University art collection to be incorporated into new Broad museum

The Kresge Art Museum will close after the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum opens in April 2012, but the university art collection will not be left out of the new museum’s exhibitions, which will give historical context to its modern art focus.

Michael Rush, director of the Broad Art Museum, said the focus of the new museum will be on modern and contemporary art, which includes works of art from 1945 and beyond. But the university art collection — currently displayed in the Kresge Art Museum — also will be absorbed by the new museum, he said.

“Often, the contemporary art that you see on exhibit will be side by side to a work of the (university) collection,” Rush said, adding some pieces of the university’s collection date back to fifth century B.C. “The historical works will help provide a historical guide to the contemporary art.”

Rush said he will invite curators to curate exhibitions from the university’s collection of works on paper, which includes photographs, prints and all other artwork made on paper as opposed to canvas. Other modern art exhibits will be built around works from the current MSU collection placed in a contemporary context, he said.

Okemos resident and local artist Nell Corkin formerly volunteered as a docent at the Kresge Art Museum. She said she is concerned the university collection largely will be put into storage once the Broad Art Museum opens and only will be open to scholars or students doing research.

MSU’s collection is one of the only nearby locations with a wide-spreading art collection spanning nearly every century, with art including Roman coins, Greek vases and Japanese and Chinese pieces, Corkin said.

“I was an art history major, and I think art is important,” she said. “The Kresge (Art Museum) has a very nice collection, and I just think it’s a shame to stick it away.”

Rush said the university collection contains more than 7,000 objects and at any given time, there are a maximum of about 100 displayed at the Kresge Art Museum — about 2 percent of the collection, he said.

He said the staff at the Broad museum will respect the historical value of the art and incorporate it into the new museum.

“I realize that many people have a deep affection for the collection, and indeed they should,” Rush said. “The collection is going to be used in dynamic ways — it’s not going to be hid away in storage.”

Art history and visual culture junior Kinga Krisztian said it’s been convenient to have the Kresge Art Museum connected to the Kresge Art Center because many professors would take students next door to show them some of the art, but the new museum will be bigger and have more to offer.

She also said the university’s collection is impressive and has pieces that typically could be found only in bigger museums.

Although the Kresge Art Museum will be closing, the Kresge Art Center will stay open and continue to be used for art classes and studio space, said Michelle Word, teaching and outreach specialist for the Department of Art & Art History.

The new museum’s focus is on more recent art, but Word said modern and contemporary art exhibits maintain a historical aspect.

Word said many art students already are required to visit art exhibits in the Kresge Art Museum, and the Broad Art Museum will have “nothing but a positive impact” on the department.

“There will be increased access to contemporary art, which is something that is invaluable for our students,” she said.

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