january featured artist
Stewardship of a Teaching Collection of Art
By Kristina L. Durocher
Director, Museum of Art of the University of New Hampshire
For many people, The Museum of Art of the University of New Hampshire is a hidden gem of the Seacoast region, and the Museum’s collection of art, used as an educational resource for students and faculty, is rarer still. Tucked away in a former classroom in the Paul Creative Arts Center, the collection, which now numbers more than two thousand, two hundred works of art, began in 1948 with the donation of French and Italian paintings by patrons who had an interest in European art. Other donations followed and soon paintings were displayed in administrative offices and public spaces. As the University expanded, so did recognition of the educational value of the fine and performing arts, which resulted in the 1960 construction of the Paul Creative Art Center, which houses the Museum and enabled the consolidation of works of art across campus into a unified teaching collection.
Under the direction of Art and Art History faculty, the collection developed to support pedagogy and scholarly interests; the studio program that emphasizes the primacy of drawing and painting from observation formed the thematic core of the collection with additions of still-life, landscape, and narrative figuration subjects. Some of the most notable paintings in the collection are by artists representing New Hampshire’s artistic traditions such as the White Mountain school, influential artists from the Dublin Arts Colony and Monadnock region, and artists associated with the Ogunquit School and the Isle of Shoals. Despite a long history of collecting, the first dedicated acquisition fund was established in 2000 by a patron of the Museum, allowing the Museum’s director to make specific purchases of works of art on paper, namely prints, drawings, collages, and photographs.
Compared to institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art with its encyclopedic collection of more than a million objects, or even the Currier Museum of Art with its many thousands of objects, the Museum of Art’s collection is small indeed. However, as a teaching collection it is small enough for important pieces by artists who are known by a single appellation--Picasso, Goya, and Warhol--to be familiar, and yet is large enough for research to yield rich discoveries such as the etchings of Edith Loring Peirce Getchell (1855–1940), a Worcester-based artist and student of Thomas Eakins (1844–1916), who was heralded during her lifetime as one of America’s preeminent etchers.
The Museum of Art holds twelve etchings by Edith Loring Peirce Getchell, whose landscapes were lauded for expressing a new direction in American Art, a turn inward, away from idealized expansive vistas to meditative rural scenes accentuating intimate interactions with nature. For the three fellowship students working at the Museum of Art, the life and work of Edith Loring Peirce Getchell will serve as a curatorial research project culminating in an exhibition of the etchings in January 2023 and will be the subject of my talk to Rye Art Study on Monday, January 9, 2023.
Kristina is the director and curator of the Museum of Art of the University of New Hampshire in Durham. Previously, she was assistant curator then curator of collections at the Fitchburg Art Museum, 2004–2011. Her curatorial program embraces one-person and group thematic exhibitions that support student learning and faculty instruction and facilitate teaching through art as a primary source for academic and social engagement.
She currently serves as the president of the Association of Academic Museum and Galleries and served for six years as vice-president on the board of directors of the New England Museum Association. In 2017 she was named a fellow of the Getty Leadership Institute. In 2019, she co-edited, For Love or Money: Confronting the State of Museum Salaries, contributing an essay on legislation to end salary inequity. She holds a M.A. in Art History from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a concentration in contemporary art. She received a dual B.F.A. in Art History and Painting from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston.