Published August 29, 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, it’s poised to bring the benefits of UB’s research and creative work to the world.
The 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” said Robert Scalise, Acting Director of the gallery, “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 1950’s.
Thanks to 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 their collection more accessible for viewing by the public, and for research by UB students and faculty.
“Not only does this help us keep up with contemporary methods for running a gallery,” Scalise said, “But 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, University at Buffalo VPCIO Brice Bible says that 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 said. “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 is dean of the University at Buffalo’s College of Arts and Sciences. “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,” Dr. Schulze said.
To Robert 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 said. “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, 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, it’s so important that UB is supporting our programs,” Scalise said, “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 their collection. “We’re always growing. This investment will help us plan for that growth,” Scalise said.
It will also help the gallery further their goal of making critical art and education accessible to all: they are currently in the beginning stages of a long-term goal to digitize their Craven’s World collection and turn it into a virtual museum that anyone can visit and view online.