PULLMAN, Wash. — Seattle area art curator Chris Bruce has agreed to serve as director of the Washington State University’s Museum of Art. He will begin his new position June 9.
Robert Bates, provost and academic vice president, said he was pleased Bruce accepted the appointment. “Mr. Bruce has a wide range of experiences with art organizations and artists across the country. These experiences uniquely position him to bring excitement and vision to our arts, museums and community arts enrichment programs. I look forward to working with him as we advance the mission of the Museum of Art,” the provost said.
“The timing is really great with the president’s interest in interdisciplinary programs,” Bruce said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to expand the special personality and identity of the museum by utilizing the strengths of the university and the region.”
Bruce served as senior curator at Seattle’s Henry Art Gallery, where he worked for 15 years and his exhibits were seen all over the world. He also served as director of the former Meyerson & Nowinski Gallery in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square and, until last year, as director of curatorial and collections at Experience Music Project. While at Meyerson & Nowinski, he served as president of Seattle Art Museum’s Contemporary Arts Council.
Bruce earned his bachelor’s degree in English from San Diego State University and a master’s degree from San Jose State University.
The Museum of Art was established in the fall of 1974. It was given the responsibility for the care, maintenance and promotion of the permanent collections; curating and presenting exhibitions in the museum gallery; curating and assisting statewide exhibitions in local communities and nationally; teaching a museum procedures course; acting as a resource for the university and general public; and developing complementary programming such as symposia, special lectures, films, didactic labels, catalogues and gallery tours.
The museum’s exhibitions have been local, national and international in their scope. Faculty and graduate students of the Department of Fine Arts are featured each year with their own exhibitions. Other departments and programs on campus have contributed their expertise to the exhibitions – Departments of Anthropology; Architecture; Clothing, Interior Design and Textiles; Home Economics; Theatre Arts; Asian-American Program; International Programs; Office of Continuing Education; etc. International exhibitions shown have been from Indonesia, India, China (Taiwan), Japan and Africa. Local and Northwest artists have been invited for exhibitions.
WSU Museum of Arts Highlights
The first endowment received by the Museum of Art was the John Mathews Friel Memorial Art Lecturer Fund established in 1975. The endowment was given by Catherine and Jack Friel in memory of their son, John, who was an outstanding artist working in Los Angeles at the time of his death.
In 1977, a support group was planned and organized with a membership drive initiated in the fall of that year. This became the Friends of the Museum of Art. The group has continued to work closely with the museum staff to assist with funding of exhibitions and special events; to volunteer time for installing exhibitions, planning receptions; and contributing time and energies wherever needed. The Friends have also undertaken special tours and gala activities for members and the public. In February 1987, the Friends established a Museum of Art Endowment Fund.
In 1994, the Museum celebrated its 20th anniversary, marked by plans to redesign the Fine Arts Center Plaza. The Endowment grew to $79,000.
A capsulated view of the past 20 years includes: 200 exhibitions, more than one-half million visitors, expansion of the permanent collection from 286 to 2,049 works.
In 2000, the museum received a gift of nearly $1 million from the estate of Mildred Bissinger. The John W. and Mildred Bissinger Excellence Endowment was created with the gift, proceeds from the endowment will provide support for a variety of areas of the museum’s programming, particularly education outreach and exhibition support.