PLATTSBURGH - The State University of New York at Plattsburgh now owns 162 original Andy Warhol photographs - and you have until March 29 to check them out.
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts announced in October 2007 they would be donating 28,543 original photographs by the world-renowned artist, "valued in excess of $28 million," as a part of the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program and in honor of the foundation's 20th anniversary.
SUNY Plattsburgh was one of 183 college and university art museums selected across the country to receive a part of this gift.
"We were preselected to be invited to the program," explained art gallery director Cecilia Esposito. "We had questionnaires and they asked us lots of questions on how we would use the collection, our atmosphere, how we manage collections."
After being selected, the Plattsburgh State Art Museum received the original Polaroid photographs in July, where the photos had to have legal documents to transfer ownership to the museum.
"We own the objects," explained Esposito. "They'll become part of our collection."
Due to the highly-fragile state of the Polaroids, Esposito explained they can only be on display for a limited time, then must be stored in complete darkness.
"We already know if there is extended exposure to light, that they will fade and the colors will alter," she said. "So, we have to be very careful with how much time they're on view, and how we store them."
Although having been on display since Jan. 23, the grand opening of the event wasn't held until Jan. 30.
"I'm getting a lot of feedback from people interested in the exhibition," Esposito said. "Positive and anxious to come and see it."
Two art students at SUNY Plattsburgh have already taken a look at the display and were surprised by some of the differences they see in Warhol's Polaroids compared to his other mediums for which he's known.
"Most of his work that I've seen is the big, colorful, bold," said Kelly Matthews. "This is different."
"For me, this is what's different," said Cathy Michaels, referring to Warhol's scenic photography on display. "This type of photography that he does; the repetition that he has in his work."
Esposito added she felt one reason why SUNY Plattsburgh's art museum was selected to receive the foundation's gift is due to the area we're in and the museum in general.
"I think it's a real indication and faith in our collections and in our institution and our ability to care for them," she said. "I think gifting them to an institution in a fairly rural upstate area, I think they may have taken that into consideration. Because the opportunity to see Andy Warhol material is pretty slim."
According to Joel Wachs, the Warhol foundation's president, that was indeed their goal.
In a press release, Wachs stated, "The aim of the Photographic Legacy Program is to provide great access to Warhol's art work and process, and to enable a wide range of people from communities across the country to view and study this important yet relatively unknown body of Warhol's work."
In the future, a portion of the works now owned by the Plattsburgh State Art Museum, will be put on display, at the request of the foundation, at least every ten years.
The display can be viewed at SUNY Plattsburgh's Burke Gallery, located in the Myers Fine Arts building. The museum is open seven days a week from 12-4 p.m. All exhibits located at SUNY Plattsburgh are free and open to the public. For more information call 564-2474 or visit www.plattsburgh.edu/museum.