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Acquisitions Projects

Since 2006, the de Saisset Museum and Santa Clara University’s Department of Art and Art History have collaborated on eight acquisitions projects, through which SCU students select artworks for the museum's permanent collection, resulting in a total of forty-five works purchased. Many of these projects were specifically part of the Acquisitions for Diversity program that enables the de Saisset to pursue its dedication to exhibit and collect works of art that showcase under-recognized or under-appreciated artists and demographics, and to involve students in the process.

How the Projects Work

Funds are identified through a grant or individual donor to support an acquisitions project. The de Saisset Museum partners with faculty to identify an area of collecting that complements the faculty member's teaching and speaks to the museum's collecting goals. A short list of available works is identified by the museum's staff in tandem with faculty.

Students enrolled in the course visit the museum to learn about its mission and core values and to gain an understanding of how the museum's collecting goals support that mission. They learn about the de Saisset's current holdings and its collecting plan. They discuss collections management and address questions related to long-term care. They also consider the educational value of the collection with respect to integrated education and exhibition potential.

Students research the work under consideration and present their arguments to the class. After each work has been considered, the class votes and decides which piece or pieces will be purchased for the collection.

Previous Acquisitions Projects

Winter 2019: Contemporary Asian Artists addressing Nature and Philosophy

Aligned with faculty member Heather Clydesdale's ARTH66 Fabricating Nature in East Asia course, students explored works by contemporary Asian artists and ultimately selected works by Kunlin He, Tsherin Sherpa, and Linda Yao for purchase.

Winter 2018: Contemporary Native Women Artists

Working with Adjunct Faculty member Mario Caro in 2018, the museum completed its seventh acquisition project and second acqusition project focused on Native artists. This particular course and related project focused on Native women artists with connections to the Bay Area. Through a generous CIVA grant through the Hearst Foundation, students selected nine works total with multiple pieces by Mercedes Dorame, Katie Dorame, Sarah Sense, and Sarah Biscarra Dilley entering the collection.

Spring 2016: Photography & the American West

In conjunction with Bridget Gilman's Art History 197: Photography and the American West, students ultimately selected four pieces, with works by Anthony Hernandez, Katy Grannan, Janet Delaney, and Roger Minick entering the collection. 

Winter 2016: Asian Artists from the Bay Area

In 2016 the museum held our fifth acquisition project working with faculty member Karen Fraser on a projected focused on Asian artists working in the Bay Area.  Through this project, artworks by Irene Poon, Hung Liu, and George Miyasaki were accessioned into the museum's collection. 

Spring 2015: Art & Sustainability

In 2015 we completed our fourth acquisitions project. Partnering with Kate Morris, Associate Professor in the Department of Art & Art History, the project focused on sculptural works by Bay Area women artists who work with recycled, reused or sustainable materials. Students in Prof. Morris' Post Modern Art class were provided with a list of 48 works by six artists to choose from. They considered the works within the context of Post Modern Art and the museum's collection. They visited the artist-in-residence program at San Francisco Recology to gain more understanding about art and sustainability. They researched, spoke with the artists, and visited their studios. Finally, with a budget of $15,000, they selected five pieces by Mari Andrews and three by Val Britton. Their project was funded by a grant award from the Hearst Foundation.

Young Chinese girl dressed in traditional clothing leaning back in repose.

Winter 2008: Women in the Visual Arts

In Winter 2008, the de Saisset Museum collaborated with Associate Professor Andrea Pappas and her Women and the Visual Arts class on an Acquisitions for Diversity project focused on growing the museum's collection of works by female artists. Through the project, students selected works by Hung Liu, Squeak Carnwath, Sue Coe, and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith for the permanent collection. Funding for the project was provided through the Marmor Foundation.

Painting of a coyote by Native California artist Rick Bartow.

Spring 2007: Works by Native California Artists

In Spring 2007, the museum undertook an Acquisitions for Diversity project in partnership 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 Office 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!!!"

Winter and Spring 2006: African American Artists and the Visual Arts

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 Office for Multicultural Learning.

Still images, top to bottom: Hung Liu, Olympia, 2004, paperplate monoprint, Gift from the Marmor Foundation in honor of Paula Kirkeby, selected by students in SCU Professor Andrea Pappas' Spring 2008 art history course, Women in Visual Arts, as part of the Acquisitions for Diversity Program, 2008.2.3. Rick Bartow, Concerning Intelligence, 2006, acrylic on panel, 24 x 24 in., de Saisset Museum permanent collection, Museum purchase co-sponsored by Santa Clara University's Office for Multicultural Learning, Work selected by students in Professor Kate Morris' Native American Arts: Special Topics class, spring 2006, 2007.3.6.