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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Catalogue of the Week

One of the side effects of the day job is that I have to spend time--sometimes a lot of time--in unusual places. Once in a while that's a perk; more often, though, it's a pain.

A few years ago I spent the better portion of nine months camped out in Lincoln, NE. While I was there, I got to know the collection of the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Nebraska. The Sheldon played no small part in the affection I came to feel for a small city that I never guessed I could like so much.

Sculpture from the Sheldon Memorial Art GalleryHoused in a Philip Johnson-designed building, the Sheldon has what is among the best public university collections in America. But the collection isn't bounded by Johnson's walls. Over the years, the museum has annexed the whole campus as outdoor sculptures by Mark di Suvero, Richard Serra, Michael Heizer, Claes Oldenburg, and others have been commissioned and installed around the university grounds.

The University of Nebraska Press has recently published a catalogue of the Sheldon's sculpture collection, and it's been a pleasure to browse through it recently--revisiting old friends from the collection and remembering cool summer evenings spent strolling around the campus.

Edited by the Sheldon's curator of education Karen Janovy, Sculpture from the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery tells how the Sheldon developed its sculpture collection and illustrates many highlights with color photos and short descriptive essays. Presenting work both intimate and monumental, this catalogue shows what a small institution with a single major benefactor and a dedicated curatorial staff can do over time.

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