches are carried on with just the researcher having any thought or conception of their value or use. I should have pictures and other forms of art about the campus even though I don’t understand them, just as I would have a beautiful chapel on the campus even though no one ever worshipped in it, or ever went there for prayers, or to hear the Scriptures read. I would have fine music played on the campus and I would reduce the rates, if I had my way, to a point which made it possible for the poorest to attend; I would do this even though I know that most of those who attend don’t understand a thing that is being played. I have often thought that it would be a most interesting psychological study for one to take an inventory of the thoughts that race through the minds of a hundred or more persons in the audience at one of the Symphony concerts. I find, for example, that I think about everything under the sun. I would have people live in an environment every feature of which makes some artistic contribution and I really would try to teach students as much as possible about these features, for I believe that appreciation and genuine understanding are closely related.

Mr. Willey said you sent him a copy of your paper. I am glad that you did. He told me that you and he are carrying on an interesting and animated discussion on the subject of art. Who knows, maybe your letters and his will be published some day just as Royce’s and James’ letters have been published.”

After reading this series of correspondence, a new appreciation is gained of President Coffman’s early advocacy of the arts and his enlightened educational philosophy.


2 “e’s” and 2 “f’s”

Web_UA_Photos_FineArts_1.jpgThroughout the summer and fall of 1935, Dean Malcolm Willey and curator Ruth Lawrence were busy making preparations to open a Fine Arts Room as an extension of the gallery. They secured funds from President Coffman to furnish the room as well as to purchase an original work of art to serve as the focal point. Willey and Lawrence selected Georgia O’Keeffe’s, “Oak Leaves, Pink and Gray,” which they purchased in New York City.

In order to prepare for any possible errors in the eventual publicity that the opening of the room and the acquisition of the painting would likely receive, Willey wrote the following letter on October 25, 1935 and addressed it to The Minnesota Daily:

“I know that you are always anxious to come as close to accuracy as possible in the Daily, even to the spelling of names. During the next weeks you undoubtedly will have accounts referring from time to time to the special art room which the University is opening and the distinguished painting which the University has acquired for hanging in it. The artist is Georgia O’Keeffe. Would you instruct your desk men or whoever oversees such matters, that the proper spelling is with two “e’s” and 2 “f’s”: thus, O’Keeffe.”

Despite the forewarning, as found in two separate articles clipped from the Daily, Georgia’s surname was printed with a singular “f”:

From, “U Plans New Student Room for Art Study,” The Minnesota Daily, January 29, 1936:

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From, “New Art Room Opens Sunday,” The Minnesota Daily, January 26, 1936:

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Art imitates… history?

The following image, titled, “Still Life” was found on a University Gallery Press book page along with newspaper clippings related to the opening of the Fine Arts Room at the University Gallery in February of 1936:

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The Fine Arts Room, established by Ruth Lawrence and Malcolm Willey, was created with the intent of stimulating interest in fine arts amongst the University student population. As Willey indicated in a January 29, 1936 article in the MN Daily, “This new art room, distinctly American and modern in its conception, is being specially decorated in simple but excellent taste. Here will be placed a few well selected books and magazines in fine art, but nothing for formal study, which will be prohibited.

Woodhouse.jpgArt imitates history… as on the last few days of February 2012, WAM staff set up some furnishings in one of their new galleries – the Woodhouse Family Gallery. Incidentally, this gallery is “distinctly American and modern in its conception,” as it prominently features the museum’s collection of the works of artists Alfred Maurer and Marsden Hartley. Next to the furnishings, staff also “placed a few well selected books in fine art,” for visitors to read at their leisure.

While formal study in the Woodhouse Gallery is not prohibited per say – the intent of the new furnishings is to create a simple – but excellent – atmosphere in which to look at… and learn about… art.


