Astrid Runggaldier and Catherine Popovici collaborate with Blanton on newly revamped Ancient Americas gallery

Back in 2017, The Blanton Museum of Art unveiled its new, five-year plan for reimagining its permanent collection to offer more personalized experiences. Among the changes was the establishment of Ancient Americas gallery, a collaboration between Assistant Director of the Mesoamerica Center Astrid Runggaldier, Blanton curator Rosario Granados, and former Blanton and now current Museum of Modern Art curator Beverly Adams in the creation of an entirely new space given over to the display of a selection of objects from the UT Austin Art and Art History Collection (AAHC).

Following the 2017 plan to regularly rotate the AAHC items in the Ancient Americas gallery, Spring 2019 ushered in a new selection of objects—this time focusing on ceramics from the Andean cultures of South America. Past collaborators Runggaldier, Adams and Granados brought in 2018-19 Mellon Fellow and UT Austin Art History doctoral candidate Catherine Popovici to lead, along with her work on other museum projects, the curatorial planning for Modeled in Clay: Worldviews in Ancient South American Ceramics.

two images one of preparator installing Andean ceramics in exhibit and the right image of newly installed work in gallery exhibit

“Working with Catherine on the rotation this year was a wonderfully engaging process,” said Runggaldier. “Especially because it created a dynamic environment in the Art and Art History Collection lab space [housed in the ART building], where interns from Art History and other student researchers from across campus working with the collection were able to participate in the process of selecting and evaluating objects for the new iteration of the gallery.”

In the next academic year, Runggaldier already has plans to put the gallery into extensive use for her Art History course Art and Archaeology of Ancient Peru. For now, the newly installed gallery will reopen just in time for the Blanton’s Curatorial Celebration on May 15, 2019, when research fellows and interns are feted by their colleagues and mentors at the end of their yearly appointments, and be on view throughout the summer months and the next two years.

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