de Saisset Museum

South Bay's free museum of art and history

Past Classroom Connections: Acquisitions for Diversity

Acquisitions for Diversity is a collaborative project between the de Saisset Museum staff and SCU faculty. Through this integrated education model, students take part in the acquisitions process as the Museum builds and diversifies its collection. These projects are sponsored through grants and/or individual giving, allowing the Museum, which does not have an acquisitions budget, to purchase works of art.


The de Saisset Museum partners with a faculty member in the Department of Art and Art History to identify a collection area that supports the Museum's mission, diversifies the collection, and compliments the professor's course offerings. Students who are enrolled in the class learn about the significance of the Museum's holdings, the importance of collections care, and the collecting goals of the institution. They also take part in discussions about the educational value and exhibition potential of the works under consideration. Students then prepare and deliver presentations on the potential acquisitions, ultimately making the final selection of which artwork(s) will be purchased for the collection.


Through Acquisitions for Diversity, students enjoy a rare, behind-the-scenes experience of museum operations. They become involved with the acquisitions process from start to finish, ultimately walking away with a better understanding of the importance of museums and their collections.



Acquisitions for Diversity: African American Artists and the Visual Arts
Winter and Spring 2006

In 2006, the de Saisset Museum embarked upon the first innovative Acquisitions for Diversity project. Staff at the de Saisset partnered with former SCU professor Bridget R. Cooks and her classes on African American Women in the Visual Arts and African Americans and Photography to select works by African American artists that would enhance the Museum's collection and build new educational opportunities for the SCU community and beyond. Through these collaborations, the de Saisset acquired works by Carrie Mae Weems, Sheila Pree Bright, and Chester Higgins, Jr. There works were subsequently featured in an exhibition titled Acquisitions for Diversity: Recent Additions to the Permanent Collection. This project was co-sponsored by Santa Clara University's Center for Multicultural Learning.


Acquisitions for Diversity: Works by Native California Artists
Spring 2007

In Spring 2007, the Museum undertook its second Acquisitions for Diversity project, partnering with SCU Assistant Professor Kate Morris and students in her Native American Art: Special Topics course to select art by contemporary Native California artists. Prior to this collaboration, the Museum's collection included work by only one contemporary Native California artist. Through Acquisitions for Diversity, which was funded through the Center for Multicultural Learning, the de Saisset accepted three photographs by Dugan Aguilar, one serigraph by Jean LaMarr, a painting by Rick Bartow, and a lithograph by Frank LaPena into the collection.

The experience was rewarding to all involved. As participating student Maggie Kaufman explains, "Working with the acquisitions project was an invaluable experience for me. I feel it was a great way to utilize many of the things I've learned as an art history major in a way that will benefit the future students of Santa Clara. I absolutely recommend that projects like these continue to be offered to students!!!"


Acquisitions for Diversity: Women in the Visual Arts
Winter 2008

In Winter 2008, the de Saisset Museum collaborated with Associate Professor Andrea Pappas and her Women and the Visual Arts class on the third Acquisitions for Diversity project. Through a successful program, students selected works by Hung Liu, Squeak Carnwath, Sue Coe, and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith for the de Saisset's permanent collection. This project was funded through the Marmor Foundation.