University Museum ranked top 20 in nation

Posted on Sep 20 2013 - 9:16am by Joanie Sanders

The University of Mississippi Museum was recently ranked number 17 on the list of the 20 Best College Art Museums. The museum is ranked among those of many big name universities including University of Texas, Princeton, Harvard, and Yale. The Complex Art and Design website lends the museum’s success to its ability to “balance their dedication to the local community with a commitment to expanding student’s world views.”

The museum houses several permanent collections including Southern folk art, Greek and Roman antiquities, 19th century scientific instruments, and American fine art. The museum also owns and manages two historic homes including Rowan Oak, home of Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Faulkner, and the Walton-Young Historic House, home of the late critic and satirist Stark Young.

Librarian and freshman EDHE teacher Melissa Dennis comments, “Each fall, I take my EDHE 105 class, like many other instructors, on a walk through the woods to Faulkner’s House. Bill is an expert tour guide for Rowan Oak who teaches students about William Faulkner’s legacy. I think it is a great experience for freshmen to see firsthand how a famous Oxonian lived, and hope the walk and tour of the house inspire them to reflect on their own paths at Ole Miss.”

Additionally, the museum houses temporary exhibits and is currently housing a collection called, Recollecting: 1980-2012, works by Ron Dale.

Funding from the museum comes from the University annual budget, contributed supports from multiple locations including donations and grants, and an earned income from museum admissions and the gift store.

The museum’s main focus is to enhance learning at Ole Miss. The staff is dedicated to preserve art, science, and history while educating the community about the cultural heritage of the American South and Mississippi. Several activities are offered through the museum including lectures, demonstrations, educational workshops, community functions, exhibits, and events for children. The Museum Education Department also works with several administrative branches on campus in providing internships for future and current museum professionals.

“Inclusion in national recognition of this nature provides a wide range of benefits to museums, from morale-building and wider funding opportunities, to enhanced exhibition and program partnership opportunities with peer institutions. This honor comes at a time when we are dynamically expanding our exhibition, program and educational impacts and outreach. On behalf of the entire museum staff, and all of the museum’s many supporters and friends, I express our gratitude and our sincere pleasure at this news,” said museum director, Robert Saarino.

The staff and supporters dedication to the University Museum is evident through all that has been accomplished. The museum and all it has to offer benefits the Ole Miss community and the Oxford community as a whole. It serves as a cultural center and a window of knowledge into the past for all who visit.

“I feel like students don’t take advantage of all of the great things the museum has to offer. I personally would like to start attending some of the workshops,” said sophomore journalism major, Maggie Durnien.

“Working at the UM Museum over the last two years, I’m always sad when students say, “Wait, we have a museum?”  The staff uses about eight full-time people and still manages to pull off an incredible array of exhibitions and programming.  As an education intern, I have so much fun teaching the children, but also love the fact that I have so many opportunities to go out into the community and be involved as well.  The Museum is probably the best place to work on campus, and I’m so glad that my colleagues and friends are getting nationally recognized.  Hopefully, more people will come to the Museum to see how well deserved this honor really is,” said junior international studies and Chinese major as well as education intern, Steven Mockler.

Membership, events, and communications coordinator, Alyssa Yuen adds, “The UM Museum strives to be a cultural center for both the University, Oxford, and Lafayette County communities.  We open our doors for visitors of all ages to browse our galleries, engage with artists and scholars, and create art inspired by exhibitions and objects in the collections. Through our events and programming, we target every part of the visitor spectrum–Mini Masters and ArtZone for children, Family Activity Days for families, Oxford Art Crawl for students, and Artist’s Lectures and Panel Discussions for adults.  We hope everyone will take advantage of our programming and events and visit our new exhibitions.”

The Complex Art and Design website states that the combination of the museum’s balance of “dedication to the local community with a commitment to expanding students’ word views” makes it a leading establishment. Staff is extremely honored to be ranked number 17 and is excited for what is yet to come.