In 2012, photographer and professor Robert von Sternberg mobilized a group of artists that collectively wished to express their gratitude to museums and universities for broadly supporting their development as fine artists. Firsthand access to study diverse examples of art photography, held in public institutions, had provided them an invaluable resource and inspiration during their formative years. It continued to be an asset throughout their careers as artists and art instructors. Von Sternberg’s idea was to approach like-minded artists willing to donate their works of art to institutions that would employ and benefit from these gifts. With the assistance of fellow artist Darryl Curran and gallerist Pamela Schoenberg, the Museum Project was born.
The Museum Project’s initial group of artists consisted of seven individuals working in assorted photographic media. That number has more than doubled, along with an expansion of media to include digital imagery created without the use of a camera. In 2016, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art received a bequest from the artists’ collective. Their generous gift included 23 individual prints and a portfolio combining 12 images with 8 letterpress poems, created by 9 different artists. Although the museum has recently exhibited individual works from the collection, this is JCSM’s first opportunity to present representative examples assembled in a larger number.
Auburn’s museum and community salute the Museum Project’s intent to “give back” to the museum world. The number of beneficiaries now approaches 100 museums. As the artists on exhibit here readily acknowledge, personal exposure to works of art was of prime importance as each set out on his or her creative path. It is our desire that future generations here benefit similarly from the Museum Project’s efforts.