Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art celebrates 10 years at UNLV

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Opening reception for the Barrick Museum of Art's Spring 2021 exhibitions- "Spirit of the Land", "The Mojave Project", and "Still Motion". March 25, 2022 (Josh Hawkins/UNLV). Photo courtesy of museum's website.

The Marjorie Barrick Museum of Natural History first opened its doors in 1967 on UNLV’s main campus. After decades of attracting visitors with an emphasis on Nevada’s environment and natural history, the museum joined the College of Fine Arts in 2012 and is now celebrating its 10-year anniversary. 

“We’ve grown a lot since then. A lot of anniversaries are actually coming up in the College of Fine Arts,” said LeiAnn Huddleston, the programming manager of the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art. “There’s the 35-year anniversary for the Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery, the 30-year anniversary for the College of Fine Arts, and that’s all a kind of culmination in a huge celebration during Art Walk, which is on Nov. 4 of this year. So we’re doing a larger celebration with the college then.”

The Barrick Museum currently has four exhibitions for viewing: “Untitled (L.A.),” “Two Cultures, One Family,” “Notes for Tomorrow,” and “Making Room.” 

“Making Room” honors the museum’s anniversary as part of the College of Fine Arts with works from both past and present collections.

This collection was made possible by removing the artifacts from the West Gallery’s walls in order to make room for artwork that had been accumulating over the last 10 years, as well as more recent attainments. 

“(‘Making Room’) is a newly renovated space in our West Gallery that features works within the collection,” said Huddleston. “Some of them are newly acquired, like Picasso or Norman Rockwell, and some of them have been a part of the collection for a very long time.”

The manner in which pieces are obtained by the museum varies. Huddleston said that sometimes donors approach the museum and ask for an assessment of their collection. Works are always chosen based on how well they fit within the Barrick Museum’s mission statement. 

“For example, typically within a museum [the artwork comes from] cisgendered white males,” said Huddleston. “Historically, those are the only people that are seen within institutional spaces. So our goal as a museum is to diversify our collection as much as possible, typically by those underrepresented within a museum context or institution.”

The Barrick Museum tries to put a spotlight on local artists from around Southern Nevada, according to Huddleston. The collections within the museum generally span internationally.

Usually exhibitions remain in the museum for about two or three months. Huddleston said that they coincide with the semesters, there is a spring show, a summer show and a fall show.

“The shows that are currently on,” said Huddleston, “we just opened last Friday, and they’ll run until January. (The museum) will close down for a bit, and then in March we’ll open with some new shows.”

Huddleston has been employed at the museum for six years, and has noticed how much change there has been within those years. The building’s title of “Museum of Art” was added in 2016, around the same time in which the building itself celebrated its 50-year anniversary. Huddleston said that many of the changes were brought on by the museum’s executive director, Alisha Kerlin. 

“Our team has especially been influential in our community engagement projects,” Huddleston said. “our partnerships and community partners, how we represent our community, as well as providing spaces for those in the community.” 

In the future, she would like to see the museum connect more closely with the community. The Barrick Museum has already partnered with local organizations that she hopes will only continue to grow. She hopes that the museum’s collection will expand alongside its representation of artists. 

“We always have said that the museum collection exists within the public trust, and we just house it,” said Huddleston, “but it really belongs to the people.”

The Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art permits visitors free of charge, though donations are accepted. It is open every Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. The museum’s next upcoming event is “Art Walk” on Nov. 4.

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