Welcome to Off the Wall. We’ve skimmed the news around the museum, and want to share the highlights with you.
Written while sipping tea at my desk.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Keep in mind, all our work is for the future. Let us spare not, nor look back, but go forward unlimited with all our powers.” – Fred Jones Sr.
AN OIL TYCOON, AN ART DEALER, & A COLLECTION OF EAST ASIAN ART WALK INTO A BAR
Okay, here’s the Cliff’s Notes version, kids. The University of Oklahoma Museum of Art was founded in 1936 with a donation of 750 works of East Asian art. Along the way, we changed our name to the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, and our collection expanded faster than your waistline at the state fair. We now have nearly 17,000 objects—almost as many shoes as I have in my closet!
WAIT… SO, WHAT HAPPENED?
If you were that 1% in college who actually read The Metamorphosis from cover to cover, this paragraph will be more informationally satisfying. Lew Wentz and Gordon Matzene donated 750 objects to the University of Oklahoma, which prompted the founding of the Museum of Art in 1936. Oscar Jacobson (aw, remember him? If you missed the opening last night, come check out his stuff any time between now and early September!), the first director of the University’s School of Art, was appointed to be the director of the museum. By 1936, Jacobson had already collected over 2,500 works of art for OU. The new museum’s first galleries were housed in what is now Jacobson Hall (a.k.a. the Visitors Center). In 1948, Jacobson bolstered the collection with the purchase of the State Department Collection, comprised of 36 paintings from the exhibition Advancing American Art and including major works by artists such as Stuart Davis, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Edward Hopper. Jacobson’s vision of a permanent facility to house the art was finally achieved in 1971, when Mr. and Mrs. Fred Jones of Oklahoma City donated a fine arts building to the university in memory of their son, Fred Jones, Jr., who tragically died in a plane crash during his senior year at OU. A lot has happened since the Fred Jones Jr. Memorial Art Center was built in 1971. We’ve gone from that original 15,000 square feet of exhibition space to approximately 40,000 square feet!
HOW ABOUT SOME NEWS FROM THIS DECADE?
In 2005, the museum opened a new addition, designed by acclaimed architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen of Washington, D.C. The Lester Wing features galleries, a 150-seat auditorium, an orientation room, a classroom, a museum store, and a new main entrance. The original 1971 building was completely renovated and a new 18,000 square-foot expansion project was implemented to create the Stuart Wing, which opened in October 2011. Noted Oklahoma City architect Rand Elliott designed the Stuart Wing.
REPEAT AFTER ME…
WHAT TO DO WHEN MC HAMMER IS STUCK IN YOUR HEAD…
Visit an art museum. It’s really the best song to sing while wandering through the halls of expensive and delicate artwork. You know the one I’m referring to. If you’re tactile-curious (like me) and need a little help, we certainly won’t judge you if we hear ‘na nana na, na na, na na, CAN’T TOUCH THIS’ being muttered under your breath. If you accidently get that song mixed up with Mariah Carey’s Touch My Body, don’t be surprised when a staff member chokes on their coffee and intervenes as if you were kidnapping their child. We aren’t being mean. Even WE can’t touch the artwork without wearing special gloves. Just pretend the artwork is a girl you’re taking out on a date with her ex-Marine father as chaperone.
WHAT TO SAY WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW WHICH EXHIBITIONS TO LOOK AT…
All is fair in love and war. If you’re looking for some love, go check out our LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana. It was donated to us by 1957 OU alumnus William Obering. Visit it outside Jacobson Hall (the OU Visitors Center). If you’re more interested in the war side of things, check out Beyond the Battlefield: Depictions of War. It’s only up until May 10, 2015. The exhibition is being presented in conjunction with the OU School of Drama’s performance of Quiara Alegria Hudes’ one-act play, Eliot, a Soldier’s Fugue. Click here for more information about times and dates. (Note: by ‘dates’ we are referring to the calendar day. If you need a date to accompany you to the performance, you will have to look elsewhere.)
THINGS TO KNOW
Bialac: Not two lilacs. The Bialac collection was received in 2010 from James T. Bialac. It is one of the most important private collections of Native American art in the country—and it continues to grow, due to Mr. Bialac’s generosity.
Adkins: Not a fad diet. The Eugene B. Adkins Collection of Southwest and Native American Art consists of about 3,300 objects. We’ve shared it with the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa since 2007, winning us the Best Sharers on the Playground Award for eight years running.
Fleischaker: Say that 10 times fast. In 1996, with an initial gift of $1 million from Mrs. Fred Jones, OU President David L. Boren and Molly Shi Boren spearheaded the successful fundraising campaign to acquire the important collection of the late Richard H. and Adeline J. Fleischaker, which is composed primarily of Native American and Southwestern art.
Check back next week for riveting descriptions of our other collections.
artists born several years ago this week.
2/22 Eric Gill, Rembrant Peale | 2/23 Franz von Stuck, George Frederic Watts, Kazimir Malevich, Tom Wesselmann | 2/24 Charles Le Brun, Mattia Preti, Richard Hamilton, Winslow Homer | 2/25 Giuseppe De Nittis, Pierre-Auguste, Renoir | 2/26 Honore Daumier | 2/27 Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, Marino Marini | 2/28 Frank Gehry, John Tenniel | 2/29 Balthus