Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana art museum gets a makeover

Shadab Ahmed
Artworks and posters by the students of Augustana College fill up the walls of what was once a bathroom at the Bergendoff Museum.

Formerly known as the Museum of Art, Augustana’s Center of Visual Culture has received a makeover, undergoing renovations, new management along with its new name. Found in the basement of Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts, the center has been under construction to make the space more accessible, open for both professor and student use.  

Vickie Phipps, the director of the Center of Visual Culture, has been working alongside Hayan Kim, assistant director of the Center of Visual Culture, to better utilize the space in hopes of encouraging hands-on learning.

“First, there is Augustana’s mission: our goal is to make art more accessible to students, faculty and the community to do research. Museums have the connotations that say, ‘the art is over here, and you can’t touch it,’” Phipps said. “So, all of our changes are based on making classroom experiences around object study and installations around campus more accessible to our community. That’s why our name changed.” 

The Center of Visual Culture has updated multiple rooms throughout Bergendoff to properly showcase the art the college hosts, as well as increase students’ accessibility to see and use the different space for themselves. 

The center holds art from students, faculty and professional artists. In fact, most of the art you see around campus is from the center. Not all of the renovations have been completed at this time, but many plans have been put in place. 

“This room used to be an office and now students can come in here. It’s a seminar room for SI (Senior Inquiry) students and a study room if you want to hang out here and work if there is not a class,” Phipps said. “We still have our art history offices. They have measured the walls to put up a rack and a rod for student artwork, along with a lounge.”

The recent renovations were mainly caused by the concern of art conservation. Many pieces of art were previously stored in a room in Bergendoff that had water leaks, leaving the art at risk of damage. 

“This room that used to be the director’s office is now going to be used to help make object study easier,” Phipps said. “These are archivable closet files, and they just came in last week, so some of the art downstairs is under a pipe that busts about every 4 years. Part of this year’s [goals] is safety, searchability and access, so a lot of that artwork will come here.” 

At the Center of Visual Culture, it is encouraged that majors of any kind utilize this space. The center is not only reserved for art or art history majors, but for students majoring in other subjects as well. Hayan Kim will be helping professors incorporate elements of art into their classes.

“I will help them develop lesson plans if they’re not familiar with working with art,” Kim said. “I’ll help them develop lesson plans that incorporate works of art even if their major is biology, philosophy or communications.”

The center is made to enhance their classes and incorporate hands-on learning. Adam Kaul, a professor of anthropology, sociology and social welfare has taken several classes to the Center for Visual Culture. 

“FYI classes, for example, would also use the museum in various ways. I loved bringing students there. It gets you to think about things in a different way,” Kaul said. “When you’re looking at objects rather than thinking about them, reading about them or even watching a video about them in a classroom. When you do active learning it’s better than someone just lecturing at you. So a museum is a great teaching resource in that way.”   

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