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ASU Art Museum launches nationally significant Ceramics Research Center

February 12, 2002

TEMPE, Ariz. – ASU Art Museum will take its world-class ceramics collection to a new level March 1, when it opens its new Ceramics Research Center in Tempe.

The center will house ASU Art Museum’s extensive ceramics collection, comprised of more than 3,000 pieces and featuring what is probably the country’s largest and best collection of 20th century and contemporary British and American ceramics.

The center is one of only a handful of facilities in the world that combine access to an extensive ceramics collection, significant archival research materials and exhibition space. It is anticipated that the Ceramics Research Center will become a national and international destination for both the on-site study and enjoyment of ceramics, and in the future, on-line research.

The center will provide 7,200 square feet of gallery and storage space just north of the Nelson Fine Arts Center, which houses the ASU Art Museum. The bulk of the collection will be on view for students, scholars and the public. Ceramic works from the collection can be requested for close viewing by appointment.

The Ceramics Research Center also will be home to the archive of a lifelong scholar in the field, Susan Harnly Peterson. The Peterson Archive will be the core of what museum staff hope will be the definitive resource in the field for ceramics documentation. Peterson and the staff of the ASU Art Museum envision this as a place to find information on the artists, history, aesthetics and formulae of ceramic art. They anticipate this resource will be supported by a database available on-line so that the reach of the CRC can become as global as the Internet and evolve with technology.

To celebrate the grand opening of this important facility, ASU Art Museum will host a weekend of festivities March 1-3. The weekend celebration will include Great Bowls of Fire, an evening gala with a silent auction, sale and artist performances; a free public lecture by internationally known artist Stephen de Staebler; a bus tour of collectors’ homes and an open studio event at the studios of ASU ceramics graduate students and other local ceramists. Tickets for the weekend events are now available.

Under the directorship of Rudy Turk, the ASU Art Museum collection acquired works by ceramists such as Peter Voulkos and Maria Martinez, and in 1968 began actively collecting and exhibiting ceramics. The museum used a matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1977 to solidify and strengthen its holdings in contemporary American ceramics.

Over the years, regional collectors and supporters, including Stéphane Janssen, Sara and David Lieberman, and Joanne and James Rapp, have helped to steadily build a collection of national importance. In 1998, the museum was the recipient of the Anne and Sam Davis collection of 315 modern and contemporary ceramic works by 120 British and American ceramists.

Future plans for the center include a permanent, specially designed space; a curator to care for and continue to research the collection; and a dedicated endowment to fund collecting, conservation, publications, exhibitions and educational programming.

With these goals in mind, an exciting new group, CL_ (Ceramics Leaders of ASU) has formed to support the center. The group will focus on supporting the center’s educational and research activities. Membership in CL_ entitles individuals to receive special members-only invitations to CL_ events, including salons and trips. Ceramics collector and arts supporter Sara Lieberman is chairwoman of CL_ and of the grand opening weekend.

The schedule for the grand opening weekend includes:

8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., March 1:Bus tour of collectors’ homes
11 a.m. – 4 p.m., March 2:ASU ceramics graduate student and Artists Advisory Committee member open studios
6 p.m., March 2:Great Bowls of Fire, opening gala at the center
CL_ Invitational silent auction and sale
- opening of the Ceramics Research Center
- cocktails and dinner
- artist performances, including Flame Organ performance by Louis Katz
- dancing
1 p.m., March 3:Public reception at the Ceramics Research Center
2:30 p.m., March 3:Lecture by internationally known artist,
Stephen de Staebler

Tickets for the weekend package cost $450, which includes gala seat, bus tour and other events. Tickets to Saturday night’s opening gala cost $150.

The ASU Art Museum is a division of The Katherine K. Herberger College of Fine Arts at Arizona State University. For more information, members of the public should call the ASU Art Museum at (480) 965-2787.

Editor’s Note: Print quality digital images are available for downloading from the Herberger College Web site at

Media Contact:
Jennifer Pringle