From Director Arif Khan: 2023 Highlights at UNMAM

Director Arif Khan discusses Agnes Pelton’s work with UNM students. Photograph by Stefan Jennings Batista.

As we near the end of another remarkable year at the University of New Mexico Art Museum (UNMAM), we celebrate the hard work and dedication by our campus community, students, faculty and staff, to help visitors create meaningful connections with our exhibitions, programs and collection.

In 2023 we welcomed 10,074 visitors to the UNMAM, including 2,885 UNM students, setting a new record for student attendance!

The museum also welcomed 1,385 visitors to the Beaumont Newhall Study Room. We had 133 class and research visits with over 1,700 artworks viewed from our collection to provide these guests in-person experiences with original works of art that assist in the study of a cultural practice, a historical moment or the techniques and materials that artists have used.

These numbers only reveal a small part of the impact that UNMAM has on the campus community.

The museum space is a co-learning environment, with opportunities for idea exchange, new perspectives and participation. The museum provides a spark of innovative disruption, connecting faculty and students through a new learning environment.

Collective Constructs members Marina Perez (left) and Anna Rotty (center) chat with Curator Mary Statzer (right). Photograph by Stefan Jennings Batista.

These quotes from current and former students detail how the museum supports the education they receive from their academic departments.

“As a graduate student, we don’t often get the chance to exhibit in a museum context. Working with the UNMAM staff helped me understand how a museum functions and how my work might fit into a space like that. Getting to be a part of the exhibition planning process and respond with my own artwork and public scholarship was one of the highlights of my graduate career at UNM. I felt that my ideas were valued and that I could contribute in an authentic and meaningful way.”

– Anna Rotty
University of New Mexico, Master of Fine Arts Candidate

“I had the incredible pleasure of working at UNMAM as a graduate assistant while completing my master’s degree in art history. Everyone who worked at the museum became a mentor to me and provided me with endless opportunities to become a stronger scholar, especially as I navigated higher education as a first-generation student. Creating museum programs that catered to student interests provided me with invaluable skills that I now use in my position as an academic liaison librarian.”

– Paloma Barraza
Librarian of History, Iberian, and Latin American Studies at the University of Minnesota
University of New Mexico, Class of 2020


As UNMAM continues to redefine what a university art museum can be,
I ask you to join me in our year-end fundraising campaign.

Your support is critical to ensuring that UNM students have professional development opportunities, mentorship and transformative experiences with the visual arts and encouraging lifelong appreciation of arts and culture.

I invite you to continue reading about our achievements in 2023 at the UNM Art Museum.

On behalf of the UNMAM staff, we wish you a happy holidays and look forward to seeing you at the museum in the new year.Arif KhanDirector, The University of New Mexico Art Museum

UNM community members attended the UNMAM Birthday Bash on October 10, 2023, celebrating the opening date of the first exhibition at the UNM Art Museum in 1963.

In 2023 we welcomed a total of 10,074 visitors to the UNM Art Museum. We are encouraged to see that annual visitation has continued to grow since the pandemic and this year marks a return to “pre-pandemic” visitation numbers. In October, we welcomed the most visitors in a single week since re-opening, with 625 visitors, including 228 students. 

We celebrated the openings of our Spring and Fall exhibitions with a total of 459 visitors across two opening receptions. 

We welcomed a record number of UNM students, with 2,885 student visitors. We doubled the number of class visits between the Spring and Fall semesters. In the Fall alone, nearly 700 students also visited the museum outside of their class time.

We highlighted a variety of works from our collection through 5 exhibitions. We were honored to loan artwork to 9 exhibitions across the country. Our works were on view at the New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe NM; the Harwood Museum of Art, Taos, NM; Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MO; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NY.

1,385 visitors were welcomed across 133 visits to the Beaumont Newhall Study Room. Over 1700 works from our collection were viewed in this intimate setting.

120 people joined us for the national premiere of “Transformations” by the Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company.

Over 100 guests from across the campus community, joined us to celebrate our birthday.

Hindsight Insight 2.0: Portraits, Landscapes, and Abstraction from the UNM Art Museum. Photograph by Stefan Jennings Batista.

