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University Art Museum at 50

ALBANY, N.Y. (February 27, 2017) — An "enormous, lofty room" marked by “grand, fenestral walls and tall pilasters.” That is how the Albany Times Union described the University Art Museum upon its grand opening on Oct. 5, 1967. The critic went on to say the then “gallery” dictated a “feeling of freedom and space and the breaking down of barriers.”

Now in its 50th year, the University at Albany Art Museum continues to present contemporary art that is true to its founding ideals. Those were summarized by the man with lofty thoughts who was on hand to acknowledge — as well as provide — its inaugural exhibition.

New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, architect of the modern SUNY system and the essential force who drove the creation of the UAlbany Uptown Campus, told an audience of more than a thousand on hand the see Painting and Sculpture from the Nelson A. Rockefeller Collection of the importance of having a contemporary art museum that "presents new ideas through art and culture."

His collection exhibited that day featured 53 artworks by some of the most influential figures in 20th century modern art, including Braque, Calder, de Kooning, Klee, Miro, Marisol, Nevelson and Picasso.

In the more than 400 exhibitions that have graced its exhibition space since, the museum has remained true to Rockefeller’s guiding principle. Through exhibitions, programs, publications and collections, the museum’s leadership has sought to provide a forum for contemporary visual artists and for audiences that enriches the intellectual life of both the University and the community.

Designed by Edward Durrell Stone and recognized as an icon of late 20th century Modernist architecture, the museum’s 9,000-square-foot facility has been home to the work of emerging artists as well as those of regional, national or international reputation. The museum is part of the University’s dynamic learning environment, often presenting exhibitions and events in conjunction with academic departments, the NYS Writers Institute, and others.

In addition, throughout its 50 years, the museum has played a leadership role in the regional arts community.

The University Art Museum honors its legacy in 2017 with the presentation of a range of exhibitions that include one-person shows by Conor Backman, Dave McKenzie, Sara Greenberger Rafferty and Cameron Martin; the annual Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition; and When We Were Young: Rethinking Abstraction from the University at Albany Art Collections (1967–present).

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.