Many people don’t know this, but GW has one of the largest, oldest, and most respected museum training programs in the country, offering a variety of masters’ degrees in preparation for museum careers. This experiential springboard has populated museums around the U.S. and around the world. So it’s no surprise that nearly 100 GW alumni, parents, and friends flocked to Miami Beach on December 3 to appreciate diverse, unique exhibits during Art Basel.
This is the sixth time GW has hosted an event in conjunction with Art Basel, GW Culture Buffs: Art Basel in Miami Beach, which is co-sponsored by the South Florida Alumni Network and Columbian College Alumni Relations. The GW South Florida Alumni Network Committee Chair, Jason Blank, CCAS ’02, welcomed the audience and noted that the GW community in South Florida consists of approximately 4,300 alumni 1,800 parents, and 290 current students.
President Steven Knapp provided an update on the fall semester, including Freshman Day of Service, student activism following the election, and prominent speakers and events on campus that create “only-at-GW” experiences for students and faculty alike. He also reflected on the last decade of his presidency, noting achievements and updates on campus. “Our main contribution to the world is our alumni,” Knapp said. “We’ve built a strong, vibrant alumni community now 275,000 strong worldwide – and it’s through them we make history.”
One highlight of the event was a guide to Art Basel led by John Wetenhall, director of the George Washington University Museum and Textile Museum. His credentials also include former president of the Carnegie Museums in Pittsburgh and interim director of the Perez Art Museum Miami. Wetenhall quipped, “I have three graduate degrees in the history of art, I’ve taught modern art, and I’ve been a museum director for 20 years, but I do not know half of the artists in this exposition – and if I don’t know them, there’s no reason you need to know them either! No one should feel intimidated by the art, artists, or buyers you’re going to see.”
His tips to enjoying the exhibit included creating a structure: “Empower yourself as a judge – your credentials are your own willingness to show up.” This event allows alumni, parents, and guests in the GW South Florida community to come together to connect with each other, as well as to experience this renowned art fair. Following Wetenhall’s remarks, alumnus Marc Albert, CCAS ’70 and Law School ’73, closed the program toasting President Knapp and his tenure at GW. —Lauren Walinsky
Check out photos from the event on GW Alumni’s Flickr page.