In 2023 we opened a total of five exhibitions, all featuring works from our permanent collection. This year we chose to focus on our role as a teaching museum and call attention to artists who have lived and worked in New Mexico.

We started our exhibition series off with a generous award from the Terra Foundation for American Art. With their support of $75,000, we reimagined our permanent collection series and opened Hindsight Insight 2.0 in March. Hindsight Insight 2.0 was an experimental exhibition space, designed by Curator of Prints & Photographs Mary Statzer to recontextualize works from our collection through collaborations with artists, students and faculty. The inaugural group of collaborators included UNM Art History Ph.D. candidate Eleanor Kane, artist Jess T. Dugan, and Collective Constructs, a group of visual scholars composed of UNM students working alongside a faculty member.  

The same month, Curator of Collections & Study Room Initiatives Angel Jiang opened her first exhibition in the Clinton Adams Gallery, Tradition and Transformation: Colonial New Spain and Contemporary Hispanic America. This exhibition explored New Mexico’s complex history by showing works produced during the 17th and 18th centuries alongside others produced by contemporary artists to demonstrate how they have carried on and transformed Spanish colonial visual language.  

Over the summer, we welcomed back paintings by Agnes Pelton that had been on loan to the traveling exhibition Another World: The Transcendental Painting Group, 1938–1945. To celebrate the return of these iconic works we organized Pelton & Jonson: The Transcendent 1930s. The exhibition examines the aesthetic achievements and personal connections between American painters Agnes Pelton and Raymond Jonson. The show will continue through the Spring in the Raymond Jonson Gallery and a virtual exhibition is also available online.

In May, Hindsight Insight 2.0 was visited by UNM Theater & Dance alumni Dana Tai Soon Burgess, founder of the Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company in Washington DC and the first Smithsonian Choreographer in Residence. Our exhibition approach resonated with the mission of his company and lead to a collaboration where we premiered a new piece, titled “Transformations”, inspired by the Transcendental Painting Group. The piece has since been performed at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and the Kennedy Center. Sections of “Transformations” were also performed alongside Raymond Jonson’s Time Cycle in Pelton & Jonson. These videos are featured in the Media Gallery, adjacent to the Clinton Adams Gallery.

In September, we opened the next iteration of our permanent collection series, Hindsight Insight 3.0, which focused on student involvement and the museum’s role as an extension of the classroom. The exhibition was divided into three sections, each curated in collaboration with a UNM faculty member. Thank you to collaborators Amanda Curreri, Ray Hernández-Durán, and Kevin Mulhearn for supporting the museum’s mission and allowing us to serve as an additional learning space throughout the semester. 

Cottonwood Tassels: Gustave Baumann’s Prints, Proofs, and Processes, curated by Angel Jiang, opened in October and will remain on view through March 9, 2024. A master colorist and carver, Baumann spent over half his life living and working in Santa Fe, where he helped revive and popularize the color woodcut print in the United States. This exhibition features the working materials involved in creating an editioned impression of Baumann’s Cottonwood Tassels (1943). The progressive proofs, trail prints, and blocks on display reveal his artistic process. 

Hindsight Insight 2.0: Portraits, Landscapes, and Abstraction from the UNM Art Museum

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Collaborative project by Francis Reynold’s class “Visualizing Ideas in Photography,” Moments in the Rainbow: Colors of Community, 2023. Composited collage printed on vinyl.

Expanding student engagement has continued to be among our highest priorities. In addition to contributions and collaborations with students in the development of the Hindsight Insight series, we also held student-focused events, re-launched the UNM Art Museum Student Advisory Council, and offered professional development opportunities to our student employees. 

In Hindsight Insight 2.0, UNM Art History Ph.D. candidate Eleanor Kane curated Women Depicting Women, celebrating how women artists over the past 166 years changed expectations of what portraiture can be. Collective Constructs contributed original artworks, lectures, a zine-style publication, wall text, and a series of podcasts to the exhibition. 

