A Message from the Executive Director
Whatever worthiness a museum may ultimately have derives from what it does, not from what it is.
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Hofstra University Museum (HUM), whose doors opened to the public in 1963. Starting with a core collection of fine art donated by trustees, alumni and friends during the decades prior to its opening, the Museum, in its early years, quickly established itself as an important cultural resource for the University. Today, the Hofstra University Museum is the only American Alliance of Museums (AAM) accredited university museum in the region, a significant mark of excellence for all of its endeavors, annually reaching out to more than 22,500 visitors that include students and faculty at Hofstra, as well as residents of our metropolitan area.
The role of the HUM has evolved through its years, with the Museum now serving as an impetus for thought and discussion through its choice of exhibition content and its collections. It is a place where visitors, from the youngest to the most senior, can challenge their assumptions and transform their thinking as they engage with authentic cultural artifacts and original works of art from the world’s diverse cultures and through centuries of time. Students, faculty and scholars develop independent research focused on aspects of the collections that date from 5,000 BCE to the contemporary; and the exchange of ideas encourages growth and enhancement of 21st century skills and thinking.
At a 2007 meeting of the International Council of Museums in Vienna, the art historian Carol Scott presented a paper on Advocating the Value of Museums, suggesting that “[Museums]…provide inspiration, through access to the communal archive of ideas… ‘[Museums] are revealed to be a rich and layered experience offering different ways to interact and intersect with objects and the stories that lie buried within them.’ ” In the daily life of the Hofstra University Museum, Scott’s point of view is a guiding principle as the objects that define the collections are utilized to teach children about the rich cultural heritage of our world, the stories embedded in each object, and the strong connective links that art has to core classroom curricula. Adults explore the resources of the collections while engaging in peer-to-peer conversations that encourage the sharing of their own life experiences with varied world cultures. Hofstra University students and faculty in a wide range of disciplines (e.g., Communications, Dance, Education, History, Journalism, Psychology, etc.), utilize HUM exhibitions and collection works as a vehicle for meaningful conversation and scholarly discourse that is directly related to course content.
As the Hofstra University Museum looks ahead to the next fifty years, its newly minted mission statement (December 2012), “Integral to the mission of Hofstra University, the Hofstra University Museum advances knowledge and understanding through experiences with authentic works of art from the world’s diverse cultures…” will serve to guide the growth of current offerings and the creation of new community outreach initiatives designed to further enhance the impact of the HUM as a place that expands upon each individual’s life story as it “…derives its value from what it does, not from what it is.”
Beth E. Levinthal, Executive Director