By: Lauren Garabedian
“We have free opportunities for students to come and engage,” Tara Walker, Curator of Education and Visitor Engagement at Castellani Art Museum, said. “When students come, maybe it’s not on a tour, maybe it’s not because of the collection. If students come to just do yoga or grab a coffee and donut from our Front Porch Party, I’m happy with that. Castellani is a beautiful place to come and just find a little peace.”
The mission of the museum is to inspire creativity and learning within the campus community and beyond. Many students at Niagara walk by the Castellani Art Museum without walking in and seeing the amazing free opportunities for all majors. Opened from Thursday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. to the public.
Armand Castellani was the creator of Tops Supermarket Franchise and when he retired he became a self taught art collector. He and his wife Eleanor Castellani are the original founders of the museum in 1990 and they donated their art collection to Niagara University. Their collection actually creates two thirds of the artwork at Castellani Art Museum. Castellani has over 6,000 pieces of art ranging from Pablo Picasso and Joan Mitchell to Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali; all the artwork is authentic and one of a kind.
The Castellani Museum, along with other museums worldwide, only displays 2-3 percent of collections while the other 98 percent of ownership are in storage. The showcases are displayed in chronological order around the room and usually each room has its own theme.
“We want to create these thematic shows and these exhibits that tell a story,” Walker said. “You can only use a certain amount of artwork. 100 years ago museums were different and would put all artwork on display to showcase rather than educate.”
Niagara University’s Art History Department offers students of any major to take an elective class that creates the Educational Gallery in the museum. According to Walker, the class allows students to create a gallery and choose the theme of the showcase, the artworks for the showcase, to write labels for the artwork, learn how to hang the artwork and create an opening reception that is free to the public. The educational Gallery allows students to select paintings from the vault that they want on display and curate the gallery as well.
As of right now, the Educational Gallery is displaying a collection from a four week long summer program from July to August. It is a collaboration with the Niagara University Theater Department that is half of visual arts and half performance arts. The group of campers created labels for each of the paintings of their own interpretation. The first paragraph of the label teaches the students about the artwork and the second paragraph is formed from the campers.
“The Educational Galler is really important because it’s hands on learning for Niagara University students and are completely curated by them,” Walker explained. “It allows for an applied sense of learning and practical access to the collections.”
This collection will be on display until the end of October. As of Nov. 21, 2019 Marian Granfield’s, Director of Art History Museum Studies, class will display their Educational Gallery showcase till March of 2020. On Nov. 21st, 2019 there will be an open reception for the new Educational Gallery showcase from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and will be curated by the students. This event is free to the public. From April to July of 2020, Edward Millar, Curator of Folk Arts at Castellani Art Museum, will have his class showcase their creation for the Educational Gallery till July. Then it’ll rotate back to Walker’s Summer Camp program.
“Look at collections of artwork like chapters in a book that when put together, tells a story,” Walker exclaimed.