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A New Endowment for Contemporary Art

September 5, 2017
large painting on wall with two people standing in front of it
Visiting artist Hung Liu and Art Museum Director and Chief Curator Susan Moldenhauer, in the exhibition Hung Liu: American Exodus, April 2017

The UW Art Museum received its largest endowment gift to create the Susan B. Moldenhauer FUNd for Contemporary Art.

By Susan Moldenhauer

Earlier this year, the University of Wyoming Art Museum received the largest endowment gift in its history, which supports the future of the museum’s programming in contemporary art. The exemplary gift of $2.27 million was made by generous anonymous donor.

The Susan B. Moldenhauer FUNd for Contemporary Art will support major exhibitions by national and international artists who are advancing discussions about the issues of our time, evolving technologies, and pushing the boundaries of concepts and materials. It will enable those artists to come to UW for discussions with students and public programs, such as artist lectures, workshops, panels and symposia. Recent and planned programs that exemplify the FUNd’s purpose include WASTE LAND: A Survey of Works by Brandon Ballengée, 1996–2016 (fall 2016); the recently closed Hung Liu: American Exodus; and fall 2017 programs Al Farrow: Divine Ammunition: The Work of Al Farrow and Papel Chicano Dos: Works on Paper from the Cheech Marin Collection.

From its beginning, the Art Museum has been introducing artistic accomplishments by building a diverse collection that represents art from all time and cultures. Its exhibition program focus on contemporary art, however, has been essential in advancing exposure to the visual arts of the present day—a focus not otherwise found in Wyoming. Recently, the museum’s thinking about its collections and exhibitions has shifted from a simple display and interpretation to more advanced questions of engagement—how can we use the stellar art in our collections and exhibitions to encourage dialogue, interdisciplinary discourse, scholarship, professional development and learning?

The Art Museum’s increasing involvement with faculty and students outside of the arts and humanities is in its infancy, but new partnerships and collaborations across UW’s colleges and across Wyoming are being developed. Visiting artists dramatically expand what is possible. The Susan B. Moldenhauer FUNd for Contemporary Art establishes a foundation on which to build these impactful opportunities.

Fundamental to the UW Art Museum’s programs are its exhibitions, and fundamental to the vitality of the museum’s interdisciplinary approach to learning for all ages is the belief that the museum’s original resources are important to any academic pursuit, P–12 education, and cultural opportunities for Wyoming’s citizens and visitors. The opportunity to bring artists, collectors and scholars into the conversation significantly expands the discussions and opportunities for academic engagement, thus preparing our students of all ages in critical thinking skills and exposing them to national and international issues and cultures, advances in artistic expression and innovation, and a greater understanding of the world we live in.

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