Utah State University’s Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art (NEHMA) received the Award for Excellence for its Collecting on the Edge exhibit from the Utah Museums Association (UMA). Each year, UMA presents awards to honor individuals or organizations who have made significant contributions to Utah museums.
“We are honored to have received this award because it demonstrates that UMA recognizes the hard work and effort that our small staff at NEHMA put into this exhibition and publication,” said Katie Lee-Koven, executive director and chief curator. “I’ve said this many times, but who hires over 80 writers to contribute to a book and exhibition featuring 172 artists? Well, we did for this book and incorporated them into the exhibition because it was the right thing to do as an academic museum – to have the scholars and authorities share their insights about these artists.”
Collecting on the Edge, comprising a two-part exhibition and a catalogue of the same name, is the result of a tremendous effort to document the unique collection of the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art. The modern and contemporary art of the American West has been largely written out of the mainstream narrative of art history or viewed through limiting perspectives.
Collecting on the Edge, featuring work by 172 artists from the NEHMA collection, told a new story, capturing the vibrant history of Western American modern art. Texts by 81 critics, art historians, artists, curators and collectors accompanied each artwork, providing unique insights into the works and their creators.
With fewer than 10 full-time staff members, NEHMA’s team worked hard to bring the two-part exhibition and catalogue together. On view from September 15, 2018 through July 31, 2019, the exhibition was featured in the New York Times Art Fall Preview. Its ambitious scope included three installations and more than 80 artworks, spanning nearly 100 years of modern art history.
Beyond the exhibition itself, the Collecting on the Edge catalogue documented the little-known story of modern art in Western America, featuring material unavailable online or through any other publication. Hikmet Sidney Loe of 15 Bytes writes, "… [Collecting on the Edge] manages to say to both Utahns and the broader population interested in art: 'look at the incredible range and diversity of art, medium, and genres found in the art of the American West.'”
NEHMA is dedicated to collecting and exhibiting modern and contemporary visual art to promote dialogue about ideas fundamental to contemporary society. The museum provides meaningful engagement with art from the 20th and 21st centuries to support the educational mission of Utah State University, in Logan, Utah. NEHMA offers complementary public programs such as lectures, panels, tours, concerts and symposia to serve the university and regional community. Admission is free and open to the public. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays until 7 p.m. and by appointment. Visit http://artmuseum.usu.edu/ for more information.
UMA members nominated themselves and their peers for four awards this year: the Phil Notarianni Distinguished Service Award for exceptional dedication to Utah Museums; the Bessie Jones Volunteer Award for dedicated volunteer service in Utah museums; the Award for Excellence given to an individual, team or organization that has shown superior achievement; and the Rising Professional Award given to a rising, current museum professional whose work to date demonstrates a commitment to excellence.
The Utah Museums Association is committed to building the capacity of all Utah museums to serve their communities. Founded in 1972, UMA is a 501(c)(3) professional membership organization for museum staff and volunteers. The association serves museums of all sizes and disciplines throughout Utah. The mission of the Utah Museums Association is to provide professional development and networking opportunities to build the capacity of Utah’s museums, connect museums to professional resources and best practices and serve as an advocate for Utah museums. For more information, visit www.utahmuseums.org.