July 14, 2012
Flowers to the Living
For the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the University Gallery, the retired former director, Ruth Lawrence, was asked to compile a history of the University of Minnesota’s Gallery of Art. In 24 typewritten pages, Ruth outlined the origin — and resulting ebbs and flows — of the gallery as she had experienced it. At the end of “Mrs. Lawrence’s 25 Yr. Report,” in a final paragraph titled, “Flowers to the Living,” Ruth expressed her gratitude to those who had contributed to the growth and development of the gallery over the years:
From the beginning, a loyalty and devotion which is touching to observe had been brought to the Gallery by almost everyone who came to work for it or who has been associated in any way with it. Perhaps its difficulties, struggles and working against great odds has engendered a feeling of fondness and of protectiveness. These people have offered to go the extra mile not required. They develop a faithfulness above personal plans and interest and energetically pour themselves fully into the work to be done.
Ruth goes on to name “gallery mechanic,” Carl Hawkinson, and curator/registrar Betty Maurstad to recognize their many years of service to the gallery.
Ruth ends her report with the following statements, “Too numerous to mention were those who were friendly with helpful counseling and suggestions. One cannot begin to list the names of our benefactors. To them we say, humbly and gratefully–Thank you!”
Having now read through hundreds of letters written by Ruth, I have come to appreciate that when things need to be said, Ruth often said it best. The sentiments Ruth used to describe past museum employees can also be used to describe the museum’s current staff of registrars, curators, crew members, and others, who offered to go the extra mile to make the exhibit, The WAM Files: The Art of the Archives, possible.
To them, this humble and grateful graduate student says–Thank you!
Rebecca Wilson is a graduate student in the Master of Liberal Studies program at the University of Minnesota, completing a minor in Museum Studies. She also serves as a Visitor Services Assistant at the Weisman Art Museum.