Picker’s Doors Close

Peggy Collins

On Friday, February 16, the Picker Art Gallery (Picker) closed temporarily for building system repairs. The gallery was closed because a part of the heating system went offline. This piece helps air to circulate throughout the gallery. The staff at Picker decided to close as a precaution in order to protect the artwork.

“It is because the gallery holds works of art that we needed to close our doors,” Director of the Picker Art Gallery Lizzie Barker said. “The university’s fine art collection is intended to serve future generations of students, faculty, and community members, as well as our visitors today…the cumulative effect of temperature and humidity changes could really add up over the course of, say, 500 years.

Because works of art are much more vulnerable to shifts in temperature or humidity than a person would be, we can’t take any unnecessary risks.”

In other areas of Picker, such as the staff offices, measures such as the opening of doors and installation of fans tempered the rise in temperature; however, such precautions cannot be applied to the gallery itself. The temperature and humidity levels are based on internationally recognized standards. Those standards are important, and it is imperative that no large fluctuations or disturbances to the gallery climate.

The HVAC system were completed on Tuesday, February 20. The gallery must then be observed for at least one day or two in order to be sure that conditions have stabilized. It will reopen Friday, contingent on normalized climate control.

The Gallery is located in the Charles A. Dana Center for Creative Arts, a building constructed between 1964 and 1966. The building was commissioned by Paul Rudolph at a time when Colgate underwent several significant changes, including the anticipated admission of women and an increased interest in encouraging arts on campus. The university broadened the curriculum to include new courses intended to interest women, most notably a course introducing music, architecture and art history.

In response to the success of these initivates, Colgate proposed a theater as a means of resolving the absence of a centralized location for creative and performing arts. The notion of an art gallery or museum occurred much later in the progress of planning. Mrs. Evelyn Picker gave a named gift to the university, which funded the gallery’s construction. This gallery was meant as a location to display temporary exhibitions; it was not until two decades later that it began to serve as an art museum.

Today, the gallery serves as an institution to which alumni may donate art. Within six weeks of the opening of the gallery, over 1000 works of art arrived. The gallery was accredited by the American Association of Museums in 1985. An exhibition on the history of the gallery will take place next fall.

“[The gallery is] not only a resource for holding art, but it is a resource for the entire Colgate community,” Barker said. “I hope that students and faculty will care about our closure this week because the gallery is here to serve them, by providing objects of art for research, contemplation and inspiration.”

Upcoming projects for Picker Art Gallery include a massive inventory of all items in the collection, which will be stored on an electronic database. By the beginning of next year, the gallery should have completed this task. Eventually, the collections will be published on the Internet. Picker staff members hope that the database will be available on their own website as well as that of the Colgate libraries.

“Regardless of individual academic discipline, all students can appreciate the gallery as a contribution to their intellectual endeavors as a part of the liberal arts education,” Barker said.