This year, the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art will be celebrating its 25th year displaying exhibitions here on campus. Throughout past years, the museum has seen tremendous growth as well as increased community involvement. With student and staff participation, boosted publicity, and a number of artistic displays, Oglethorpe University’s museum will continue to flourish culturally and aesthetically.
Many of the permanent pieces and temporary shows at the museum relate to social and cultural topics of interest, both within our current community and past societies. As the artwork comes and goes, the installations bring diverse groups of people together and spark discussion on topics that may not be as prominent on a college campus.
“I think the museum brings a different perspective to Oglethorpe and also brings insight into fine art and culture to the students,” said Mimi Vanderlinde, a Cultural Anthropology major at Oglethorpe University.
The museum includes a selection of artwork that links with classes in the Core program at Oglethorpe. Courses such as French, Ecology, Feminist Media Studies, and many more can be represented through various pieces of art that is displayed in the museum’s Skylight Gallery.
“I love the potential for the museum to be the pinnacle of our liberal arts tradition here,” said Dr. Karen L. Schmeichel, professor of biology at Oglethorpe University. “So much of what we talk about in our Core curriculum at Oglethorpe is symbolized by the various artwork that are on our walls from time to time.”
Dr. Schmeichel, who is also on the board of trustees to improve the connectivity between the museum and interest in the sciences, believes that the artistic association with the Core program is an essential aspect for students. The connection helps foster a deeper understanding of Core classes through a visual representation of topics discussed in classrooms.
However, Dr. Schmeichel does not believe that Oglethorpe’s museum should settle here. “I think there’s more to be done here, I think we can do more with our Core curriculum to make this a place where it all lands – where it all kind of comes together.”
Students and staff such as Vanderlinde and Dr. Schmeichel also hope to see the museum improve in terms of its community outreach. By connecting the Atlanta community, the Oglethorpe Museum of Art will attract more donations, installments, and visitors.
“From a Georgia Tech student’s perspective, I believe that the museum brings in inherent value to the Atlanta student community,” said Freddy Hackney, an undergraduate student at Georgia Tech. “Art and non-art students, such as myself, have the ability to see Oglethorpe’s internationally recognized exhibits, and explore there societal and cultural implications. Exploring artistic works and reading about their history allows me to think critically and broadly over a subject which I normally deal very little with as an engineering major which when combined with a safe, relaxing environment, brings an escape from the analytical world.”
The artwork displayed at Oglethorpe’s museum has the capabilities to benefit far beyond its campus. By increasing the outreach to the community and other college campuses, even more visitors can enjoy cultural statements from Matisse, Picasso, and many other artists in an intimate location.
“The art that’s on display is helping us understand something,” said Dr. Schmeichel. “Its bringing multiple factions together so that we can see it as something bigger than just the individual pieces on the wall.”