Over the past three years, the Johnson Museum has researched and developed seven new courses with faculty colleagues from six different departments in Cornell University’s College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Engineering, Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies, and Southeast Asia Program. The consistent research focus and high level of rigor brought to the development of these new courses has firmly positioned the Johnson as an important contributor to the core academic mission of the university. Course surveys have shown that these courses provided transformative experiences to undergraduate and graduate students; brought students into contact with peers studying in different schools and departments; helped provide a more informed approach to career choices; and explored the Museum’s potential to support emerging research fields, confirming the unique role the Museum can play in helping to envision and implement a dynamic university curriculum. 

This past spring we presented three extremely diverse semester-long courses. “Zen Buddhism: Aesthetic Cultivation of Self” was cotaught by Jane-Marie Law, associate professor in Japanese Religions and Ritual Studies and the director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Asian Studies, and Ellen Avril, our chief curator and curator of Asian art. “Embodying the Object: Writing with the Collection” was cotaught by Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, associate professor in the English department, and Cathy Rosa Klimaszewski, our associate director and Harriett Ames Charitable Trust Curator of Education. “Watermark Identification in Rembrandt’s Etchings” was cotaught by C. Richard Johnson, Hedrick Senior Professor of Engineering, and Andy Weislogel, the Johnson’s Seymour R. Askin, Jr. ’47 Curator, Earlier European and American Art.

Leah Sweet Johnson Museum Cornell

This fall we are pleased to welcome Leah Sweet to the Museum staff as the new Mellon Curatorial Coordinator for Academic Programs. Leah earned a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and has graduate degrees in art history from both Williams College and New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. Leah’s enthusiasm for facilitating firsthand experiences with art began as a gallery lecturer at the Museum of Modern Art and expanded while teaching art history at Parsons School of Design, The New School. At Parsons, Leah taught in the art history department and partnered with art and design faculty to create and teach a wide range of interdisciplinary art history and visual culture seminars. As course coordinator, she supervised the development and implementation of two required first-year courses that engage with art and design through experimental and academic writing, research skills, and creative practice.

Finally, we are very thrilled to announce that the success of these wide-reaching curricular initiatives has inspired the vice chair of the Museum Advisory Council, Susan Lynch, to endow the position of curatorial coordinator for academic programs. Susan’s extremely generous gift will ensure that the Museum continues to share and use our extraordinary collection through teaching, research, and object-based learning, enabling us to continue on beyond the goals of the four-year “Connecting Research with Practice” initiative funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.