The Lowe Dedicates New Art Research Center to Hands-On Learning

The new Stella M. Holmes Art Research Center (ARC) was officially dedicated in the heart of the College of Arts & Sciences’ Lowe Art Museum last Thursday, giving UM students even more unique opportunities for hands-on learning about the museum’s world-class collection.

‌“The Art Research Center will allow student curators in ArtLab to see and feel artifacts from the cultures they are studying more intimately than ever before,” said Holmes, a UM alumna and supporter whose generosity launched the museum’s innovative ArtLab series in 2009. “First-hand experience is a very valuable tool in museum studies programs, because it helps students to understand the soul of the art through investigation of its origins.”

From left: College of Arts & Sciences Dean Leonidas Bachas, Sergio Gonzalez, Senior Vice President for University Advancement and External Affairs, UM President Donna E. Shalala, UM alumna Stella Holmes, Lowe Art Museum Beaux Arts Director Jill Deupi, and Senior Director of Development Adriana F. Verdeja.

The ARC’s walls are lined with built-in, museum-grade display cases that showcase a variety of objects, while smart technology makes the most of electronic resources and the Internet. More cases line the corridor adjacent to a classroom, engaging visitors before they enter the ARC. The area also has been redesigned to allow a direct view into the Lowe’s object storage, allowing guests to see a large number of pieces that are not currently on display. Designed for active learning, the ARC will host enhanced programming for all of the Lowe’s visitors.

“It’s a new capstone in our educational offerings,” said Jill Deupi, Beaux Arts director and chief curator. “We are thrilled with the ARC, which allows us to continue to expand and enhance our capacity to engage directly with our audiences.”

Home to a world-class collection of nearly 19,000 objects spanning 5,000 years of human history, the Lowe has long been committed to providing opportunities for the firsthand experience of works of art and enrichment of the community through education about arts and culture.

The phenomenal success of ArtLab, which touches the students involved, the Lowe’s 40,000 visitors each year, and countless others who access digital copies of the catalogs online, inspired the Lowe and Holmes to create the ARC, allowing even greater interaction and experience with the museum’s remarkable cultural and educational assets.

Led by a UM faculty member, ArtLab participants spend a full academic year delving into designated themes, which have included Spanish Colonial Art, the art of indigenous Panama, the convergence of Eastern and Western ideas in contemporary Japanese art, differing points of view in Islamic art, and the history of printmaking.

In addition to the direct study of objects in the Lowe’s collections, ArtLab students enjoy off-site immersive experiences, which in the past have included field research in Panama and Peru.

ArtLab culminates each spring with the curation and installation of a focus exhibition and a companion catalog authored by the students. This show remains on view in a prominent gallery in the Lowe (the Richard B. Bermont Family Focus Gallery) for a full year, allowing museum visitors to learn from participants’ investigative efforts.

In addition to Holmes’ generosity, support for the ARC was provided by Beaux Arts, the Rubin – Ladd Foundation, the Jensen Endowment, and the Coleman Foundation.

February 23, 2015