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  March 12, 2001

Two-Day Symposium to Take Up Debate
on Social Function of Art Museums

What is a museum's responsibility to the art community and the public? Two panels of artists, critics, art historians and curators will discuss this hotly debated question during "Exhibiting the Museum," a symposium sponsored by the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Master Artists and Scholars Institute, to take place on March 30 and 31.

"It is the intention of the department of art and art history to contribute to the important ongoing debate concerning the social function and effect of museums in our changing world," says Saul Ostrow, associate professor of art and director of the Center for Visual Art and Culture.

"This event is of great significance because the issues of institutional patronage and of ethnicity in relation to museums have impact on the general public as well as on professionals in the arts and related fields," adds David Woods, dean of the School of Fine Arts.

The symposium begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 30 with a keynote address from New York Times art critic Roberta Smith, who caused a stir in the art world with a recent article, "Memo to Art Museums: Don't Give Up On Art." In her keynote address, to take place in the GenRe Auditorium at the Stamford campus, Smith will critically examine recent trends in museum exhibition practices and will address the critical and public responses to her article.

On Saturday, March 31, the symposium will continue at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the Storrs campus, beginning at 9:45 a.m. During the first panel, "Contesting Identity: The Museum and Ethnicity," participants will discuss how culturally specific institutions function and how their exhibition policies reflect and affect their communities. Norman Kleeblatt, curator of fine arts at The Jewish Museum; Judith Wilson, assistant professor of African-American studies at the University of California, Irvine; and Simon Leung, an artist based in New York and Los Angeles, will be panelists. Anne D'Alleva, assistant professor of art and art history and women's studies at UConn, will be the moderator.

The second panel, "The Artist and the Museum: Treasure House and/or Patron," will address the pressure museums place on artists to perform in specific ways, which affects the conditions of production for artists. The panelists include Lynne Cooke, curator at the DIA Art Center; Alan Wallach, the Ralph H. Wark professor of art and art history and a professor of American studies at the College of William and Mary; and Maureen Connor, a professor of sculpture at Queens College. Charles Hagen, associate professor of photography, art and art history at UConn, will moderate.

Robert Storr, senior curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, will deliver closing remarks.

The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Master Artists and Scholars Institute of the School of Fine Arts was founded in 1999. Its purpose is to provide the School of Fine Arts with the opportunity to initiate the exchange of ideas between the school's faculty and students and renowned artists and scholars. Known as Sackler Scholars, these distinguished guests participate in workshops, seminars and symposia, and create new works in collaboration with the various departments of the School of Fine Arts. Raymond Sackler and his wife, Beverly, are international philanthropists whose generosity has made the Institute and this event possible.

The two-day event is free and open to the public.

Allison Thompson