The WJB Gallery, an elegant exhibition space at the center of the William Johnston Building atrium, will soon see subtle but vital improvements thanks to thousands of dollars in technology grants garnered by Jean Hudson, Art History Media Center Curator. The WJB Gallery is shared by the departments of the College of Fine Arts and managed by a team of representatives from Art, Art Education, Art History, Interior Architecture + Design, and the Museum of Fine Arts. The 1100-square foot glass-walled exhibition space stretches the length of the central five-story atrium in the William Johnston Building, providing a bright public showcase for student work and student-curated installations.
Use of the Gallery rotates between the CFA departments for 5 to 10 shows per year, featuring everything from Art student prints to Special Collections manuscripts to furniture designed and built by students in Interior Architecture + Design – and most recently, transitory performances by students in the School of Dance. Recurring exhibitions by the Museum Object undergraduate class are a vital part of Art History’s Museum & Cultural Heritage Studies program. Students in these classes curate, research, install, and explain art objects and historical artifacts from University and community collections, building each exhibition from fundraising campaign to opening night in one semester. The Gallery thus serves an increasingly crucial role in the College, as much a teaching space as a showcase for student productions. However, lacking centralized recurring funding, materials and supplies for the WJB Gallery have been dependent on donations, equipment loans, and cost-sharing among the individual departments and the Dean’s office, and major upgrades have been out of reach.
Now, thanks to a University Technology Fee Grant applied for by Hudson on behalf of the Gallery Committee as well as direct support from the College of Fine Arts Office of the Dean, the WJB Gallery will be outfitted with new materials and undergo major security renovations to be completed in time for the 2016-17 academic year. Security for the glass entry will be reinforced with a stronger lock system and removable central post between the double doors, and the keyed lock – a complicated arrangement for a room that rotates between departments – will be replaced with a card-swipe panel, allowing a quick change of access when the Gallery changes hands. The Technology Fee grant will also provide new surfacing for the reconfigurable interior walls, dedicated audio and video equipment, and additional LED fixtures for added flexibility in arranging and lighting exhibitions.
The Gallery Committee is hopeful that these enhancements will both expand the potential for unique installations and open up the possibility of showing more protected materials in the WJB Gallery. Keep an eye on the Gallery page for upcoming shows and a recap of previous events in this shared treasure of the College of Fine Arts.