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‘Transformative arts experience’

ROSEMARIE BLUME | Evergreen reporter

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After years of restriction to just one gallery, where curators have trouble attaining a diverse array of art, WSU’s $15 million Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art building will open in spring 2018.

“I think we feel that we’ve come to the point where we have grown out of the space of our current building,” Curator Ryan Hardesty said.

The new building, which takes the place of the old WSU Police station on the Glenn Terrell Friendship Mall, will have six galleries, allowing the museum to host multiple shows at a time and create a “transformative arts experience across campus,” Interim Director Anna-Maria Shannon said.

“One gallery can’t promote across other academic units,” she said.

Hardesty said he is hopeful the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art will open on Mom’s Weekend in April 2018, and he is working on getting pieces from the Bill and Ruth True collection, Seattle-based ceramic artist Jeffry Mitchell, contemporary Seneca Tribe/Euro-American artist Marie Watt and the Jordan Schnitzer collection.

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“It’s very important that we represent real humanity and real connection, which we haven’t been able to do,” Shannon said.

In the pavilion, the largest gallery space, the museum will host sound artist Gerhard Trimpin from Seattle, Hardesty said. The museum purchased the work for that specific space.

“One of the things I’m most excited about is having a variety of more galleries to work with,” Hardesty said.

In addition to hosting shows, the museum will be able to hold events for departments, like the Feast of the Arts for WSU’s Hospitality Business Management department, said Debby Stinson, marketing and personal relations manager.

Shannon said the museum has managed to pay for about two-thirds of the museum’s cost with donations, $5 million of which came from the museum’s namesake, Jordan Schnitzer. The university is covering the rest of the costs through the Office of the Provost’s budget, which the museum will work to pay back.

“Our donors are incredible,” Shannon said.

The WSU Museum of Art program is not funded by the state, she said, but Shannon is worried that the gradual decrease in state funding for the university and Trump’s threat to cut funding for arts programs will impact them

“We’ve watched our state [financial] support drop and drop and drop and drop, and then we got to pay,” Shannon said, “and prices go up and up and up and up.”

Stinson said Shannon has been working in her position for 15 years to keep the museum running.

“Anna-Maria [Shannon] keeps us here and keeps us growing without getting us in the red,” Stinson said.

The old Museum of Art building will turn into a vault/classroom space for the 3,500 items in the museum’s permanent collection, Shannon said.

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“We’ve been told construction should be wrapping up a little over a year [from] now and keys should be [given] to staff by Christmas or early next [semester],” Hardesty said.

The new building is one of the first steps for the WSU Museum of Art organization to become accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, Shannon said.

She said the museum’s six-person staff will be working all summer to fill out the necessary paperwork to become a part of the American Alliance of Museums and get ready for the museum’s opening in the spring semester of 2018.

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‘Transformative arts experience’