From the Director

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Jon Seydl, director of Krannert Art Museum
Jon Seydl, director of Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2018. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer.

 

 

One of my great joys this fall was seeing how Illinois students responded so enthusiastically to our new initiatives, intended to make KAM a place not just for their learning but also their well-being.

Anne Sautman and her education team launched the inaugural KAM Fest, which capped off Welcome Week with an amazing party at the museum, complete with tacos, screenprinting, a pop-up student art exhibition, student bands, and 1,200 students filling the galleries looking at art. We launched a free student membership program, already cresting 600 members; we’ve brought on eight new curatorial interns; and I’m encouraged by the strong response to our new student volunteer educator program.

And great programs! In particular, Erica Gressman’s brave debut performance of Limbs, which packed the Rosann Gelvin Noel Gallery with 350 people, was a thrilling example of our continued commitment to performance art in KAM’s galleries and highlighted a new partnership with La Estación Gallery in the department of Latina/Latino Studies.

2019 promises exciting things as well. In February, Allyson Purpura presents historical Indian paintings from the collection, emphasizing how these works were meant to be passed from hand to hand—connecting and sharing stories between people. And Amy L. Powell gives us a preview of great things ahead for the modern and contemporary collection with Emphatic: American Painting from the Collection. Then, in April the performance artist Autumn Knight returns to KAM to present her 2017 work, Documents, coinciding with the publication of a book of essays on Knight’s work, edited by Amy L. Powell. And throughout the semester, visitors can enjoy a novel installation of our European and American holdings prior to 1948, experimenting with new juxtapositions by curator Maureen Warren. Renaissance to Modern Remix is on view all season in the Rosann Gelvin Noel Gallery.

A new fundraiser launches in May focused on art acquisitions, in which you can vote on ways to build the art collection. And while I know that summer has historically been a quiet time at Krannert Art Museum, the enthusiastic reaction to our community-based summer programming last year has us cooking up more summertime plans, so keep an eye on our website for what’s ahead.

One last thing: over the last few months, a museum-wide team has been looking at how we can create an even more welcoming environment for everyone. We’re taking a look at everything we do, from wayfinding and parking to the visitor services we provide. Be prepared for some construction as we get started, for example by making our restrooms fully accessible. We’ve already signaled upcoming changes with bold new graphics on the front door and a stellar new lobby desk (designed by Navillus in Chicago). We hope these transformations make everyone feel welcome at KAM.

Let me know what you think,

Jon L. Seydl, Director

Spring 2019