Nationally significant Ceramics Research Center now open at ASU Art Museum

TEMPE, Ariz. – ASU Art Museum has opened its new Ceramics Research Center in Tempe, taking the museum’s world-class ceramics collection to a new level.

The center houses 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. More than half of the collection – over 1,500 works – are on display at any one time in the new center.

The Ceramics Research 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 provides 7,200 square feet of gallery and storage space just north of the Nelson Fine Arts Center, which houses the ASU Art Museum. Ceramic works from the collection can be requested for close viewing by appointment.

The Ceramics Research Center also is home to the archive of a lifelong scholar in the field, Susan Harnly Peterson. The Peterson Archive is 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 and aesthetics 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.

Under the original 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.

Since then, 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.

A promised gift from David and Sara Lieberman will add another 200 important pieces to the collection, both enhancing and expanding the collection’s area of emphasis, including the important addition of numerous works by contemporary Native American artists. The Liebermans have also made a substantial monetary donation toward running costs for the center, effective immediately.

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.

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.

Media Contact:
Jennifer Pringle