August 2016

Summer brought us a steady flow of visitors: prospective students and families exploring campus, teens participating in sports programs and pre-college classes, tours arranged for Cornell’s Adult University, and tourists seeking to mix cultural experiences with outdoor activities. My own favorite summer program—and one that served nearly all of these audiences—was “Workshop Wednesdays,” organized by Kari O’Mara, our Mellon Coordinator of Student Engagement. All summer long, Kari filled to capacity the Museum’s Cox Studio with an intergenerational group eager to try their hand at creating a different form of artwork each week. It was a joy to see such enthusiastic and high-spirited participants both making and looking at art in equal measures. These very popular workshop sessions continue this fall as “Studio Thursdays.” 

Visitors to our website can now search for information about every single object—more than 35,000 of them—in our permanent collection at This recently launched resource is a publicly accessible collections database, a key milestone for the Johnson. It allows us to share our collection more fully to faculty, students, and the public, and we add more images and information daily. We thank Moira and Mark Hintsa for their enthusiastic support of this vital project.

We’re equally proud of the many engaging programs that connect with our new exhibitions. Curator Nancy Green’s ambitious exhibition JapanAmerica brings stunning works from across the country to be shown alongside art from our own collection, which is further highlighted by three intimate exhibitions exploring themes drawn from centuries of East-West relations. Nancy and Daniel McKee from the Department of Asian Studies will teach a related course this fall, a wonderful coda to Ellen Avril and Professor Jane-Marie Law’s extremely successful spring course “Zen Buddhism: The Aesthetic Cultivation of the Self.” That course was awarded an Internationalizing Cornell curriculum grant, allowing students to travel to Japan for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn Zen meditation and work practice while staying in Chiba and Kamakura, touring important Buddhist temples and gardens and gaining special access to their treasures of sculpture, paintings, and calligraphy. 

Our academic programs are off to a great start this semester with exciting news: the Mellon Curatorial Coordinator for Academic Programs position has been permanently endowed by Susan Lynch, vice chair of our Museum Advisory Council. This important position is responsible for overseeing the Museum’s busy schedule of class visits—about 350 each academic year. We are so grateful to Susan for her generosity in making this grant-funded position permanent. This semester we welcome Leah Sweet as our new academic coordinator.

We have so much planned for the fall. Please come visit us soon—and often! 

Stephanie Wiles Johnson Museum Cornell

Stephanie Wiles
The Richard J. Schwartz Director