From the Publicity Books: Honoring Ruth Lawrence…I

 

 

At first glance, the University Gallery’s Publicity Books appear to be mere scrapbooks filled with mementos of early exhibitions, that were found filed away on a bookshelf somewhere in the back of someone’s office. However, tucked unassumingly into a Publicity Book dated 1953-1954, rests a short but impressive letter that challenges that idea.

 

March 12, 1953

Dear Mrs. Lawrence:

It was with interest that I read the attached clipping in the Minneapolis Star.  It brought back many fond memories of my days on the campus; Mrs. Humphrey and I made countless trips to the gallery, there was always something new and interesting to be seen.  I particularly remember some of the modern art exhibits and the heated discussions they precipitated.

You are to be commended on the magnificent job you have done through the years. I know you must have derived great personal satisfaction from it.

With all the best wishes.

Sincerely yours,
Hubert H. Humphrey

 

The letter was sent to University Gallery director Ruth Lawrence from then senator and future Vice President of the United States, Hubert H. Humphrey shortly after his first unsuccessful run for president. Humphrey cared enough to write to Lawrence after coming across an article featuring Lawrence in the daily newspaper.  The article states:

In the beginning the gallery placed the emphasis on contemporary art and in this was the first among the city’s galleries.  

Now it has become what Mrs. Lawrence had planned: the “handmaiden of teaching.” Student shows, faculty show, shows on design, architecture, advertising art and interior decoration are aids to the student as well as pleasant to look at for the casual gallery visitor. 

 

It’s clear from Humphrey’s letter, that included the clipping, that the gallery had fulfilled Lawrence’s instructional mission in meaningful, lasting ways.

 

 

I don’t know about you, but if I received a letter out of the blue from one of our senators commending me for a job well done, I would certainly be flattered and I might frame or otherwise show off the letter. From the inclusion of such a glowing letter from a prominent local and national figure in the Publicity Book, one gets the feeling that the books weren’t tucked away in the back of an office but perhaps on display to be perused by students and visitors to the gallery or the Fine Arts Room.

In an archival setting, correspondence of all types are often grouped together within a collection. However, original order is a fundamental principle of archives because it can help define relationships. The Humphrey letter, while unusual for its placement in a Publicity Book, wasn’t misfiled but rather infers that these books were publicly used. Perhaps this letter inside the Publicity Book was almost as visible as a frame on the wall, and so a fitting way to honor Ruth Lawrence and her mission with the gallery.

 

Heather Carroll is the processing archivist for the Weisman Art Museum‘s collection at the University of Minnesota Archives. This project was made possible by funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society.

 

 

 


High School Higher Ed

Since the founding of WAM as the University Gallery in 1934, students at the University have been provided with several opportunities for direct exposure to art. In the early years – after completing their rigorous studies – students could climb the several flights of stairs in Northrop Auditorium to visit the latest exhibit displayed in the gallery or flip through the pages of an artist’s biography while relaxing in the Fine Arts Room. They could even return to their own dormitory to gaze upon a print that they rented for 25 cents from the gallery’s student loan collection.

But what about other students in Minnesota who did not attend the University? What about their exposure to art? The University Gallery had that covered too…

HighSchool-2.jpgIn May of 1938 the University Gallery loaned more than 40 color prints from the student loan collection (a collection of print reproductions that students could rent to decorate their rooms) to be exhibited at secondary schools in the Twin Cities. In collaboration with the Minneapolis committee of the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City, modern prints from within the gallery’s student loan collection were displayed first at Central High School and later at Folwell Junior High School in Minneapolis.

The prints were selected by Ruth Lawrence, gallery curator, and Miss Ella Witter, art instructor at Central High School. The exhibit was intended as an introduction to modern art for high school students and included reproductions of the works of Kandinsky, O’Keeffe, Picasso, Matisse, Renoir, Cezanne, among others.

