Director's Note

With the transformation of the east end of Washington University’s Danforth Campus now underway, visitors to the Kemper Art Museum will witness exciting changes in our built environment. Although construction for the Museum expansion does not begin in earnest until May 2018—when we will temporarily close for a year—we are already anticipating and planning for the opportunities the expanded space will afford us. Thanks to the very generous support of the Kemper family, the Museum will be enriched by a dramatic new facade, a spacious new entrance and lobby, and the James M. Kemper Gallery. The new gallery space will accommodate larger holdings of the museum’s collection, and the new Florence Steinberg Weil Sculpture Garden will visually link the Museum to the Sam Fox School’s Anabeth and John Weil Hall. We look forward to being able to expand our offerings of intellectually stimulating programs that deepen understanding of a broad range of current and historical artistic positions. 

This time of transition creates the perfect opportunity to focus on researching the collection and furthering plans for fulfilling our mission as a teaching museum as we move into the future. The exhibition Renaissance and Baroque Prints: Investigating the Collection, on view in Ebsworth Gallery this fall, is conceived as a sort of laboratory. The most comprehensive display to date of the Museum’s prints from the 15th through 18th centuries, it will allow specialists to examine both well-known and under-studied works. We are opening the research sessions to the public, and I hope you will join us to share in the act of inquiry. 

We are also pleased to bring to campus a video installation by French-Algerian artist Kader Attia, whose work focuses on colonial hegemony and its aftermath. Reason’s Oxymorons (2015) comprises video montages of interviews with a variety of psychiatrists, healers, and philosophers who discuss the treatment of trauma and concepts of psychological health across a range of cultural and geographic circumstances. Installed in Garen Gallery in a maze of office-like cubicles, the videos explore distinct notions of repair held by Western and non-Western cultures and offer a compelling reflection on the human condition.

I invite you to immerse yourself in the aesthetic experimentation both exhibitions offer as well as to explore the Teaching Gallery exhibition, Reframing Feminism: Visualizing Women, Gender & Sexuality, curated by Trevor Joy Sangrey, lecturer in the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies in Arts & Sciences. 

We are deeply grateful for the support of all our members during this exciting and pivotal time. Your commitment enables us to continue the work of mounting far-reaching exhibitions, developing the collection, and creating engaging programs. I look forward to welcoming you in the Museum this season—and beyond. 

With best wishes,


Sabine Eckmann, PhD
William T. Kemper Director and Chief Curator