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University Art Museum Records

M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives

Inclusive Date: 1967-1993

State University of New York at Albany. University Art Museum

3.33 cubic ft.


Records of the Art Museum that was built on UAlbany's Uptown Campus with the support of Governor Nelson Rockefeller.

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Collection Details

Processed in 2016 by Mary-Margaret Giannini.

The materials are located onsite in the department.

The University Art Museum was officially opened and dedicated on October 5, 1967 as the University Art Gallery. However, its antecedents have been traced to at least 1929 when the State College News reported that the Art Department was sponsoring an exhibit of the work of Flemish artists. [1] While a formal gallery or exhibit place did not exist, the Art Department frequently sponsored such events, displaying art work in the hallways of the second and third floors of the Draper building as well often mounting exhibits in room 207 of Draper. In 1957, under the guidance and jurisdiction of Edward Cowley,who joined the art faculty in 1951 and served as head of the Art Department from 1955 to 1975, the Draper Gallery became an official entity. Existing simply as a room on the third floor of the Draper building in which lights and panels were installed, the Gallery nonetheless had an important function in supporting and enhancing the curriculum of the Art Department. Such a space not only allowed students to exhibit their own work but also enhanced the opportunity for them, as well as for members of the community, to be exposed to the work of local and regional artists. [2]

As a part of the new university campus, space in the Fine Arts Building was designated for an art gallery, which was officially opened in the Fall of 1967. The University Art Gallery was intended as a forum for contemporary art in the area. The "the initial exhibitions of the University Art Gallery, notably Nelson Rockefeller's collections and subsequent faculty shows, brought contemporary art of national and international significance to the Albany art public."[3] Furthermore, it has been argued that Rockefeller and the gallery's first director, Donald Mochon "had a vision of a gallery that would become a national show place for contemporary art of a regional, national and international stature."[4]

In 1971 the University Art Gallery, in conjunction with the Schenectady Museum and the Albany Institute of History and Art, enhanced its reputation as a forum for regional artists with the creation of the Mohawk-Hudson Regional Exhibit. Replacing the Artists of the Upper Hudson Exhibit which had been sponsored for over 35 years by the Albany Institute of History and Art, and the Schenectady Regional Exhibit which had been held at the Schenectady Museum for 16 years, the Mohawk-Hudson Regional Exhibit rotated among each sponsoring institution, each setting a different theme for the given exhibit that year.

Following the precedent set in the '20's, the University Art Gallery initially existed as a unit of the Art Department, but from the beginning it enjoyed a considerable amount of administrative and artistic freedom. Edward Cowley stated that he and Donald Mochan agreed that while the Gallery was a unit of the Art Department, its needs were not necessarily synonymous with those of an academic department. They decided that for the Gallery to be an efficient and effective body, it needed a degree of autonomy to operate and make its own policy decisions. Nonetheless, staff members from the Art Gallery played an integral role in the workings of the Art Department, attending faculty meetings and participating in policy decisions. [5]

The partial autonomy of the Art Museum from the Art Department was regularized in the mid- 1970's when the Art Gallery began reporting directly to the Dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts. As of 1993, the University Art Museum reports to Dean of the newly created College of Arts and Sciences. The Gallery and subsequently Museum continue to work closely with the Art Department. It plays a role in the M.A. and M.F.A. programs by exhibiting student's final exhibitions. Furthermore, the Art Museum staff often responds to the Art Department's standing invitation for their attendance at Department faculty meetings. Both the Art Museum and the Art Department use such meetings as an opportunity to share, discuss and coordinate their artistic efforts for the University at Albany, SUNY. [6]

In the 1991-1992 academic year the Gallery changed its name to the University Art Museum. [7] In doing so, the Museum has been able to better reflect its role as a space not only for the temporary exhibit of work, but also as a repository for a permanent collection. The educational role of the Art Museum made plain in its mission statement.

