We define our audience as a series of concentric circles. The tightest ring consists of the students and faculty of the Art and Art History Program. Closely fitted to that ring are the students, faculty, and staff on the rest of Berea College’s campus. While the students and faculty of Art and Art History are our natural allies, we strive to reach across campus to engage more broadly with the art we display in our galleries and care for in our collection. The next ring brings the local Berea community into the conversation. Through collaborations with the Berea Arts Council, the Artisan Center, and area schools, we seek to involve the town of Berea in our programming. This ring overlaps with another key constituent: alumni. Beyond those who have had direct interactions with the college as whole and the town, the next ring of our audience includes those who come to Berea as tourists, whether drawn by the city’s reputation as the arts and crafts capital of Kentucky or the natural beauty of the region. The two outermost circles include visitors and potential visitors who learn about the galleries as a result of the reputation of our collection and our active exhibition program. These circles include a ring of regional visitors and those who come from across the country.
Art Exhibitions—A large portion of the exhibitions in our galleries showcase the art of contemporary artists working in a wide range of media. In addition to highlighting work on Kentucky-based artists, we also display work by artists from across the country as well as international artists. Furthermore, we have exhibitions curated from our permanent collection as well as occasional exhibits from outside collections.
Interpreting and Preserving—The Berea College Art Collection is made accessible to the campus, surrounding communities, and visiting scholars with the goal of providing rich opportunities to experience the visual arts. We accomplish this goal by caring for the artwork entrusted to us by generations of donors, making the artwork available for research and study through class visits and individual appointments, and installing two permanent collection galleries that highlight the richness and diversity of our collection.
Berea College Art Collection—The Berea College Art Collection was established in 1935 as a teaching collection with the purpose of providing Berea College students with the best examples of art and artifacts from around the world. Currently, the art collection is made up of more than 14,000 works of art and artifacts of cultural significance and is known for its high quality.
The core of the collection includes paintings, prints, and photographs by European and American masters; contemporary ceramics; and Asian arts. Among the most significant works in the collection are Renaissance paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection, Old Master prints including works by Rembrandt and Albrecht Dürer, Japanese woodblock prints, over 3000 Doris Ulmann photographs, and paintings by Gilbert Stuart, Arthur Wesley Dow, Thomas Moran, and Henry Ossawa Tanner. The early works on paper were supplemented by a recent gift of contemporary American prints by Jasper Johns, Jacob Lawrence, and Sam Gilliam among others.