Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Museum and its branches bring art to rural Pa.

In 1975, Sean M. Sullivan decided he wanted to create a museum that gave rural Pennsylvanians access to art for free. He discovered the answer was not one museum but four of them, writes Kurt Shaw of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. (T-R photo by Guy Wathen shows a wall of paintings, part of the current “Chuck Olson: Visual Histories” exhibit.)

"Although the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art -- or 'SAMA,' as it is affectionately called by most -- is considered one organization, it actually is four museums," Shaw writes. "With locations in Altoona in Blair County, Johnstown and Loretto in Cambria County, and Ligonier Valley in Westmoreland, it is widely recognized as the most successful longstanding satellite museum system in the country."

Sullivan took the idea from the success of the Boston Museum's satellite branch in Quincy Market, a major tourist attraction. Using that as a model, Sullivan led a group of investors to open temporary and then permanent exhibition spaces throughout the region.

"What all of the facilities do is they minimize cost, maximize resources, and make the collections and activities of the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art directly accessible to a rather non-mobile public," Michael M. Strueber, chairman of Fine Arts Department at Saint Francis College in Loretto, Pa., where the museum has one of its branches.

The SAMA operates on an annual budget of $1 million — most of it comes from fundraising — and it offers a successful model for how to bring art to rural areas as well as provide educational opportunities in those communities. (Read more)

No comments: