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Ackland Art Museum's study gallery caters to many

South Korean artist Nam June Paik’s piece “Eagle Eye” (pictured) is part of a show displayed in the Ackland for Geography 650.

South Korean artist Nam June Paik’s piece “Eagle Eye” (pictured) is part of a show displayed in the Ackland for Geography 650.

The gallery’s layout includes six different bays, all of which have been updated with a new exhibition this week to mark the start of a new semester. Each is designed to house a unique collection of artwork handpicked jointly by class professors and museum curators. The exhibits change every six weeks for different course collaborations.

Carolyn Allmendinger, director of academic programs at the Ackland, is directly involved in this process.

“It’s my job to find connections between art in the Ackland and academics at the University,” she said.

Allmendinger said she works primarily with undergraduate and graduate students, including those from Duke University, Meredith College, UNC-Greensboro and local community colleges. Her main duties include coordinating with professors to determine which pieces to install in each exhibit, as well as teaching the classes that visit the gallery.

“The thing that I like about the teaching that I do here is the broad range of teaching that I can do,” Allmendinger said.

Tatiana String, a professor in UNC’s Art Department, has used the study gallery for her art history courses in the past and said she finds it to be a very useful resource.

“For art historians in North Carolina to be able to see works firsthand and not just on slides is fantastic,” String said. “They get to see things really up close, they get to see things for an extended period, and I think that really looking hard is an important skill for anybody, not just art majors.”

Currently on display in the gallery are exhibitions for courses such as Art History 89: “Islamic Art and Science,” and Geography 650: “Technology and Democracy.”

Mikala Whitaker, a sophomore journalism and global studies major, visited the study gallery not for an art class but for a religious studies course.

“I think the gallery really enriched what we had been learning in class even more,” Whitaker said. “It made me appreciate the importance of art more.”

Similarly, sophomore sociology major Courtney Sams visited the gallery in her comparative literature course.

“It made the class a lot more relatable,” Sams said. “It was a really positive experience.”

Allmendinger said the variety of class discussions she leads at the study gallery allows her to learn more about a particular piece of artwork in return.

“I can work with a single work of art over and over and over, but I learn something different every time I have a conversation with a different group because everybody brings a different perspective, and I really enjoy that,” she said.

Although many university museums have spaces similar to Ackland’s Study Gallery, Allmendinger said none quite compare to it.

“Most university museums don’t devote this much space to this kind of exhibition that’s designed specifically with classes in mind,” she said.

“I think that creates a really interesting experience.”

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