In April, we opened our doors after hours to host an Open House Student Night. UNM students met with staff, viewed our current exhibitions, and saw pieces from our collection in the Beaumont Newhall Study Room. We turned the lights down and the music up in the Raymond Jonson Gallery, where we hosted Dancing in the Cave (UNMAM Basement Edition) in partnership with the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology. 

In Hindsight Insight 3.0, UNM faculty used the exhibition as an extension of the classroom. Amanda Curreri’s course “ACT_ON/ACT_IN” visited the exhibition five times to activate Curreri’s works on view. Students in Ray Hernández-Durán’s course “Chicano and Latinx Art” researched and presented on works featured in the exhibition. Students in Kevin Mulhearn’s “Twentieth Century Photography” course researched the photographs to provide written contributions to the exhibition. One student even identified an error in the title of a portrait taken by British photographer Cecil Beaton in 1930. 

In September, we relaunched the Student Advisory Council, a group for UNM students who are interested in art, museums, and mentorship in the museum field. Throughout the semester, we averaged around 6 – 10 students at each meeting. While planning events and Study Room visits, they also worked together to create a reading list for Hindsight Insight 3.0’s Reading Room 

In October, we celebrated our birthday! We invited guests to have coffee with us in the Center for the Arts lobby, drop in for slow-looking, and have conversations with museum staff in the galleries. The Student Advisory Council selected works from our permanent collection to place on view in the Beaumont Newhall Study Room. Throughout the event, I enjoyed serving slices of birthday cake to UNM students and getting to know Lobo Louie!  

In November, we provided funding for a group of our Museum Assistants to attend the New Mexico Association of Museums Annual Conference. Three student employees spoke on a panel with Associate Director of Operations Devin Geraci about how they benefitted from professionalization opportunities through our student employment program. Graduate Assistant Hannah Cerne also presented on her research about UNMAM’s first-ever exhibition. 

Since the start of the Fall semester, we’ve published six articles on our journal featuring UNM student voices. Topics include archival research, reflections on current exhibitions, and other student experiences. We look forward to continue activating this space with contributions from the student community. 

Each year we benefit from the tremendous support offered by our student employees. This past semester, we welcomed our largest cohort of Museum Assistants, with 14 student employees working alongside our staff! 

Members of Collective Constructs meet in "Hindsight Insight 2.0"

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Women Depicting Women curated by UNM Art History PhD Candidate Eleanor Kane. Hindsight Insight 2.0 was made possible by generous funding from the Terra Foundation for American Art.

In 2023, the museum was honored to receive the following grants and awards. We are grateful that these national and state organizations recognize and support our collection, exhibitions, and student-focused initiatives. 

The Terra Foundation for American Art granted us $75,000 to fund the installation of Hindsight Insight 2.0 & 3.0. The foundation aims to use funds in ways that foster intercultural dialogues and encourage transformative practices that expand the narratives of American Art. With this support, Curators Mary Statzer and Angel Jiang worked closely with the UNM community to de-centering curatorial authority and institutional voice.

We were one of ten university museums selected by the Helen Frankenthaler Prints Initiative to receive a group of the artist’s prints and a one-time grant of $25,000 to develop a project or program for the study, presentation, and interpretation of these works. This gift acknowledges the museum’s distinguished history of collecting prints, photographs, and works on paper. It dramatically enriches the museum and will provide our student body and faculty with access to one of the great American artists of the 20th century.

We are also honored to be one of 18 recipients of the inaugural Creative Industries Grant, offered by the New Mexico Economic Development Department. The Creative Industries Grant supports initiatives and institutions that have the potential to make a significant impact on New Mexico’s creative industries economy. This funding will allow the museum to invest in the tools, resources, and opportunities necessary to shape the emerging museum leaders of New Mexico through UNMAM’s Museum Assistant Program.  

Through these funding opportunities, we can develop and support meaningful experiences for the UNM student community through improvements to our student employment program, providing project funds, and supporting additional professional development initiatives. 

To create a lasting impact, I am pleased to announce the launch of a crowdsourcing campaign for the UNM Art Museum’s Student Opportunities Fund. Through this fund, you can play a direct role in supporting the experiences that the museum provides to the UNM student community. 

