Stanford University's Cantor Arts Center Questions Art and Its Presentation in Museums

Summer and Fall 2004

Stanford, CA, April 20, 2004—The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University announces an experimental project to provoke and address questions frequently asked by visitors about art and its presentation in museums. Featuring objects from the Center's collection, "Question" will be open July 14, 2004 through January 2, 2005. Admission is free.

"We are not even referring to this as an 'exhibition,' because we want to break out of the boundaries that the term 'exhibition' sets up in people's minds," explained Patience Young, the Cantor Arts Center's curator for education. "We are throwing out our assumptions in order to challenge ourselves and engage visitors in new ways. As we distilled a list of queries from the general public and visiting students, we discovered that some of the most basic questions are the most provocative. 'What is artistic quality?'; 'where is the meaning in the work?'; and 'who decides what is art or who is an artist?' have stimulated animated discussions among the staff."

Cantor Arts Center curators and other staff, working in teams, have selected objects from the Center's comprehensive collection of 26,000 works to provoke and illustrate their assigned question. Since the Center's collection spans the history of art and represents diverse world cultures, each team has been able to juxtapose objects from different epochs and cultures to reinforce a point or illuminate differing views.

The project, supported by the Center's Clumeck Programs Fund, will be presented in the Pigott Family Gallery, the Center's premier, 4200-square-foot space used for changing exhibitions. However, the project will also reach into many of the Center's galleries, where information will extend the "Question" theme for other works in the museum's collection. In addition, there will be means for visitor response to questions and ideas raised by this project.

PROGRAMS offered in conjunction with the project include films, gallery talks, and public discussions. For details, call 650-725-3155.

Close Encounters: Weekly in-gallery conversations with Center staff, July - December. FREE
Discussions: Public, docent-guided discussions exploring "Question" themes on Thursdays at 12:15, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. FREE
Course: A five-week course on "Question," titled: The Question is Art [ART 158] offered five Wednesday evenings, starting October 6, through Stanford's Continuing Studies Program, co-taught by the Center's staff. To register, go to: Continuing Studies Courses. FEE
Conference: The Nature of Inquiry
November 6, 1–4 pm, Annenberg Auditorium, Cummings Art Building. FREE
Stanford faculty discuss how they formulate and research questions in their respective fields:Gavin Jones, Professor of English; David Kelley, Professor in Mechanical Engineering; Irv Weissman, Director, Stanford University Institute for Cancer and Stem Cell Biology; Gail Wight, Professor, Art.
Organized in collaboration with Stanford's Continuing Studies Program.

VISITOR INFORMATION Cantor Arts Center is open Wednesday – Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday until 8 p.m. Admission is free. The Center is located on the Stanford University campus off Palm Drive, at Museum Way. Call 650-723-4177 for information.

Curators discuss which pieces from the Center's collection of more than 25,000 art objects will best provoke and illustrate the questions presented in the exhibition.