Art museum to be completed next month

Museum construction was primarily funded through donations


Courtesy of Anna-Maria Shannon

The museum will be completed in December, but will not open until the art is installed in April.

KATIE SHADLER, Evergreen reporter

A dream 40 years in the making, the new Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, also known as “The Crimson Cube,” will add 10,000 square feet and six new exhibition spaces to the WSU Museum of Art, housing new and old collections.

The designer of the building, Jim Olson of Olson Kundig Designs, said looking at the building encourages students to see themselves and the world around them in a new way.

“When students see themselves reflected in this building,” he said, “they’ll see their lives through the lens of art.”

Because of the small space, the museum’s permanent collection of 3,800 pieces is primarily held in a vault in the WSU Museum of Art. Debby Stinson, marketing and public relations manager for the museum, said one of the new exhibition halls, the Great Hall, will house this collection and will be rotated throughout the year.

Stinson said the curators are very picky about what comes in, and most pieces are donated. She said they’ve only purchased one piece in the 10 years she’s been at WSU. The curators seek out artists and exhibitions from all over the world to voice current issues that are likely to affect campus.

“Our purpose is to show art,” she said. “Our bigger purpose … is to have transformational art experiences for campus, students, faculty, staff and visitors.”

She said there’s a perception that the museum is just for art students, but in actuality, students in many different majors participate in exhibits.

A recent exhibit at Carpenter Hall showcased art from the museum, photos from the School of Design and Construction and dresses from Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles. Other art has incorporated math and biology, playing with numbers and plants.

“You can use art to illustrate a point,” she said.

Though construction on the project will be done in December, the transportation and display of the art will take months, and the building won’t open until April 6.

Anna-Maria Shannon, interim director of the museum, said private donors, including $5 million from Jordan Schnitzer and the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, funded the $15-million building almost entirely. Former WSU President Elson S. Floyd required them to raise $11 million of the total privately, and they are currently $700,000 away from that goal, which they expect to reach in the next year or two.

Shannon said anyone who donates $500 or more will get a plaque in the building. She said they have tried twice in the past to build a new museum, but funding was an issue.

After facing identity and visibility issues with only having one gallery for the past 40 years, curator Zach Mazur said they are excited to bring the public together and educate them about larger issues.

“What we offer in terms of quality, we lack in visibility,” he said. “I believe the physical presence of a new, visible space will assist in helping us expand our outreach on campus and serve as a beacon for the arts.

A full list of the first exhibitions can be found on the museum’s website.