Western’s Master in Gallery Management & Exhibits Specialization offers a flexible, yet rigorous curriculum of study for students who wish to enter into or currently work in the expanding professional world of art gallery management and exhibits specialization. The program integrates students’ previous, related academic studies and their interests in the business of the art world, to prepare highly employable, broadly and experientially trained art gallery and art museum professionals.
Developing the MGES Program has been a four-year process, led by Art Department Chair and Professor, and MGES Program Director, Dr. Heather Orr. Shortly after accepting the Chair position in 2012, Orr began a conversation within the department to offer a masters program. With significant research assistance from Art alumnus, Natalie Kuenzi, and Art Department Gallery Director, Thaddeus Smith, the program has come to fruition.
“The idea is to take their training to the next level of professionalism,” said Orr. “We wanted to create a very flexible program that would allow those who are already out there in the work world, or who already have commitments, to be able to get a professional masters and go on to professional positions in that sector, without putting their lives on hold.”
The program is moving forward to its pilot year in Fall 2016, thanks in part to a gift from the estate of Western graduates August and Loretto Grosland. The couple were longtime supporters and benefactors. Gus Grosland taught Art at Western from 1949 – 1979 and Loretto graduated from Western in 1950.
Ethel Rice, who served as a librarian at Western for thirty-six years, and secured the conservation of the University’s art collection, was instrumental in the development of the MGES program. Rice collaborated with Dr. Orr to secure funding for a visiting professorship and four student scholarships from the Grosland fund.
This Grosland fund has made it possible to attract world-renowned faculty in the pilot year. Dr. Orr, program director, is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Jeffrey Taylor as the Grosland Associate Director for the Master in Gallery Management and Exhibits Specialization.
“Dr. Taylor is a very high profile and well-respected scholar, researcher and professional,” said Orr. “He brings a wealth of experience with him to his position, and we are thrilled to have him.”
Taylor has nearly 20 years of experience in the art business and has been teaching the subject for almost a decade. Before joining Western, Taylor was an assistant professor of arts management at the State University of New York (SUNY), Purchase College. He has also taught arts management at the International Business School of Budapest.
In addition to teaching, Taylor maintains a private practice as an art appraiser and an art forensics specialist in New York. He holds the title of Certified Appraiser of Impressionist and Modern Art, which is the highest level of expertise an appraiser can attain, and there are only 27 Certified Appraisers of Impressionism and Modern worldwide. His private practice includes an art forensics lab for analyzing art forgeries and authenticity and attribution issues. The lab was recently the subject of an article in the Wall Street Journal. This summer Taylor has been serving as the Leon Levy Fellow at the Frick Collection's Center for the History of Collecting where he's researching Global Secessions.
The purposefully small inaugural incoming class also brings a wealth of experience in arts management and diverse perspectives. The students hail from across the United States, with backgrounds across the arts spectrum, and even beyond it.
The Grosland Student Scholarship recipients are:
The structure of this program allows its students the freedom and flexibility to achieve their goals. After a two-week summer intensive, held in Gunnison and the surrounding areas, the students will return to their homes and current occupations, taking their coursework online. The following summer the students will participate in an internship at a gallery or museum of their choosing. It can be completed in 15 months full time, or over two to four years part time.
During the summer intensive this year, the MGES students have the opportunity to work with the AR Mitchell Museum of Western Art in Trinidad, Colo. The Mitchell home to collections of Western art, Native American artifacts, Hispanic folk art, and the most important collection of AR Mitchell’s work. Mitchell, the “King of Western Pulp Cover Illustrators”, was one of the most influential cowboy artists of his time, documenting life in the West through cover illustrations on books and magazines, and landscape paintings of ranches across Northern New Mexico and Southeastern Colorado.
Like all rural museums, the Mitchell has struggled with attendance and attracting professionals to work with their collections. This is where the MGES program comes in. The MGES students will work on-site at the Mitchell as the first part of their summer residency from August 7-19. With the limited access to the Quigley Gallery because of building renovations, the partnership could not come at a better time.
“The partnership between the MGES and the AR Mitchell provides a wonderful symbiotic relationship, said Orr. “Our students have the experience of undertaking an intensive practicum project, that builds their portfolio through service and experiential learning, and the AR Mitchell Museum benefits from the combined expertise of our faculty, staff and students (many of whom already have solid gallery and museum training), and the final exhibit project.”
After returning from the Mitchell Museum, the students will install the first gallery show in the Quigley Gallery. The $25.8 million renovation gives the new students an opportunity to work in a state-of-the-art, professional gallery space. The first professional exhibit to be displayed by the Masters students will feature the sculptures of Western Department of Art alumnus Bryson Darnel, and antique Japanese prints in the collection of Western Foundation benefactor, Ethel Rice.
The gallery will be maintained year round by two student gallery managers, one undergraduate and one graduate. The undergraduate manager is Western Art Senior, Delaney Adrian, and the graduate is MGES student and Western Art department alum, Torrie Nickel.
In May 2016 Nickel completed her Bachelor of Arts degrees in Recreation and Outdoor Education and Art, with a minor in English. She received Western’s Alumni Award for Excellence Award, the highest honor a graduating senior can receive. She is also a Grosland Student Scholarship recipient, and the gift made it possible for her to attend the program.
“It was one of those poignant factors on which a whole life direction depends. From here on out, the scholarship will have played a critical role in every job and experience I will have related to this degree. It has and will have a tremendous impact on my life,” said Nickel.
Nickel is also a critical representative of the MGES Program, as Dr. Orr and MGES instructor Thaddeus Smith chose her as a WSCU Ambassador to the College Art Association Conference in Washington D.C. After this role, Nickel will return to the area next summer to begin an internship at the National Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Students who graduate with a Master in Gallery & Exhibits Specialization are prepared for such positions as gallery manager or director, arts administrator, art sales or marketing associate, exhibits specialist or preparator, curatorial assistant, program and collections planner, and outreach coordinator. Skills acquired in this program also translate to jobs in many other areas of the art world or small-business management.