UNMAM staff meet with Museum Assistants. Photograph by Stefan Jennings Batista.

Director Arif Khan served a five-year term, three as chair, on the board of the New Mexico Humanities Council and continues to serve as a national board member for the Association of Academic Museums & Galleries. 2023 was a year of engaging with alumni who have connections with the museum. In April, I met a group in New York to tour fellow alumna Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s exhibition, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith: Memory Map at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In November, I organized with alum Dana Tai Soon Burgess, a small group of alumni in Washington DC to attend the Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company 30th Anniversary Performance at the Kennedy Center. The UNMAM was also proud to serve as a sponsor for the New Mexico 2023 Governor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts which featured several alumni and friends of the museum among the awardees.  

Coordinator of Exhibitions Steven Hurley made it possible to open a total of five exhibitions this year. His work is usually behind the scenes, but in the Spring he sat down with members of Collective Constructs for a podcast interview. Throughout the year, he has also served as a mentor for our Museum Assistants by providing hands-on experience in exhibition preparation and demonstrations in framing and matting artwork. 

Assistant to the Director Heather Kline, continued to provide invaluable administrative and logistical support for all the responsibilities that come to the Director. Outside of the museum, Heather works on archaeological sites, fosters animals, and volunteers at a local animal shelter. 

Curator Mary Statzer was integral in securing the $75,000 grant from the Terra Foundation for American Art. With this funding, Mary has led us to record levels of faculty and student engagement through the Hindsight Insight series. This year Mary served as a portfolio reviewer for REVIEW Santa Fe and juried the exhibition Tell Me a Story: The Role of Storytelling in Photography for the Colorado Photographic Art Center in Denver, CO. 

This summer, I was pleased to oversee the promotion of Devin Geraci to Associate Director of Operations. In her 5 years at UNMAM, Devin has been devoted to developing our student employment program into a meaningful experience for UNM students. In the Fall, Devin applied to the Creative Industries Division Call for Projects, which resulted in an award of $100,000 to continue enhancing our Museum Assistant Program. Devin has also been active at professional conferences, giving presentations on student employment to members of the Academic Association of Museum & Galleries and the New Mexico Association of Museums. 

Completing her first year at UNMAM, Curator Angel Jiang opened two shows in the Clinton Adams Gallery and contributed to Hindsight Insight 3.0. She was involved in the acquisition of three works by Delilah Montoya, one of which was on display in Hindsight Insight 3.0. Angel has worked hard to keep the Beaumont Newhall Study Room busy throughout the year. You can read recaps of the Spring and Fall semesters on our journal. 

This year, we welcomed two new staff members. In March,  Joseph McKee returned to UNMAM as our first-ever Coordinator of Student Engagement and Technology. Joseph had previously worked with us as a student employee, and we are thrilled to welcome them in this new role. They have brought creative opportunities for student engagement to the museum, as well as overseeing the relaunch of the Student Advisory Council. Joseph has developed many student-focused events, including the recent launch of the Collective Constructs zine and the debut of student photocollages in Hindsight Insight 3.0. 

Just a few weeks ago, we welcomed Ethan Aronson as our new Manager of Visitor Experience. Ethan joins us from the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, where he served as the Gift Shop Manager. He’ll bring a strong background in visitor services and leadership to our front desk and Museum Assistant team. 

In the fall, we said goodbye to Visitor Services Associate Krista Gray. Krista first joined the museum as a student employee and graduated with her Master of Business Administration in the Spring. Over the summer, she was a key member of the project team for introducing a new line of artist designed merchandise. I specifically want to acknowledge the important work Krista performed in re-opening the UNMAM to the public following the 18-month closure caused by the pandemic. Thank you, Krista, and we wish you the best in your future endeavors! 

We’re sad to say goodbye to Collections Manager Stephen Lockwood, who is retiring after nearly a decade at the UNM Art Museum. Stephen’s creative energy and keen intellect have played an integral role in developing and refining UNMAM’s collections. I am grateful for the care he has placed on securing the collection for future generations. On behalf of all the UNMAM staff, I want to congratulate Stephen on his retirement and thank him for his exceptional contributions to the museum.