University of AlbertaEdmonton, Canada
1 November 1996
By Ron Thomas
Although the U of A is an institution that never sleeps, it is looking forward to a "night and day" kind of event.
"Night" was having a large collection of international prints in a cubbyhole in the basement of the Biological Sciences Building. "Day" is relocating that collection in the new (and roomy) Print Study Centre on the third floor of the Fine Arts Building. When, at next Tuesday's opening of the centre, officials say, "It gives me great pleasure to ...," the phrase will undoubtedly sound as though it's just been minted.
"It's [Print Study Centre] been a long time coming," says printmaker Liz Ingram (Art and Design). "It's really appreciated by us [faculty] both for teaching and research. It makes a vast collection usable on a regular basis. It's a godsend, a great resource for the city as well as for us."
"The Print Study Centre is much more accessible to the area of campus that will probably have the greatest need for it," says Janine Andrews, Director of Museums and Collections Services (MACS), the manager of the new facility.
The collection to which Professor Ingram refers is made up of historic Japanese prints, contemporary Canadian and Eastern European prints, print portfolios by both individual artists and groups, and prints by University of Alberta artists such as Professors Ingram, Walter Jule and Lyndal Osborne.
The University began acquiring prints and drawings in the 1950s and the collection now boasts more than 1,400 pieces spanning four centuries. The first Print and Drawing Study Room was established in 1981.
The centre will be officially opened 5 November at 8 pm, with Dean of Arts Patricia Clements and printmaker Jennifer Dickson (see separate story) being among the speakers. In conjunction with the opening, 150 prints selected from the collection are being shown in FAB Gallery from now until 17 November. Titled "World Class: Celebrating the New Print Study Centre", the exhibition include five prints by Dr Dickson, Professor Jule's "A Substitute for Knowing", Professor Osborne's "Gateway to the Interior", Albrecht Durer's "The Abduction of Proserpine", and Rembrandt's "Old Man With a Divided Fur Cap".
Features are plentiful in the Print Study Centre. A screen rolls down from the ceiling to accommodate the showing of slides, the west wall is a print viewing wall designated for short-term viewing rather than exhibition space. An easel can be adjusted to hold prints large and small. They're unframed, and it's permissible to study them at close range.
There's also a custom-built viewing table with seating for up to 20 people, a computer terminal with access to textual information and digitized images of the prints (MACS staff will conduct searches upon request), and ample storage space. A catalogue which lists artist, title, date, technique and location is available for consultation.
Half of the space had been used as a central meeting room for Drama, Music, and Art and Design; and the other half was used by visual communication design students.
Costs for the centre were held down because the lighting was recycled from Ring House Gallery which no longer operates as a gallery and seating was donated by a corporate sponsor. As well, Professor Jule (Art and Design), along with Jim Corrigan and Bernd Hildebrandt of MACS, were instrumental in the design of the room.
"We want the centre to be unique in the country," Andrews says. "Rather than simply collecting anything and everything, we're focusing on prints that no one else is focusing on, for example, those produced in Eastern Europe and East Asia."
MACS staff will school Edmonton and area school teachers on the Print Study Centre and the uses to which it can be put. Teachers can then schedule visits by groups of students, knowing that nothing will be left to chance when they arrive.
The centre is open to the public Fridays from 1-4:30 pm.
The Print Study Collection contains 1,430 works of art, 1,150 of which are prints. The breakdown of how works were acquired is as follows:
MFA presentation 82
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