The Study Gallery – A Window onto Teaching and Research

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Portions of this essay were originally published in the Ackland’s Member E-Newsletter of 13 August 2015.

MelancoliaThe start of a new academic year is always invigorating, and my thoughts are on the return of our Study Gallery on the second floor, one of the Ackland’s extraordinary programs. Over the course of the academic year, the Study Gallery will contain 36 short-term small exhibitions that accompany curricular teaching happening all across this wonderful University (six new installations reinstalled every six weeks).

There are always surprises in store here—from little-seen works to unconventional juxtapositions. You can see a socio-critical image by contemporary photographer Danny Lyon next to Albrecht Dürer’s masterpiece print Melancolia (part of the installation supporting a course on “Abnormal Psychology”). Also on view in the Gallery are nineteenth-century photographs of Turkish subjects (amongst the works for a course on “Gender in the Middle East”), a captivating ancient Egyptian cat amulet—surely, at only 1 centimeter tall, one of the smallest works in the Ackland collection (one of about two dozen works on display for “Egyptian Archaeology”)—and many other interesting pieces of art.

Cat AmuletI would especially like to highlight the diverse and challenging group of works installed to accompany discussion groups considering the “Summer Reading” book assigned by the University for all incoming new undergraduate students. In Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson provides a harrowing account of his experiences seeking justice for the poor, the falsely convicted, and the marginalized. Danny Lyon, Andy Warhol, and other contemporary artists make appearances in this installation.

You can find a full list of the semester’s courses benefitting from a Study Gallery installation here, with the dates during which the installations will be on view and a link to an illustrated checklist of all the exhibited works in the first set.

I cannot say enough good things about our Study Gallery—except to suggest that we should perhaps choose a less dour name for it! Do not let yourself be deterred from exploring these fascinating windows on the University’s teaching and research. During the semester, the Study Gallery is open for the same hours as the rest of the Museum, including weekends. Please visit and enjoy part of the tremendous programming that your Museum memberships helps to make possible.


Peter Nisbet

Ackland Art Museum Chief Curator and Interim Director

Albrecht Dürer, German, 1471-1528: Melancolia I, 1514; engraving. Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Gift of W. P. Jacocks, 58.2.4.
Unidentified artist, Egyptian: Cat Amulet, n.d.; turquoise faience. Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 62.19.15.