Up Close with the Fogg’s Collections

September 17, 2014
When the Harvard Art Museums open in November, more than 50,000 objects from the Fogg Museum’s collections will be available for viewing (by appointment) in the Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Family Art Study Center.

Imagine walking through the Harvard Art Museums’ galleries and discovering David Smith’s Detroit Queen (1957). You’re instantly intrigued by the sculpture’s large bronze form and want to know more about his other works that aren’t on view. You quickly search our collections on your mobile device and find his sculpture Relief with Bones (1956), a paint-box lid covered with canvas, paint, and ham and chicken bones, as well as his Untitled drawing from 1958, made with metallic gold and copper. You go to our Art Study Center’s reception desk (or use an online form) to make an appointment to come back on another day for a private viewing of Smith’s works in a room designated for studying objects from the Fogg Museum’s collections.

When we open our new facility in November, you’ll be able to do just that, thanks in large part to David J. Haemisegger and Nancy A. Nasher. They have recently given the museums a significant gift to name the Fogg Museum’s space within the Art Study Center. The Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Family Art Study Center is one of five spaces that will make up an expansive new Art Study Center: individual centers for each of our three museums (Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Arthur M. Sackler) and two seminar rooms for classes to work with the collections. Housed beneath our new glass rooftop, the Art Study Center receives controlled natural light—ideal for the kind of close looking that happens here.

In the Art Study Center, fragments of the past become real and tangible—they become the center of discussions, arguments, and meditations. The space is a vital extension of our galleries, providing unparalleled access to works from the collections; in the Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Family Art Study Center alone, more than 50,000 objects from the Fogg Museum will be available for viewing upon request.

The Art Study Center will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology, making it an exciting place to learn and explore our collections. Museums staff will work closely with visitors to ensure that every guest has the right experience, whether it’s a student studying for a general exam or a casual visitor stopping by during designated hours.

Nasher and Haemisegger understand the unique mission of university art museums and are generous supporters of our peer institutions, such as the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University and the Princeton University Art Museum. The learning that will occur in the Art Study Center, according to Nasher and Haemisegger, “is up close and personal in a way that enriches the way one can interact with art beyond a traditional gallery visit. We are pleased to support this remarkable experience at the Harvard Art Museums for all visitors, but especially for students.” Tom Lentz, director of the Harvard Art Museums, echoes this point, saying, “The Art Study Center is an essential part of what makes the new Harvard Art Museums a visual arts laboratory for the 21st century. We are thrilled and extremely fortunate to have supporters like Nancy and David, who value the power of close looking as a dynamic mode of teaching, learning, and enjoying great art.”