U-M Museum of Art Groundbreaking
September 14, 2006
I may be the most fortunate person here, because I have the University of Michigan Museum of Art as a neighbor.
Every day, walking to and from the office to my home, I wander past the Museum, with its colorful banners and its patrons going in and out.
It is going to be a pleasure watching the new expansion unfold. I have always been impressed by the willingness of the Museum of Art to mount unusual and interesting exhibits. The new addition that we break ground for here today will be, by far, the Museum’s most spectacular exhibition of space, design, and creativity.
A university—especially a great university—should be limitless in its expression, and the renovation and expansion that we are undertaking at the Museum promises to be masterful in its form and function.
Brad Cloepfil, the lead architect for this spectacular project, has said, “To initiate an act of architecture is to initiate a dialogue.”
So I would like to talk a little about the Museum and the many conversations it inspires.
The Museum of Art engages our students and faculty by amplifying the lessons of the classroom with stunning works of art that add new dimensions to teaching and research. Whether the academic subject is history or literature or psychology, the holdings of the Museum provide perspectives unique to our campus.
I think of the St. Petersburg celebration and the magnificent display from the Hermitage, and what that exhibit gave to our students and faculty. Or the way the Museum commissions new works of art as expressions of research.
The Museum of Art is a fully engaged partner in our academic enterprise, and the ground we break today solidifies that relationship.
The Museum of Art is also fully engaged beyond our campus. In its many conversations with the community, the Museum personifies the role the University of Michigan plays in enlightening the lives of others. Our connections to the community are countless, and they are symbolized in the design of the new addition, with its outward openings to State Street and the Diag.
In particular, I am continually impressed by the Museum’s dialogue with young people. We have a treasure here in Ann Arbor, and we share it with thousands of students from throughout southeastern Michigan. Museum docents open new worlds to these young people, and our expansion will provide even greater opportunities for learning and exploring.
The conversations that grow out of our Museum include those with donors, who have such a wonderful understanding of our mission, and want to see us grow. They embrace the bridge-building role of a great university museum—one that serves students brilliantly, while also engaging broader audiences. They share our commitment to education, research and outreach, and we are a stronger Museum because of their dedication.
Today would not be possible without these donors and their support of this great institution. They have made an immense difference in the future of the visual arts at Michigan, and they deserve our gratitude.
And so today, we continue this lively conversation, one that inspires scholars, schoolchildren, and citizens from throughout our region. That is the Michigan Difference. We provide the opportunities to achieve and explore more at the University of Michigan than anywhere else.
I want to thank James Steward for his leadership, his vision, and his energy. He has a gift for conceiving of, and then pulling off, exhibitions that expand enormously the range of artistic interests in the community and region. And the attendance figures confirm his success! I know that will continue as the Museum grows.
On behalf of the University community, I also want to thank Maxine and Stuart Frankel for their generous support of the Museum and its mission. Maxine, your leadership is superb. The Maxine and Stuart Frankel and the Frankel Family Wing will be a soaring addition to the Museum and the Central Campus. And I will happily keep an eye on it every day as I walk by.