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Queens College exhibit explores diverse collections of art, artifacts

Apr. 24, 2023 By Ethan Marshall

The Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College is currently running an exhibition that explores diverse collections of art and artifacts and their evolution. The exhibition, which runs until May 25, highlights little-seen works from 20th-century and contemporary artists.

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Collage and plastic, cement, resin, oil on canvas by Alberto Burri (photo by the Godwin-Ternbach Museum)

Referred to as “The Gift: Queens College Collects,” the exhibition features works from artists like Louise Nevelson, Hale Woodruff, Alberto Burri, Robert Kipniss, Andy Warhol, Miguel Conde, Robert Wilson, Pat Lasch, Marcel Duchamp, Lesser Uri and Antoine-Louis Bayre. In total, 179 objects are featured in this exhibition.

According to the Godwin-Ternbach Museum Co-Director, Director of Exhibitions/Collections and Curator Louise Weinberg, this exhibit came about from research she had been performing on the history of the college’s art collections. Through Weinberg’s research, she found that Queens College owns a large number of artwork in all kinds of media that have been scattered across the campus.

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Silk, polyester, embroidered applique by Óscar de la Renta (photo by the Godwin-Ternbach Museum)

“It was my notion to bring together six collections on campus,” Weinberg said. “Godwin-Terbach Museum holds 7,000 objects that are global in reach and go back 5,000 years and reach into the present.”

Much of the items in the exhibition come from other art collections. Weinberg said she brought together the Queens fashion and textile collection, which dates from the 1950s. From this, she was able to bring in about 20 different costumes and gowns. She also said there are selections on hand from the Louis Armstrong House Museum. The Daghlian Collection of Chinese Art also features items on hand at this exhibition. The Queens College Art Department included four prints for the exhibition as well. A selection of works of art from the Queens College Library are also in the exhibition, along with a series of artist books.

“Our primary interest is to bring students in and to engage them,” Weinberg said. “We want to open their minds up to the wonder of what art can be and the infinite variety of what it is. It’s really about us inciting their imaginations in any way that we can. When the students get to see the infinite variety of what we have in our collections, it doesn’t even matter what they are studying. Their minds are just opened up. It’s like taking them into a treasure chest.”

Godwin-Ternbach Museum Co-Director and Director of Education and Administration Maria Pio said she feels it is important for Queens College students to know the wealth of collections held by the school. Pio believes the students being able to see objects from each collection together under one roof can leave a big impact on them.

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Photo by the Godwin-Ternbach Museum

“Just for this exhibition, we have costumes, we have artifacts, we have paintings, we have sculpture,” Pio said. “There’s so much variety. These are all holdings of the college. I think it’s really important for students know that these exist and how [the students] can engage with them. For them to know that they can come here, take classes and have this readily accessible, I think that’s what really makes a difference.”

Pio also noted that select items from the exhibition are available for viewing via the Godwin-Ternbach Museum’s website, gtmuseum.org. There will also be programming available at the Godwin-Ternbach Museum, including upcoming artist talks and gallery conversations.

Planning for the next exhibition is already underway. According to Weinberg, it will be called “Ubuhle Women: Beading in the Art of Independence.” This traveling exhibition will be coming to the Godwin-Ternbach Museum next fall. It consists of beaded works of art by women in South Africa. These artworks have small seed beads that are hand-stitched onto black pieces of fabric and stretched like paintings. Each work is meant to tell scenes from the lives of the artists.

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