Diverse collection, BCMA highlights new acquisitions spanning countries and centuries – The Bowdoin Orient

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IN WITH THE NEW: Curator Cassandra Braun presents drawings by Argentinian artist Josefina Auslandera on Thursday as part of the museum’s new acquisitions event. The museum is introducing 400 new works to its collection as curators seek to diversify what has always been a Eurocentric collection.

The Bowdoin College Museum of Art (BCMA) yesterday showcased its new acquisitions in the Zuckert Seminar Room to members of campus and the community. The works discussed by curatorial staff spanned decades and came from as far away as Uruguay to Cape Elizabeth.

By acquiring around 400 new pieces this year, the museum’s curatorial staff have attempted to diversify the museum’s collection of over 25,000 works to include pieces that fall outside of traditional representation. Curator Cassandra Mesick Braun, who joined the BCMA team this fall from the University of Kansas, noted that this year’s acquisitions have brought greater representation among women artists, Indigenous artists and artists of color, challenging the standards under which the museum has historically operated.

“The museum was founded with this amazing collection of art in the Euro-American setting, but throughout its history it has strengths in more typically Western art forms,” Braun said. “We think very carefully about the types of artists who have been generally underrepresented or misrepresented in museums.”

At the event, Braun and other curatorial staff each presented one or two pieces that represent the diverse range of new acquisitions. Braun spoke of a set of sculpted panels by Italian artist Lott Torrelli depicting scenes from “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, which Braun says connects Harriet Beecher Stowe’s writing of the novel in Brunswick to the movement. international abolitionist. Braun also highlighted a set of three drawings by Argentine artist Josefina Auslander, who completed this work in the 1970s during Argentina’s Dirty War, an era politically fraught with civilian disappearances.

“I’m really excited about these drawings because they show an area where the museum has tried to expand with contemporary Latin American art, and a lot of what we have in Latin American art right now is from male artists, so she adds that female perspective,” Braun said.

BCMA co-director Frank Goodyear highlighted an image of a Chicago shoe shine shop by photojournalist Mickey Ferrell, which he says is now the first work by a black photographer in the collection.

“In acquisitions, we try to balance contemporary and historical, Western and non-Western, and bring works from all media,” said Frank Goodyear.

Post-Baccalaureate Curatorial Assistant Sabrina Lin ’21, who takes on the lead role of event planning for the BCMA, said this is just one of many events the Museum has undertaken to attempt to educate members of the community about his works. This year’s student night at the BCMA saw record attendance, with 800 students in attendance. Many students have also engaged with Bowdoin professors and outside scholars in lectures at the Museum, and classes often use the Zuckert Seminar Room to view work in tandem with course syllabi. Art history major Emily Jacobs ’23 noted her excitement that the museum has been so accessible to students and community members, especially during its post-Covid reopening.

“Having the museum available and open to the community is probably the best part of having it on campus,” Jacobs said.

BCMA co-director Anne Goodyear noted that opening up the museum – to both students and Brunswick residents, who made up the vast majority of event attendees – is one of her favorite aspects of working on such a small campus.

“We have a lot of students and community members here and that’s one of the things I love about the museum,” Anne Goodyear said. “One of the most important things the fine arts do is give us the opportunity to come together as a community.”

About Bernice D. Brewer

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