Museum director, American Arts professor partner to give students a unique museum experience


Tanat Maichan

Chuck Purviance is a student in Realism/ Activism/ American Arts class. He wants to teach artist when he gets his degree.

With 42 years of museum experience, Robert Workman, Director of the Ulrich Museum of Art, is passionate about everything the arts have to offer.

Workman has teamed up with Brittany Lockard, Assistant Professor of Art History and Creative Industries, to teach a class about the significance of modern art this semester.

The 500-level Realism, Activism and American Arts class focuses not only on the physical works themselves, but on the process of designing museum exhibitions.

The first eight weeks of the semester consist of lectures, readings and discussions led by Lockard. Afterwards, the students will work alongside Workman to bring an exhibition to life in the Ulrich museum.

Workman said he is confident that his work with Lockard on a similar task last year will help to ensure that all goes well this semester.

Last year, students did not get a chance to work with art from the Ulrich’s collection, something that will change this semester.

“Now we get a similar experience, but we are using art from our collections which is a much truer museum kind of experience.”

For most of the students, this class will be their first chance to work with professionals in the art world.

“This will be my first time for a lot of stuff,” Chuck Purviance, a first year graduate student said. “I’m excited to see the behind-the-scenes of the Ulrich Museum and to experience what the curators get to do.”

Because the class is run differently than an average art class and includes both undergraduate and graduate students, Lockard said that she and Workman hope everyone involved can benefit from going through the process.

“It is very unusual, especially at the undergraduate level to get actual hands-on experience working in a museum,” Lockard said. “They get to handle art, design an exhibition and work on labels.”

Workman, who was employed by the museum as a student, said he is excited to give students a taste of what working in a museum is really like.

“I really believe in applied learning,” Workman said. “It’s not unusual for a class to create an exhibition in theory or with imagination, but it’s different when you’re actually bringing it to life — and that’s what they’ll be doing.”

The exhibition will be on view from Jan. 20 to March 25 of 2018 with an opening reception for the public on Jan. 20 from 7 to 9 p.m. Museum admission is free.

“The best honor that could happen is if one of them ends up working in a museum,” Workman said. “But I hope they all can trace back to this exhibition some inspiration.”