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Summer 2000

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Tang museum wins friends and supporters

     There were friends of the Tang even before there was a Tang. Way back in the days of the Skidmore Journey campaign, when a proposed museum was only a bullet on the campaign wish list, the dream museum was drawing ardent supporters like Janet Lucas Whitman ’59. Now the FOT national chair, Whitman chaired the early committee that helped guide the dream’s realization as the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery.

     Starting last fall, being an official Friend of the Tang started to be fun rather than just a leap of faith. That was when Dayton Director of the Tang Charles Stainback led a bus tour to New York City’s Museum of Modern Art and several studios and galleries in Greenwich Village, SoHo, and Chelsea—whetting appetites for “the types of things the Tang would be doing.” That jaunt alone won the Tang a busload of support. And then there was the December gala at the governor’s mansion in Albany, which drew more than 50 regional business leaders for a presentation including remarks by State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno ’52. “People came up afterward and said, ‘Please let me know how I can help you out,’” marvels Stainback. In fact, response to the Tang’s campaign for special supporters (FOT memberships range from $15 for students to $10,000 and beyond; perks include special-event invitations, museum-shop discounts, and more) has been so strong that in late May Stainback exulted, “We’re already well over our original $100,000 goal and we’ve still got four months to go.”

     The more the merrier, says Saratoga Springs sculptor Beverley Estabrook Mastrianni ’76, who, along with Jane Greenberg ’81 and husband Paul Cameron, co-chairs the local FOT effort. Mastrianni says donations will help the Tang “do things above and beyond what the College’s budget can do.” Naturally, excellence costs, especially in a museum whose impact is expected to be national and even international. Stainback says a major traveling exhibit—when you add up lending fees, insurance, packing, transporting, and installation—might cost $50,000 to bring to Skidmore. Even in-house exhibits, like the interdisciplinary shows now being planned by Skidmore faculty, might run $20,000 to $40,000. As he swings through the art world from Manhattan to Berlin to San Francisco, networking with artists, museums, and galleries, Stainback hears about exciting new exhibits in the making, “and I have to be able to say, ‘I’ll take it.’”

     The Tang’s programs are expected to engage a wide audience both in Saratoga and beyond, yet even among university and college museums, “the Tang will be exceptional because it will attempt to involve all the students and faculty, not just the art faculty,” says sculptor Mastrianni. “This is a teaching museum and gallery for all.”

     “That’s why people have responded so well,” believes Whitman. “They’re contributing to a dream, really.”—BAM


© 2000 Skidmore College