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Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

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Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

The Observer

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CWRU Department of Art History and Art granted $500,000 to revise new joint-doctoral program with its neighbor

Last January, a committee of curators and art education professionals from the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) and art historians from Case Western Reserve University convened with ideas about how to make the newly-revised joint-doctoral program in art history and art as relevant as possible to the 21st century.

The CWRU Department of Art History and Art is finally launching the new program next fall in conjunction with the CMA with the support of two grants totaling $500,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“The idea of revising the program has been something the department has been talking about for several years,” said Dr. Catherine Scallen, chair of the Department of Art History and Art.

The doctoral program in art history and art at CWRU has had an active relationship with the CMA for 45 years; this is the first revision the program has undergone.

“The whole point of this new doctoral program is that the teaching and research will be object-focused, so even though we’ll be covering a wide variety of periods and countries, it’s all about working with specific works of art,” Scallen said.

Under the new structure, doctoral students will be required to participate in a year-long internship with the CMA, take two years of coursework, and take two new courses – one on materials, methods, and physical examination of artwork taught by a professional conservator, and a collections seminar devoted to planning and researching an exhibition for the CMA.

The grant also includes incentives for the CMA curators to teach classes within the program. “We’re always working closely to make that an even more active connection,” Scallen said.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a major foundation for humanities and educational institutions, awards grants by invitation only.

“I think [the foundation] recognized the incredible opportunities with these two major institutions right across the street from each other, and that we can build upon a strong, long-standing relationship and make it even more dynamic,” Scallen said.

“This education with objects is seen as increasingly rare in the doctoral programs, and we can provide an educational experience that almost no one else is doing,” she said.

The object-based doctoral education in art history and art focuses on the individual work itself, rather than its ties to broad social movements or the artist’s biography, Scallen explained.

“It’s the idea of carrying that idea straight through a doctoral education,” she said.

The department hopes that the new students in the revised program will deliver public lectures and play a role in community education as well as act as teaching assistants at CWRU.

“This is an opportunity that we’re very grateful for and very excited about,” she said. “President Barbara Snyder, Dean Cyrus Taylor, and CMA director David Franklin all helped make this possible.”

“If we’re going to continue to have a museum where we feature individual works of art, people have to understand how to look at them, understand them, and why they still matter in a world that seems increasingly virtual.”

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