The Zeitgeist of the University Art Museum has Arrived!

Funding for arts and humanities is under attack: locally, nationally, and internationally, and art museums and galleries everywhere are being hit harder than ever before. However, the often low profile and “nested” institutional conditions of university art museums and galleries exacerbates their
vulnerability to aggressive raids orchestrated by private interests. The need for an organization designed to guard, defend, and promote these special institutions and their world-class collections has never been greater.
The aim of the International Association of University Art Museums & Galleries (IAUAMG) is the advancement of the university art museum and gallery as a wellspring of artistic creativity and academic freedom around the globe. It is dedicated to promoting the cause of university art museums and galleries everywhere, and defending their unique status as guardians of fine arts collections that embody and stand for artistic creativity, freedom, free speech, artistic freedom and academic freedom. The objective of the IAUAMG is the preservation and conservation of university art museum and gallery collections, and the development and installation of policies to prevent the increasingly common crime of deacession for private profit, exemplified by the recent incident at Maier Museum at Randolph College in Lynchburg,Virginia in 2007.*

            As its first order of business the IAUAMG seeks the immediate return of the four paintings that were misappropriated by the Randolph College administration from the Maier Museum under the pretense of budgetary exigency.
            
However, it is not only the unique buildings and collections that must be safeguarded. University art museums and galleries must also defend and champion artistic rebellion, different ways of thinking, and different kinds of intelligence, against the inevitable attempts to censor and control programming, architecture, art and artists, for economic and political gain of any type from both the government and the university. In order to protect university art museum and gallery collections from potential seizure and to safeguard the artistic and academic freedoms of the university and the museum itself, we seek increased financial and administrative autonomy for university art museums, specifically in the establishment of a strong self-governing infrastructure, which puts students at its very center. In fact, the missions of university art museums and galleries everywhere should spring first and foremost from the needs, desires, and dreams of the students, and the larger communities every university art museum and gallery serves. There should be at least two student representatives on the board: ideally an artist and an art historian, along with three representatives from three different classes within the community. Students are at the heart of every great university art museum and so it is only natural that they should be included in every aspect of the running of the museum.
            IAUAMG will serve as a scholarly resource for all those involved in museum studies both in the United States as well as internationally. In this capacity, starting with the Commonwealth of Virginia, IAUAMG will begin the work required to establish a rotating exchange program in which university art museums and galleries throughout the world will have the opportunity to share and circulate their artwork. The IAUAMG will also put in place an international listserv, thereby creating and connecting a global community of students, scholars, artists, curators and directors who share our common goals and aspirations.

The Zeitgeist of the University Art Museum has Arrived!

* In May 2008 four paintings were misappropriated from the Maier Museum at Randolph College, one of which was sold to a private collector by Christie’s Fine Art Auctions for 7.2 million dollars in May 2008. The remaining paintings are said to be in storage at Christie’s. All four paintings should be returned to the Maier Museum post-haste.