Hope, Sachs, Wells generated cultural legacy for IU Art Museum

The legacy of the IU Art Museum can be traced back to three men: Henry Hope, Paul Sachs and Herman B Wells.

While you might recognize the names of Hope, the museum’s founding director, and Wells, the chancellor and president whose vision helped make the Bloomington campus the cultural center it is today, what about Paul Sachs?

Henry Hope

Henry Radford Hope speaks to a group of students in the Art Center Gallery at Indiana University, Oct. 28, 1943. Photo courtesy of IU Archives.

Here’s the link: The Harvard professor taught a well-known class about museum work known simply as the “Museum Course,” for nearly three decades. Sachs’ teaching professionalized the field and birthed an entire generation of curators and directors. Hope studied under Sachs, and it was Sachs who shared Hope’s name with Wells when he inquired about someone to spearhead the expansion of IU’s Department of Fine Arts. Hope, in turn, founded the IU Art Museum and drove much of its early collecting, including laying a foundation for the museum’s vast holdings in German Expressionism, much of which is on display now through Dec. 23 in the exhibition “Pioneers and Exiles: German Expressionism at the Indiana University Art Museum.”

“When you look at history, the roster of students in the ‘Museum Course’ is like a ‘who’s who’ with every major museum director and curator up through the mid-20th century,” IU Art Museum senior academic officer Jennifer Wagelie said. “And really, we as a campus and a museum are still benefiting from the relationships between these three men.”

Want to know more about those three and the legacy they created here? Plan to attend the “Bringing the World to Bloomington: Henry Hope, Paul Sachs, Herman Wells and Modern Art in the University Museum” symposium from 2 to 5 p.m. Nov. 9 in the Fine Arts Auditorium, FA 015.

IU Art Museum director Adelheid “Heidi” Gealt will serve as moderator for a panel discussion. Speakers are: Carrie Schwier, assistant archivist in the IU Office of University Archives and Records Management; James Capshew, associate professor in the IU Department of History and Philosophy of Science; David Alan Brown, curator of Italian paintings at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; and Jenny McComas, the museum’s Class of 1949 Curator of Western Art After 1800.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,