Press clippings found within the University Gallery press books provide photographs and descriptions of the traveling exhibition:

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HighSchool-1.jpgYou may notice on the images from the press books that the notations next to the clippings state 1939 and not 1938. To get down to the bottom of this matter of year, I headed to the Minnesota Daily’s PDF Archives. On page 2 of the April 29, 1938 edition of the MN Daily the article,” Gallery Shows Will Circulate in High Schools” is found. The heading of the press book page indicates 1938 as well.

*For a history of Minneapolis public schools, visit the Minneapolis Public Schools online historical archive, which has hundreds of files and photographs that document the history of the school district.


And the Oscar goes to…

This upcoming Sunday, February 26th, millions of people worldwide will turn their televisions on to catch a glimpse of the glitz and glamour of Hollywood on the broadcast of the 84th annual Academy Awards.

Who will take home the Oscar?

In May of 1936, staff of the University Gallery wondered, “who would take home our Oscar?

Press book clippings reveal a story that could surely rival any award-nominated screenplay – a plotline of crime and betrayal in a gallery caper that went unsolved. The leading role in this gallery mystery was in fact not an award… but a cat.


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Assistant to the President, Malcolm Willey, who served as chairman of the Fine Arts Committee, was none too pleased about the theft, and penned a letter to the MN Daily that articulated his disappointment in the incident:

It is perhaps appropriate to claim some of the space in a column called ‘Over the Back Fence’ to talk about cats. Seriously, may I call to attention the implications that are attached to the theft from the Fine Arts Room last week of the wood carving of a kitten. The value of the piece is not the fact of major importance – $12.00 or $15.00, although it is surprising that anyone would steel a mere decorative object worth even this amount. The disappearance of the carving would be easier to understand if it did have more value. I can only assume that some thoughtless person, intrigued by the whimsicality of the piece, carried it off for display elsewhere. The University has tried in the Fine Arts Room to make available to the students a beautiful room that could be enjoyed with informality in moments of leisure. There have been large numbers of students enjoying the room as shown by its use. They have enjoyed the room freely and without anyone standing over them. If things are stolen, it is necessary to have the room supervised constantly. This defeats part of its purpose and violates the spirit under which it has been operated. Someone’s thoughtlessness or disregard of the fact that this carving was after all the property of the University, destroys the privileges that the many students have been given. The only hope is that the carving will be returned. It is an amusing piece and belongs in the room where all students can see and enjoy it. My hope in writing is that someone who did not think of the really serious aspects of a seemingly harmless prank, will read this letter and on second thought, realize how unfair he has been to the students – and then that Oscar will thereupon find his way back to the Fine Arts Room.”

As a result of the incident, a hostess system was implemented wherein volunteers from the Faculty Womens club staffed the Fine Arts Room.


Federal Students

In the early years of the Gallery, personnel consisted of the curator, Ruth Lawrence, and to those who are referred to in the archival records as, “federal students.” This title is written in pencil on the back of a photograph in Box 3:

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The Federal Students employed at the Gallery were part of the National Youth Administration (NYA), a division under the Works Progress Administration that provided work-study income to students and other financial support to youth in the years that followed the Great Depression.

Web_FedStudents_03.jpgBox 101 contains a folder titled, “Gallery Procedures” in which resides the document, “Instructions to Federal Students.” From the instructions, we learn of what the duties of the Federal Students were, “As noted above, the departments with which you will be mainly concerned are (2) Art Reference Room, (4) the Fine Arts Room, (11) the Galleries.

In the foreword to a bound gallery report compiled in 1939, Ruth Lawrence provides further description of the “federal students,”

“The N.Y.A. students were wholly untrained and those assigned often came to us at first disinterested in the work, and great deal of patience was needed in training them for the tasks they were to do… “

Other included documentation reveals the position requests that were made to the Federal Student Work Project in 1936-1937:

Secretarial – shorthand typing
poster work – art training-printing
journalism – handle publicity work
take charge of print room and art books, print file – graduate students in art if possible, afternoons free
collect materials on artists for their works for loan print collections – must have fine arts training
finish and make picture frames – carpentering and painting, packing and unpacking for gallery and lifting hanging exhibitions
guard duty – interest in art, so as to answer questions in gallery, two may be women for fine art room.

