Published September 14, 2018
The UB Anderson Gallery houses a globally renowned art collection in a restored former public school building in Buffalo’s University Heights neighborhood.
Now, thanks to a network infrastructure investment from UBIT and the College of Arts and Sciences, the gallery is poised to bring the benefits of UB’s research and creative work to the world.
The Anderson Gallery’s celebrated collection, and its location in residential Buffalo, make it uniquely positioned to advance UB’s mission of bringing educational excellence to the community.
But being a part of UB, while being physically apart from UB, poses some challenges.
“We were on a residential wireless network, like you might have in your home,” says Robert Scalise, the gallery’s acting director, “and we couldn’t rely on it.”
For research, the gallery staff would run up and down stairs all day, printing out notes and transferring photos manually from a digital camera. Their card catalogue system dated back to the collection’s beginnings in the 1950s.
But with an investment from UBIT and the College of Arts and Sciences, the gallery was finally connected to UB’s networks for internet, phones and alarm systems in early summer 2018. Now, the gallery benefits from speeds well above the national average.
The gallery has since started using iPads and UBbox to document its nearly 10,000 unique pieces digitally, making its collection more accessible for viewing by the public and for research by UB faculty and students.
“Not only does this help us keep up with contemporary methods for running a gallery,” Scalise explains, “it benefits our students and interns, too, since they get valuable work experience that includes up-to-date information about how a museum is run.”
UB students attend anthropology and arts management classes at the gallery in two on-site classrooms, and conduct research using the collection. The gallery offers internships in curatorial assistance, marketing and public relations, art handling and more.
For this reason, Brice Bible, vice president and chief information officer, says UBIT’s commitment to bringing the gallery in line with UB’s high standards for teaching technology is just beginning.
“Being connected to UB’s networks offers entirely new opportunities for teaching and learning,” Bible says. “Now our goal is to modernize the classrooms in the Anderson Gallery to bring them up to the standard set by our centralized campus classrooms, so instructors and students can take advantage of those opportunities.”
Robin G. Schulze, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, says that when people talk about great educational art institutions in Buffalo, “they should be mentioning the UB Anderson Gallery.”
“By improving the gallery’s teaching technology and creating more educational opportunities in the gallery’s unique spaces, we have a real opportunity to improve the Anderson’s visibility,” Schulze says.
To Scalise, these commitments are a sign of UB’s continuing investment in the gallery, and its recognition that the gallery is a vital resource for the community, both locally and globally.
In the art world, the Anderson Gallery has a global reach. It holds the archives and records of the Martha Jackson Gallery, a prominent New York City gallery from the mid-20th century specializing in modern American and European art. Jackson’s son, David Anderson, founded the Anderson Gallery in University Heights in 1991, and donated it to UB in 2000.
“Everybody knows about us,” Scalise says. “We loan artwork all over the world. We have a Joan Mitchell painting that will be traveling to San Francisco and Baltimore before heading to the Guggenheim and eventually Europe. That exhibit will have UB’s name on it.”
Because the gallery is also so accessible to the local community, Scalise says it helps further UB’s mission of “bringing the benefits of its research, scholarship and creative activity … to global and local communities in ways that impact and positively change the world.”
“As arts programs are increasingly at risk in elementary and high schools,” he says, “it’s so important that UB is supporting our programs, which are in a residential community and designed to be accessible to people who may not get a chance to visit commercial art galleries.”
The updated technology in the gallery will allow Scalise and his team to keep up as the gallery’s collection expands: This year, they’re receiving a donation of hundreds of photographs to add to the gallery’s collection. “We’re always growing. This investment will help us plan for that growth,” Scalise says.
It will also help the gallery further its goal of making critical art and education accessible to all. Staff is in the beginning stages of a long-term goal to digitize the Craven’s World collection and turn it into a virtual museum that anyone can visit and view online.
Wonderful news that this long-term goal for the UB Anderson Gallery has been achieved. Congratulations to Acting Director Bob Scalise and gallery staff! Thank you CAS Dean Robin Schulze for your support of this vital step for immeasurably increasing accessibility to this important collection and archives.