Focus, everyone....

posted on 03 Dec 2012 22:00 by Elena Pinto Simon
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Some four years ago, Dean Peter Miller envisioned the Focus Gallery as an experimental space, where faculty, working with students, could ask the same kinds of questions in an exhibition format that might come up in a research seminar. And in the short time since then, each faculty member who has headed a Focus Gallery Project has worked with a class over the course of a semester or two to tease out questions, compile check lists, do the research, help create and organize the digital material, and work on many aspects of the final display – including the catalogue that accompanies each exhibition.


In a very short period of time, the Focus Gallery Experiment has become an important part of the BGC student experience for those who want to have hands-on experience with every aspect of working on an exhibition.

Exhibitions to date have included:
Objects of Exchange: Social and Material Transformation on the Late Nineteenth – Century Northwest Coast. Faculty curator, Aaron Glass
American Christmas Cards, 1900-1960. Faculty curator, Ken Ames
Staging Fashion, 1880-1820. Faculty curator, Michele Majer
The Islands of Benoit Mandelbrot: Fractals, Chaos, and the Materiality of Thinking. Faculty curator, Nina Samuel
Next up, opening in April, 2013, will be Confluences: An American Expedition to Northern Burma, 1935. Faculty curator, Erin Hasinoff


Students work closely with a faculty member on each project – but also engage regularly with our very strong exhibition staff on all aspects of planning and mounting an exhibition – from the process of arranging for object loans – to design, display, publication and interpretation.

It’s become a wonderful practicum for students who want careers in museums –as curators, researchers, and museum educators

The topics for these exhibitions reflect the wide range of student/faculty interests at the BGC.
The BGC Focus Gallery is headed by Prof. Ivan Gaskell, who came to the BGC from Harvard last January.

In addition to the work done in the classroom and in the library, each focus gallery project also Involves a Focus Gallery Team consisting of the students, the curator, the Head of the FG, the Gallery’s Assistant Curator, Ann Tartsinis, and an array of BGC staff depending on what the topic for each session might include. Sometimes the Exhibition Designer and Chief Preparer, Ian Sullivan is at the table; sometimes BGC’s Art Director, Laura Grey; and sometimes Asst. Director of the Digital Media Lab Kimon Karamidas, or the BGC’s Technical Digital Designer, Han Vu, are also present – along with this Blogger – as every aspect of a particular project is reviewed. The Chief Curator and Executive Editor of Gallery Publications is Nina Stritzler-Levine.

Each exhibition has posed different questions and problems and all have been an extraordinary experience for those involved – and provide a front row seat for students who are fully engaged in each project.


For more on the work of the Focus Gallery, please also read my interview with Prof. Gaskell earlier this term.
And when you are in New York – come take a peek at this little gem on the 4th floor of 18 West 86th Street.