An example of the duties performed by federal students is found on a Federal Student Daily Report,

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In the same 1939 gallery report, Ruth reflected,

“…The task was tremendous and it was fraught by almost insurmountable hazards due to the inaccurateness caused by ignorance of the material handled and the fact that the students were attempting tasks which required trained skill and knowledge. It was only through patient and laborious instruction that they could carry on with any degree of efficiency. However, without the excellent cooperation and enthusiasm of these students and a determination to build the Gallery into a fine thing, this task would have been hopeless.”

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Campus Landscapes

In the summer of 1934 (following the official opening of the Little Gallery), President Lotus Coffman initiated the idea for the University to employ the services of artists in the soon-to-be terminated federal Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) program, to capture landscapes of the University campus through brushes and canvas.

PWAP was created in 1933 and was funded by the US Civil Works Administration. In Minnesota, the project was administered by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts under the direction of Russell Plimpton. After the conclusion of the PWAP program in 1934, individual states assumed responsibility for projects still in existence.

On November 5, 1934, Plimpton wrote to Malcolm Willey, Assistant to President Coffman, requesting a description of the work that the artists had completed for the University, stating, “So far as I know, the University of Minnesota was the only one to undertake any continuance of the government’s P.W.A. plan, and I believe that a brief record of it would be especially interesting…

On November 14, 1934, Willey sent a formal report of the University’s involvement in PWA projects to Plimpton, indicating that, “We now have on exhibition at the Little Gallery all of the works that were done by the group of artists last spring. I hope that you will be able to come over to see them before they are taken down. There is, of course, wide variation in the merit of these pictures, but considering the purpose that we had in mind in inviting the men to campus, I feel that the results are highly satisfactory.

I would summarize the University’s involvement in the employment of PWA artists, but I feel that Willey’s formal report to Plimpton is… highly satisfactory…

University Art Project Employing PWA

The University of Minnesota has during the past few months been attempting in a quiet way to arouse interest in the fine arts.

There is, to be sure, adequate class work which students may take, but the interest of which we speak is that extending beyond the class room.

President L.D. Coffman early this spring (1934) had raised the question informally of whether or not there were some local artists who might be brought to the campus to paint scenes associated with the University. He had three ideas in mind:

(1) To attract the attention of students by allowing them to see artists at work and dealing with subject matter that was familiar.

(2) To obtain for hanging in various University rooms where students assemble some colorful pictures that would serve to enhance the attractiveness of these rooms.

(3) To stimulate an interest in the work of local artists and lend whatever support he could to their development and local appreciation.

When the PWA art projects were terminating, President Coffman directed a member of his staff to raise with the local committee the possibility of continuing a small group of the artists who would be employed on the federal project by bringing them to the campus at the same rates of pay they had been receiving under PWA.

It was found that this was not only feasible, but that the artists themselves were eager for the chance to continue employment, especially to work on the campus of the University with the assurance that their paintings would be hung.

Accordingly, a sum of money which was available at the University was put aside to employ a small group of local artists. Altogether, seven were brought to the campus for various periods. These were:

Mr. Cameron Booth
Mr. Dewey Albinson
Mr. Elof Wedin
Mr. Erle Loran
Mr. Sydney G. Fossum
Mr. Arnold N. Klagstad
Mr. Stanford Fenelle.

It was agreed with the artists that they should receive compensation at approximately the same rate as the PWA had paid them, and that there should be no restrictions as to subject matter other than that they should center in the district in which the University is located – that is, southeast Minneapolis.

Because it was intended to use the work submitted by the artists for decoration of University lounge rooms, assembly rooms, class room corridors, and so forth, it was decided to limit the artists to those working in oil and water color, thus assuring more colorful results.

