CWRU launches collaborative art history PhD. program at the Cleveland Museum of Art with a $500,000
Posted November 14, 2012 in Articles
Author: Steven Litt
Case Western Reserve University is revamping its doctoral program in art history in collaboration with theCleveland Museum of Art to train curators of the future with skills to understand the physical nature of artworks in all their richness and complexity.
The program, to be launched in the fall, will be supported by two new grants totaling $500,000 from theAndrew W. Mellon Foundation of New York, for which the museum and the university were invited to apply.
"It’s incredibly exciting," said Catherine Scallen, chairwoman of the art history department at CWRU. "We could help change doctoral education in art history with this program, and I think make it more relevant in the 21st century."
David Franklin, who joined the Cleveland museum as its director in 2010, said, "It was one of my ambitions when I came [to the museum] to enhance relations with Case Western Reserve and rebuild the art history program with them as an equal partner. It’s a fabulous restart of this program."
Scallen said that art history in American universities is mostly taught in lecture halls and seminar rooms by professors discussing slides projected on screens.
"It flattens out everything," she said. "It makes all objects seem as if they’re the same size or coloring or texture. You can’t tell distinctions."
The experience is fundamentally different from that of a curator working closely with scientifically trained art-conservation experts to understand how artworks were made, how they’ve aged and how their physicality relates to and embodies their meaning.