I am a contemporary artist who predominately uses encaustic as my medium and yesterday I got a notice informing me that the Encaustic Art Institute changed its name to the “Museum of Encaustic Art.” I was surprised by this new title. The Encaustic Art Institute, founded by Douglas Mehrens and his wife Adrienne in 2005, began in a private studio space at their home and then they moved the institute to a permanent location in the Railyard Art District, Santa Fe. The website states that they have an inventory of over 300 works of art. The mission of the “Museum of Encaustic Art” is “to grow the largest, most extensive, and best represented encaustic art collection in America. This includes at least four categories of encaustic art, such as encaustic painting, encaustic with paper and photography, encaustic with mixed media, and encaustic sculpture”. (https://www.moeart.org/about-1/)
Shouldn’t artists who work in encaustic and artists who are members of this Encaustic Institution ask questions about the change in title “Museum of Encaustic Art?
The following are questions that I raised after hearing museum in the title:
Did the Museum of Encaustic Art attain accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums?
Did the Museum of Encaustic Art obtain legal advice on starting and sustaining a museum?
Did the Museum of Encaustic Art establish a board of directors?
Did the Museum of Encaustic Art revise their standards and developed best practices in the best interests of the public and its members?
Did the Museum of Encaustic Art identify a solid vision, a clear purpose, adequate resources and request community engagement?
Did the Museum of Encaustic Art develop an art education program with curriculum standards?
Does the Museum of Encaustic Art understand what goes into caring for the institution’s art collection and are knowledgeable about the content and context of the art collection and cataloging of their collection? Where is the collection housed? Is it in a temperature and humidity controlled environment?
Does the Museum of Encaustic Art understand its role in educating the public in relation to historical and contemporary artistic practices?
Does the Museum of Encaustic Art understand contemporary art standards and practices in relation to the word “encaustic.” (for example we are not a community of Encaustic Artists doing encaustic paintings, encaustic sculptures, encaustic photographs and encaustic mixed-media, we are contemporary artists working in Encaustic.)
Personally, I would like to see the title “Museum of Art,” that specializes in Encaustic. I hope that the Museum will seek out professional artists using encaustic and invite them to speak, give workshops and talks about historical and contemporary art at the Museum. Also, the director of the “Museum of Encaustic Art” could attend the International Encaustic Conference and participate in the workshops, lectures, as well as give talks on the collection in the museum. Outreach, partnership and education are so important for a museum and should be nurtured within the local community and globally.
Note: some of these questions arose after reading “Starting a Museum” on the American Alliance of Museum’s website.