Director of Haggerty Museum resigns
Released: Dec. 12, 2006
Having served 22 years as director of the Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University, Dr. Curtis Carter has decided to leave the museum and return to his position as a tenured professor in the Department of Philosophy. He will remain with the museum until a successor is appointed.
Dr. Carter plans to write a book on dance aesthetics and edit a collection of his Haggerty exhibition essays. He will also continue preparations for an exhibition of the works of Cuban modern artist Wifredo Lam; the exhibition is scheduled to open at the Haggerty in October 2007, followed by exhibitions at several other U.S. museums. Dr. Carter also intends to remain active as a consultant and lecturer in the art world both locally and internationally.
“Dr. Carter brought unique gifts to his role as founding director of the museum,” Provost Madeline Wake said. “He not only created outstanding exhibitions, but he also convened community leaders for annual programs on the arts and social justice. His perspective as a philosophy professor, his creativity and his flair were important in the development of the museum,” she said.
President Robert A. Wild, S.J., praised Dr. Carter for his ability to attract widespread support for the museum. “The Friends of the Haggerty Museum have helped the university build an admirable art collection that is accessible not only to our students but to the community at large,” he said. “Dr. Carter played a significant role in that success.”
“In college circles and also in art circles, the Haggerty Museum of Art is held in high regard,” said Anna Clair Gaspar, president of Haggerty Friends. “The museum has made an impact on the world of art around the country and the world. Dr. Carter has been a stellar leader and we have been blessed to have him the past 22 years,” she said.
The vision for the Haggerty Museum of Arts dates back to the mid 1970s. As chair of the university’s Committee on Fine Arts, Dr. Carter lamented the lack of a permanent exhibit space for Marquette’s art collection. The Women’s Council offered to fund a room to house the artwork, but Dr. Carter’s vision was bigger. “We were able to attract people with resources who believed in the project, saw the need for it and helped us realize it,” he recalls. “I’m grateful for the opportunity – and challenge – that this project has offered.”
Dr. Carter views the museum, which opened in 1984, as a “laboratory for learning through the arts” with three purposes: (1) To serve the educational needs of Marquette faculty and students as well as from other educational institutions in the greater Milwaukee area; (2) to serve children in the city “whose art offerings are increasingly shrinking;” and (3) to provide an accessible, welcoming venue with educational value for all members of the community.
“We established from the ground up a university museum that has earned a national and international reputation in a relatively short period of time,” Dr. Carter says. “The museum offers high quality exhibitions and collections that attract attention from visitors including scholars worldwide.”
“The Haggerty Musuem is, among university collections, truly one of the best. What Curtis Carter has done to build that museum takes real talent. His patience, dedication and skill are the reason he has been able to accomplish creating such a fine collection,” said Gerard Stora of the Wildenstein & Company Gallery in New York City.
The Haggerty Museum’s permanent collection of more than 8,000 pieces ranges from Old Masters to very contemporary artwork, including multimedia pieces. “Our collection doesn’t follow conventional rules but consists of works that have some special interest, some unique quality that is particular to this location and this museum,” Dr. Carter says. “We look for the unusual, the interesting – always with high quality in the range of a modest budget.” Selected works from the permanent collection are displayed on a regular basis.
The museum’s culturally diverse exhibitions very often feature young artists or those relatively unknown in the United States, according to Carter. He cites the current Art and Conflicts in Central America exhibition, the first showing of its kind in this country, as an example.
Dr. Carter is particularly proud of the Romanticism and Cynicism in Contemporary Art exhibition mounted in the 1980s. “Our exhibition captured the essence of the East Village movement that was in vogue but then dissolved,” he explains. The Leonaert Bramer exhibition in 1993 resurrected interest in a 17th century painter. The 2002 exhibition of 40 paintings by French artist Jean Fautrier was the first North American showing of work by the European modernist whom Dr. Carter had researched for nearly 10 years.
The diversity of its exhibitions has been an important trademark of the museum. Dr. Carter notes that Haggerty exhibitions have covered the art of sports and video games as well as such famous artists as Marc Chagall and Andy Warhol. “We want to attract different audiences, to art – and to the university,” he says.
Declining to give his age, saying that “Age is a matter of mind and energy,” Dr. Carter promises to be busy. In addition to his writing and consulting, he will continue as an officer of the International Aesthetics Association and as a consultant and lecturer on the arts worldwide.
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