This year marks the 16th year the Ross Art Museum has been open to the public, and the beginning of my second year as Director at Ohio Wesleyan. The museum is working steadily to professionalize its practices and deepen its engagement with campus. In the past year we have gone through a rebranding, the hiring of gallery assistants, and the development of a new museum practice class. Through all of these developments we are thinking deeply about what it means to embrace the full potential of the Theory-to-Practice ideology at the core of OWU.

This May, I traveled with four students on a Theory-to-Practice Grant, “From the Early Museum to the Contemporary Biennial.” This trip allowed us to explore early museum sites in Florence and contemporary artistic production at the Venice Biennale. I look forward to using the student feedback from our trip to consider how such an opportunity might benefit full classes in the future.

Our exhibits this fall reflect our transition as an institution. We begin the season with a retrospective of Marty Kalb, professor emeritus in painting, which celebrates his many years of artistic production and tremendous contributions to campus. We continue our tradition of exhibiting art by alumni at Mowry Alumni Center. We also break new ground in the second installation of our Inside/Outside series, with artists Tiffany Carbonneau and Susanna Crum creating an architectural scale video projection on the façade of the Ross. I encourage you to learn more about our program for the fall.

As a museum on an academic campus, we understand that teaching is vital and that students must feel welcome and comfortable visiting. Stay tuned for a new series of programs geared specifically toward students, such as exhibition previews and student-centered extra-curricular events. For faculty, we will be offering a variety of opportunities to incorporate the museum and its collections into teaching and research. To ensure that we are able to support these efforts, and future efforts to serve the campus, we  also will be taking part in a year-long assessment program focused on our collections.

I feel lucky that the University has a leader who believes in the value of art to a democratic society, and look forward to finding more ways to integrate the Ross with campus. The Ross has always been supported by generous donations by those who recognize the potential of small academic museums to impact student lives. If you are interested in making a gift to the Ross, please reach out to me directly.

As we launch into 2017-2018, I am immensely grateful to the diligent work of our dedicated staff and our Ross Advisory Board, including new board members Ray Slaybaugh and Julie Hennahan. Museums are always a collective effort and the Ross has benefited from everyone who has touched it. I invite you to join us for the many exciting opportunities ahead!

Erin Fletcher
Director of Ross Art Museum
elfletch@owu.edu