NoÃlle Bernard, Senior Staff Writer

Jacob and Rachel by Raffaello Romanelli is on display at MUAM. (SAMANTHA LUDINGTON | The Miami Student)

The Miami University Art Museum (MUAM) is welcoming new changes beginning with this semester’s exhibition entitled “Creatures Great and Small” and a new face to the museum staff.

Sept. 2 marks the kick-off of the MUAM’s public opening of the fall 2010 exhibitions. Currently on display is an exhibition entitled “Creatures Great and Small,” which are collections of works that portray animals in art. The works are separated into three exhibitions titled “Animal Tales: Storybooks for Children,” “Great Creatures” and “Small Creatures.”

According to Laura Henderson, collections manager and registrar for the museum and exhibit co-curator, the exhibition’s intent is to expose the community to the diverse works found in the museum’s permanent collection that explore the influence of animals through historical and cultural perspectives.

“We hope that people will enjoy seeing things from the permanent collection that aren’t exhibited very often,” Henderson said. “We hope they will appreciate seeing the objects that represent the animal narrative. The point is to show how animals have been prominent in art through the ages as they have influenced artists, writers, children and adults throughout the ages.”

The exhibit will begin with a display of over 40 storybooks borrowed from the King Library special collections that teach moral values, good manners, spelling and language to children through animals. Among the pieces are some silk textiles from China embroidered with animals, a sculpture made by Miami tribal artist Eugene Brown, a piece made by pop artist Andy Warhol and a print made by Pablo Picasso.

“One of the objectives is to engage the university community by encouraging students to come and use the facilities to study the art,” Henderson said. “There are so many different types of media, there is something that everyone will find interesting.”

In the midst of MUAM’s new exhibition, a new face is being welcomed behind the scenes. New curator Jason Shaiman joined the museum’s team this summer and intends to start developing a firm relationship with the university to promote collaborations between numerous departments.

“There is a great potential for collaboration with diverse departments on campus,” Shaiman said. “I’m trying to get a little more of everyone involved by developing more exhibits that can be directly implemented into the curriculum so that the faculty can see the benefits of the art museum in perspectives that most people would not consider.”

According to senior Emily Douglas, a studio art major with a concentration in painting, MUAM is not a hot spot for art majors and is rarely frequented by students not affiliated with the Art Department.

“Not enough people go there as they should and this is kind of disappointing,” Douglas said. “There is only a small percentage of people and I’m even guilty of not going over there as much as I should. I wish shows were a little bit more advertised to the university. Art museums should be more universal.”

Shaiman is excited to meet Miami’s challenge of lack of community involvement. Leaving his former institution at the McKissick Museum in Columbia, S.C., Shaiman is eager to begin working in a university setting.

“We are hoping that he will bring his experience and his particular interests and skills to help us move forward in different directions than in the past,” Henderson said. “He will take us into slightly more exciting and scholarly exhibitions.”

MUAM is moving forward as new exhibitions are in the process of development for the spring semester. The themes are intended to be ones that are of interest to students, faculty and staff from all different areas of the university.

“The exhibits that are going to be curated for the spring semester are going to deal with issues of identity,” Shaiman said. “The subject will be very relevant to faculty and students in sociology, psychology and cultural anthropology, aside from the traditional students that will be interested in exhibits, such as those who are in the Art Department.”

The free public opening for the new exhibits will take place Sept. 2 from 5 to 7 p.m.

“There are some surprises,” Henderson said. “The way we have placed some things together might surprise people. We hope people enjoy what we selected because we had a great time doing it.”