Director's Note

Looking west from the second floor of the Museum building, one has an impressive bird’s-eye view of the transformation of the east end of Washington University’s Danforth Campus. Our anticipation grows as we observe the dramatic changes occurring to the landscape, knowing that construction on the Museum’s expansion and new facade will soon begin. It is truly thrilling to be part of the largest construction project in the history of the campus, which includes not only the Museum expansion but also the new Anabeth and John Weil Hall for the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Henry A. and Elvira H. Jubel Hall and James M. McKelvey, Sr. Hall for the School of Engineering & Applied Science, the Gary M. Sumers Welcome Center, the Craig and Nancy Schnuck Pavilion, and Ann and Andrew Tisch Park. 

As we prepare for the upcoming expansion we are deeply honored by the ongoing foundational support of the Kemper family as well as the tremendous support of members and friends like you. This involvement has a profound impact on our ability to mount thought-provoking exhibitions, diversify our understanding of the collection, and host engaging and relevant programs—all aspects of our work that will continue to evolve as we grow. This is also an important moment to honor Washington University alumnus and benefactor Eric P. Newman, who passed away in fall 2017. He contributed much to the University, including sharing his important numismatics collection, which has been on display in the Newman Money Museum on the lower level of the Kemper Art Museum since 2006. 

We also want to recognize the generosity of Arthur and Sheila Prensky for their gifts to the Museum over the years. Three of our four spring exhibitions feature prints, many of which are on view thanks to the Prenskys’ thoughtful contributions. 

Postwar Prints and Multiples: Investigating the Collection presents printed and editioned artworks by leading figures in European and American abstraction, Pop and Op art, and Conceptual art from 1945 through the 1970s. On view in Barney A. Ebsworth Gallery and curated by Associate Curator Meredith Malone, the exhibition showcases lesser-known areas of depth in the Museum’s holdings in preparation for the collection’s more prominent display in the expanded galleries. 

For two related exhibitions we have collaborated with Washington University’s Island Press to highlight additional modern and contemporary prints in the collection. Island Press: Recent Prints, also on view in Ebsworth Gallery and curated by Malone, presents a diverse array of work by visiting artists working at the Press over the past decade. For the Museum’s Teaching Gallery, Lisa Bulawsky, professor of art and director of Island Press, and Tom Reed, senior lecturer and master printer of Island Press, have organized The New York Collection for Stockholm Portfolio—thirty prints created in 1973 by some of the most prominent American artists of the time. 

On a different note, we have taken inspiration from the transformations on campus to present Transformative Visions: Washington University’s East End, Then and Now, a historical perspective on the architectural evolution of this area. On view in the Garen Gallery, this exhibition brings together a selection of drawings, photographs, and models that help us look back as we move forward. The exhibition is curated by Leslie Markle, curator for public art, together with James Kolker, University architect and associate vice chancellor, and Eric Mumford, Rebecca and John Voyles Professor of Architecture in the Sam Fox School.

Indeed, as we look ahead, be sure to mark your calendars for the opening reception on May 4 for the 2018 MFA Thesis Exhibition, which will also be a celebration marking the temporary closing of the Museum at the end of May. I hope you will join us for this final slate of exhibitions until we reopen in fall 2019. I look forward to seeing you in the galleries—or at the second-floor window.

With best wishes,


Sabine Eckmann, PhD
William T. Kemper Director and Chief Curator