_These are the remarks made by Dr. Joyce Ice, Director of the Art Museum of WVU, during the dedication ceremony held August 25, 2015.
Today, for just a moment, I’d like to ask you to think with me about two words, art and museum, either together or separately, and consider what they mean to you. For those of us who have been exposed to a variety of art forms and have had opportunities to visit many museums, the words most likely call up good memories of beauty and art, culture and history, perhaps even intriguing or invigorating challenges to previous thinking.
“The purpose of art,” as James Baldwin once said, “is to lay bare the questions that have been hidden by the answers.”
For novice museum-goers, the words art museum may evoke a feeling of uneasiness or insecurity instead. They may think: “I don’t belong here,” “What do I know about art?” They may feel out of place or even fearful.
I’m proud to say the Art Museum of WVU is a place for both of these broadly described groups: a place that encourages people to ask questions about the works they are seeing, about the artists, about themselves.
Our knowledgeable and enthusiastic docents and staff, our well-designed exhibits and signage, and our diverse collection of art will make the museum a welcoming as well as an inspiring environment, offering encounters that range from ceramics dating to the Silla Dynasty of Korea prior to the 10th century, to sculptures by self-taught artists in Appalachia, to dazzling contemporary murals, such as the one you’ll see inside the lobby painted earlier this year by How and Nosm.
We are proud that the Art Museum of WVU charges no admission—it’s free. But monetary barriers aren’t the only ones being broken. Art is free-ing—it frees people to explore, to feel, to learn, and to create.
In this stimulating environment, art calls us to take some risks, and invites us to discover who we are, and with that knowledge to connect with one another. It allows communities to interact with the University in different ways, adding to the cultural vitality that makes Morgantown one of the best small cities in America while contributing to its well-being and that of our region and our state. In this setting, school teachers and university faculty alike will find additional resources to enhance the educational experiences of students from Nursery School through graduate school.
When I first arrived at WVU as freshman from my hometown of Paden City, West Virginia, I could never have pictured this day. However, at the time, I did realize that for me, as for many other students like me, WVU opened a whole new world of possibilities.
Here, I found a place to belong and a sense of identity—and people who encouraged my growth as a student and as a person. My career path led me out of the state and eventually, to a position as director of a museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Now, years later, I’m so grateful to have been able to come home to serve as director of the Art Museum of WVU, and to share this incredible experience with all of you.
Welcome to the Art Museum of West Virginia University!
Welcome to your Art Museum!