"The primary mission of the University Art Museum is public service and education which supports the core curriculum. The museum is a place for the exhibition of art and artifacts that reflect the diversity of peoples, cultures, and life experiences. Through its exhibitions, lectures, sponsored symposia, and film and video showings, the museum affords opportunities for interaction and collaboration among faculty, students and members of the larger community. The museum's program of developing the University's collections of contemporary art serves the artistic community by supporting living artists and preserving their work. It also creates a resource for enriching the campus environment though loans and exhibitions from these collections. Most essentially, the museum itself is a place for informal self-directed learning. The experience is voluntary and may provide a moment of reflection or a chance discovery that moves the visitor in a lasting way." [8]

Donald Mochan was the director of the Gallery from 1967 until his death in 1976. Before joining the staff at the State University of New York at Albany, he served as a professor of architecture at RPI. After his death, Donald Mochan was succeed by Nancy Liddle. Mrs. Liddle, a graduate of Indiana University and a member of the Art Department, had been involved with the Art Gallery from its inception aiding in planning the first year's exhibits. [9] Mrs. Liddle had served as the full time assistant director of the Gallery from 1966 to 1976, and director from 1976 to her retirement in 1993. Currently Marijo Dougherty is serving as the interim director of the museum.

[1] "Art Department Exhibits Flemish Paintings Here", State College News, p. 4, 11-22-29.

[2] Interview with Edward Cowley, Professor Emeritus, 7-19-93.

[3] "Strategy for Documenting 20th Century Art Activity in the Albany Region" developed by the McKinney Library Albany Institute of History and Art, December, 1991, p 26.

[4] Ibid., p. 31.

[5] Interview with Edward Cowley, Professor Emeritus, 7-19-93.

[6] Interview with Marijo Dougherty, Interim Director of Art Museum, 7-27-93. The exact date of the change in reporting relationships remains unclear.

[7] President's Report, 1992, p. 8.

[8] "Mission Statement, University Art Museum," State University of New York at Albany

[9] News Release 77-124, Office of Media Relations, "Nancy Liddle Heads University Art Gallery", 8-12-77, pp. 3-4.

Exhibit Publications contains exhibit leaflets, flyers, catalogs, and programs from 1967 to 1993. All exhibits held by the University Art Gallery and subsequently Art Museum are listed. The items are arranged chronologically by exhibition. The list of exhibits was compiled and annotated by both the Museum and the University Archives to describe holdings relating to the exhibits. While all exhibits held by the University Art Gallery and subsequently Art Museum are listed, full documentation for all the exhibits may not exist. For the most part the University Archives and the University Art Gallery have duplicate holdings. Where an item is not held by the University Archives the note (not in archival holdings) will appear.

Newspaper clippings were gathered by both the University Archives and the Art Gallery and subsequent Museum. For the most part, clippings were gathered from local publications relation to exhibits.

The collection is divided into two series: exhibit publications, and a clippings file.

Collection Access & Use

Access to this collection is restricted because it is unprocessed. Portions of the collection may contain recent administrative records and/or personally identifiable information. Please contact an archivist for more information.

This page may contain links to digital objects. Access to these images and the technical capacity to download them does not imply permission for re-use. Digital objects may be used freely for personal reference use, referred to, or linked to from other web sites.

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:Preferred citation for this material is as follows:
Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, University Art Museum Records, 1967-1993. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the University Art Museum Records).

Collection Subjects & Formats

Series 1: Exhibition Publications

Inclusive Date: 1967-1997

Series 2: Clippings

Inclusive Date: 1965-1992

Series 3: Web Archives

Inclusive Date: 2010 May 28-2016 September 17 - University Archives collection

Inclusive Date: 2013 May 8-2016 September 17

Web-archive: 1

WARC file for, (please see for more details)

Inclusive Date: 2013 May 8-2016 September 17

Warc: 1 - Internet Archive collection

Inclusive Date: 2010 May 28-2016 September 17

Web-archive: 2