Museum of Art director Chris Bruce has not been content of late to just set up a traveling show and then send it back. He’d just as soon put the show together and make sure it gets seen as much as possible by putting it on the road. Bruce started with a major Roy Lichtenstein exhibition a couple of years ago. After arranging with collector Jordan Schnitzer to assemble the exhibition, he sent it around the West to seven other museums, from the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle to the Austin Art Museum in Texas, making it possible for over 117,000 people to see work by Lichtenstein that is otherwise unavailable.
“The Lichtenstein was an easy sell,” says Bruce. “We could have toured it forever, but didn’t want to wear out the prints.”
Bruce then organized a show of former WSU faculty member Gaylen Hansen’s work and sent it out to four other museums, including the Seattle Art Museum. Much of Hansen’s work had not been shown before, but came straight out of his studio.
Bruce observes that “collecting rare and amazing things” is not a real option for a museum the size of WSU’s. “What we can do,” he says, “is provide exhibitions for other people.
“We’ve hit about four out of five art museums in the Puget sound area over a period of three years,” he continues. “Each of these shows has an accessibility that is intentional. It’s a particular niche that seems to serve our audience well.”