Renamed Museum of Contemporary Art reopens Feb. 3 with Goldblatt photos

The University Museum of Contemporary Art. Remember that. The University Gallery at the Fine Arts Center is changing its name to the University Museum of Contemporary Art.

The museum, which underwent renovations and was closed to the public last fall, will re-open on Feb. 3 with Intersections Intersected: The Photography of David Goldblatt, a retrospective exhibition of work by the South African photographer.

The new name, intended to better expresses the institution''s mission and focus, grows out of an initiative to bring greater awareness to its role as a teaching museum, as steward of the campus art collection, and as the only academic-affiliated museum in western Massachusetts to specialize in contemporary international art.

The naming and graphic identity project was conducted with several focus groups and in partnership with professor Joseph Krupczynski''s design studio.

"Our new name creates a clear picture of who we are and clarifies our museum''s distinct identity," said Loretta Yarlow, director of the museum.

The facility, located on the lower level of the Fine Arts Center, underwent a renovation to its heating/ventilation/air-conditioning system, a redesign and expansion of its main entrance, as well as an upgrade to its Art Collection Storage/Study Room. While closed to the public during this renovation this fall, the University Museum of Contemporary Art maintained a high public profile through the organization of landmark public art projects and exhibitions across campus and into the surrounding communities.

The new name and upgraded facilities will reflect an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and research and will enable the Museum to open its collection, cutting-edge exhibitions, and educational programs to more students, scholars, and visitors.

The new name also aligns the museum with peer museums at other universities with whom collaborations and shared touring national and international exhibitions take place, and clearly identifies its affiliation and membership in local, regional, national and international museum associations.

Museum hours, beginning Feb. 3, are Tuesday to Friday, 11 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., weekends, 2-5 p.m.

The museum is closed Mondays, holidays and during spring break, March 12-21.

"Intersections Intersected: The Photography of David Goldblatt"

The exhibit runs Feb. 3 to May 1, with an opening reception on Thursday, Feb. 3, 5-8 p.m., including a panel discussion with the artist, 6-7 p.m.

As both citizen and photographer, Goldblatt was witness to apartheid''s infiltration into every aspect of South African life. The exhibition of over 100 photographs, taken by Goldblatt during the past 50 years, focuses on South Africa''s human landscape in the apartheid and post-apartheid eras. The exhibition, titled "Intersections Intersected," looks at the relationship between the past and present by pairing Goldblatt''s earlier black-and-white images with his more recent color work. Sometimes the pairings show the same place 20 years apart. In other cases Goldblatt couples images of comparable scenes at different moments. Through those pairings Goldblatt introduces a strong element of time in his images, creating unpredictable results.

Captions written by the artist accompany each photograph in order to convey context and critical information about the image. His photographs do not look at the large events or the public face of violence; rather they focus on the world of ordinary people and the minutiae of everyday life, illuminating the depth of injustice and the character of the people who imposed it and who struggled against it.

Recipient of the 2009 Henri Cartier-Bresson Award and the Hasselblad Photography Award, Goldblatt began photographing professionally in the early 1960s, focusing on the imagery and effects of apartheid. The son of Jewish-Lithuanian parents who fled to South Africa to escape religious persecution, Goldblatt was forced into a peculiar situation, being both a white man in a racially segregated society and a member of a religious minority with a sense of otherness.

Goldblatt continues to explore the consciousness of South African society today, looking at the condition of race relations after the end of apartheid while also tackling other contemporary issues, such as the influence of the AIDS epidemic. As an almost forensic witness to history, Intersections Intersected commingles past, present, and future in a narrative that persistently turns away from spectacle in its constant search for the human.

The exhibition at the University Museum of Contemporary Art will be the context for which a program of panel discussions, public talks, film screenings, readings, and an outreach school program is being organized.

Photo: Mother and child in their home after the destruction of its shelter by officials of the Western Cape Development Board. Crossroads, Cape Town. 11 October 1984. From "Intersections Intersected: the Photography of David Goldblatt"