ASU Art Museum

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Founded in 1950, ASU Art Museum has grown over the years to become a leading contemporary art museum. ASU Art Museum is an embodiment of the university’s scholarly, experimental and educative nature, priding itself as an institution that looks at things from an equity and social-justice lens. It harnesses ASU’s depth and breadth of expertise, pioneering new art models for innovation, engagement, and learning, while integrating relevance, trust, and resilience throughout the community it serves.

Functioning as an interactive beacon, this is a space where ideas and practice methods meet, creating a delicate and prudent balance that captures the sense of safety and stability. The museum’s design is hand-cut, curated using two print-making styles; screen and woodcut printing. The interior text is made from hardwood birch-ply that was proof-pressed through a Vandercook Letterpress from the early 1940s. the lintel and post shell was created using hand-cut film and paper stencils on a 30-year-old printing press. The combination of both mediums created a staple within the state’s art canon, articulating a sense of urgency, while placing an emphasis on the importance of democratic distribution.

The Art Museum is located within the Herberger Institute for Design and Arts at Tempe’s Arizona state University (led by Steven Tepper, the institute’s dean). Home to over 6,000 students, the mission of ASU Art Museum is advancing the New American University by way of embedding artists, designers, and art-based inquiry throughout the local, national, and international community it serves.

The museum’s history dates back to 1950 when works towards its founding started. It started out with a collection of significant gifts of Mexican and American masterpieces bought by Oliver B. James. in a 5-year duration, Oliver donated approximately 150 works of art, including stunning paintings from renowned artists such as Georgia O’ Keeffe, Diego Rivera, and Edward Hopper. Famously known as the ‘James Collection’, these pieces connect the entire Arizona community to masterpieces from across the globe that could only be found in larger metropolitan regions previously.

From 1965 to 1992, the museum expanded exponentially, under the guidance of director Rudy Turk, with important acquisitions in American craft, contemporary American ceramics, and other forms of print. Back then, crafts and print were often overlooked by numerous art institutions. However, Turk changed the ‘status quo’, becoming one of the first ever museum directors to champion craft and prints. Turk devoted a significant number of resources to these two disciplines. In 1989, the museum moved to its present-day location at the Nelson Fine Arts Center on the western end of ASU Tempe Campus.

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