To supervise the project on the campus, the President appointed a committee of four – Dean Malcolm M. Willey of the University, Mr. Russell Plimpton of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Mr. Cameron Booth of the St. Paul School of Art, and Mr. Hudson Walker, curator of the Little Gallery, University of Minnesota. Mr. Booth had given valuable assistance to the PWA work through his technical advice to the artists that had been employed. Mr. Plimpton and Mr. Walker had also been associated with the PWA project, and their membership on the University Committee constituted a continuing link between the two projects.

The committee met one afternoon each week, at which time the artists brought in their work of the preceding seven days. At these meetings it was determined which sketches should be worked up and other matters of a similar nature were discussed.

As a result of the program which extended altogether over six weeks the University acquired 43 water colors of various sizes, 24 small oils chiefly in the nature of sketches, and 14 larger-sized oils. President Coffman then made available sufficient money to frame the entire collection. The watercolors were framed by a commercial gallery in downtown Minneapolis. Frames for the oils were made at the University carpenter shop, following patterns found satisfactory by the PWA committee. The basic costing of whiting the glue was applied in the University paint shop, after which the artists themselves were invited back to finish the frames. For this they were paid at the rate of $1.00 an hour.

The entire collection is now on exhibition at the University of Minnesota Little Gallery, and is attracting a large number of visitors. Already a request has come from the St. Paul Public Library to borrow the collection for a brief showing there.

The Little Gallery at the University of Minnesota is open each week-day and also each evening and Sunday when Symphony concerts are given in Northrop Memorial Auditorium, in which building the Little Gallery is located. The management of the Symphony and the University Artists’s Course has generously donated space in the printed program to call attention to the fact that Symphony patrons are invited during intermission and following the concerts to attend the exhibition. In this way interest in the collection extends beyond the student body on the campus.

Mrs. Ruth Lawrence who is now curator of the Little Gallery has already begun her plans for distribution of the collection among the various University buildings. The largest number of items will go to Pioneer Hall, Sanford Hall, and the College Women’s Dormitory on the farm campus. These are the University residence halls. None of the pictures will be used for office decorations, but will be hung so that students may have contact with them. It is our intention to change the pictures from building to building now and then.”

(from the WAM Collection, Box 109, General Gallery Correspondence)

Web_WAMEntrance2.jpgToday, WAM proudly exhibits two of the campus landscapes in the entrance to the museum. Because the shadows in this photograph (taken with full effect of the late afternoon sun) block the landscapes from view, you will just have to stop in to the museum to see them for yourself!


Portraiture

This past week, the University of Minnesota welcomed new President Eric Kaler with an inauguration – amongst other fanfare and ceremony. The Student Unions and Activities office shared a photograph of President Kaler next to his picture portrait that will be placed in the President’s Room of Coffman Memorial Union.

This lead me to think of the origin of the portrait of the University president for which the student union is named: President Lotus Delta Coffman. The University Gallery, as it turns out, had a large role in preparing Coffman’s portraiture for display.

From the WAM Collection, file of the Fine Arts Committee, Box 110, Minutes of the Fine Arts Committee, December 4, 1939:

“The fifth item to be discussed was relative to the portrait of President Coffman. This painting was completed by Mr. John Johansen of New York, and was ready for its first viewing by the Arts Committee. The Committee went to Mr. Burton’s studio where the painting was shown. It was the consensus of opinion that the portrait was a dignified one and well represented Mr. Coffman and that for future generations it would be a worthy record of him. Instructions were then given Mrs. Lawrence to take the portrait to the Gallery for cataloguing, photographing, and storage until the frame could be designed by Mr. Johansen and the painting could finally be put into place in the main lounge of the Coffman Memorial union. Instructions were given Mrs. Lawrence to have 6 8×10 photographs made by Mr. Hollis and 1 small photo for the Gallery records. One 8×10 print is to go to Mrs. Coffman, one is to be kept in the Gallery files, and the remaining four are to be sent to Dean Willey’s office.”


*President Coffman passed away September 22 1938.