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Schnitzer Museum announces naming gift from Patricia W. and Samuel H. Smith

Closeup of Ann Saberi in the WSU art museum.
Ann Saberi, collection manager at the museum, will project manage the classroom buildout.

Washington State University’s art museum is one step closer to creating a collection classroom on the Pullman campus, thanks to a $52,500 gift by Patricia W. and Samuel H. Smith to the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art WSU. The Smiths’ donation funds the construction and equipment needed to create the collection classroom, a special learning space within the home of WSU’s permanent art collection. 

Once the work is complete, the collection classroom will provide a functional space for class visits, workshops, trainings, and research, bringing WSU’s permanent art collection into the 21st century with the inclusion of technologies which connect the space with artists, scholars, and collection experts in-person and online.

The new space will be named the Patricia W. and Samuel H. Smith Collection Classroom.

Patricia Smith said their contribution reflects a commitment to sharing the arts with students, staff, faculty, and community members.

“We believe that viewing and studying art can enrich learning in all areas,” Patricia Smith said.  “This classroom will provide resources to enhance those studies.”

The creation of a state-of-the-art collection classroom within the Collection Study Center (CSC) will contribute an ideal space for academic research, interdisciplinary collaboration, and professional training.

“This generous gift from Pat and Sam Smith will help us create a functional and beautiful classroom space for both in-person and virtual learning within the CSC,” explained Ann Saberi, collections manager for the museum. “We are looking forward to providing improved access to our permanent collection for students, faculty, and the community.”

Student standing in front of shelves containing several pieces of artwork.
Student admiring work from the museum’s permanent collection.

The museum’s CSC is unique within the WSU system. It provides a portal for academic research and professional training through personalized access to the important works in WSU’s permanent art collection.

The CSC, located within the WSU Fine Arts building, houses the Museum’s 4000+ objects. A $270,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation in 2018 made the initial opening phase of this space possible. The impact of the Smiths’ gift is multi-dimensional, granting a greater range of access to WSU’s permanent art collection, and collaborative scholarly research among colleagues.

“The Collection Classroom will fulfill our essential goal of bringing visual culture to a greater degree of public access. Facilitating our visitors’ interaction with these thought-provoking objects for learning, inspiration, and enjoyment is something we all look forward to. We are exceedingly grateful to the Smiths for making this vision a reality,” said Ryan Hardesty, director of the museum.

The new classroom will provide WSU classes a place to meet and explore important works in the museum’s collection such as photos by Andy Warhol while being joined on Zoom by curators and historians from anywhere in the world. Classroom connectivity accords the CSC the ability to reach the WSU System and Global Campus, while dedicated computers enhance collection access and allow for object comparison, as well as enhance workflow for staff.

Proposed work would begin in the summer of 2022 and is slated to be complete within the 2022-23 academic year.

About Patricia and Samuel Smith

Samuel H. Smith was selected by the Board of Regents in 1985 to serve as the institution’s 8th president and served for 15 years, concluding his presidency in June of 2000. During his presidency he established campuses in Spokane, the Tri-Cities, and Vancouver, growing WSU in size and stature. Under Smith’s leadership, the university received worldwide recognition for its teaching and research as he strengthened undergraduate and graduate education, placing an international imprint on programs, and increasing opportunities for women and minorities.

President Emeritus Samuel Smith and his wife, Patricia, want students to receive the best possible education across all disciplines at WSU. The couple generously invests in multiple areas that benefit students university-­wide, but they have specifically focused on the art museum’s exhibitions and collections. “These two entities are extremely important to a well-rounded educational experience regardless of a student’s chosen field of study,” said Patricia Smith. 

The Smiths helped procure the world-class artwork displayed in the Samuel H. Smith Center for Undergraduate Education (SCUE) on the Pullman campus, and worked to raise the funds necessary to build the new museum. After the opening, they continued to serve on the museum’s advisory council until they moved back east to Pennsylvania. While Samuel served as president of WSU, Patricia was a longtime docent at the museum. Their commitment to WSU touches everyone on campus and in the community.

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