JSMA turns 80 with gusto and gala

Michael and Karol Gottfredson with Jill Hartz (right) (Photo by Jack Liu)

The University of Oregon's Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art celebrated its 80th birthday on Saturday, May 4 with a gala that drew more than 200 people for an evening of dancing and donating.

Attendees, who paid $80 for admission, also had the opportunity to purchase raffle tickets for art and jewelry. Proceeds from the gala went to fund the variety of K-12 education programs the JSMA organizes to provide essential arts education to schools throughout the state.

Jill Hartz, JSMA executive director since 2008, welcomed and thanked the crowd, which included UO President Michael Gottfredson and Karol Gottfredson.

Maintaining a university museum “takes a village,” says Hartz. “We are successful because we have a compelling vision and mission that supports the university’s goals and our larger community’s interests.”

Hartz acknowledges the contributions of many who work to keep the museum’s offerings pertinent and unique. “We have a dedicated and professional staff, a UO administration, faculty and students who recognize the museum’s value and excellence, and volunteers who extend our ability to serve our constituents,” she says.  

To mark the museum’s birthday, one of the most innovative exhibitions in the museum's history, “Living Legacies: The JSMA @ 80,” will open June 1 and run through Sept. 1. “Living Legacies” celebrates the collectors and collections in the JSMA’s community that reflect the museum’s mission and vision for the future. The exhibition includes more than 100 pieces of art from at least 80 collectors.

“We’ve never had an exhibition drawn from more than 80 lenders, nor have we – or our community – seen these works, mostly from private homes, on view in the public,” says Hartz. 

The exhibition will also be available on the museum’s website through the museum's first online exhibition catalog.

Five years ago, the museum celebrated its 75th birthday with the special exhibition “Lasting Legacies,” which highlighted major works in the collection and the donors that had made them – and the museum – possible. 

In addition to “Living Legacies,” the JSMA will open other new exhibitions to mark its 80th anniversary. Those exhibitions can be previewed at a free public reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, May 31.

The JSMA’s continued presence on the UO campus is important for many reasons, Hartz says. “We make those real connections to objects that support discipline-based learning – studio art, art history, art education, museum studies, etc. We are also an interdisciplinary center – we can use art to connect disciplines across the academy,” she says.

In the future, Hartz hopes the museum will continue to strengthen its partnerships with faculty and students across campus and to reach an even broader audience in the local community. “We have a Cultural Trust grant now that will enable us to create a Latino Engagement plan,” she says. “As stated in our vision, we want to be one of the finest academic museums in the world – not just to model best practices, but to set the standard.”

- by Aria Seligmann, UO Office of Strategic Communications