Racine Art Museum: Celebrating an art legacy

Contact: Jessica Zalewski
Laura Gillespie

The Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, Racine Art Museum’s forebear, was founded on November 16, 1941. Throughout 2017, RAM will celebrate Wustum’s continuing legacy of bringing art to our community and the world for 75 years. Open January 22 – April 30, 2017, Wustum Generations features works by artists who have been essential to the development of Wustum and RAM.

For decades, Wustum has both embrace, and been embraced by, members of the Racine community. The museum offers exhibitions, classes, and workshops; hosts special events, including weddings on its scenic and inspiring grounds; and, generally, functions as an artistic beacon for the region. Involving working artists–both from the area and beyond–in planning and executing all manner of programs and cultivating fundamental relationships has ensured that Wustum and RAM remain vital.

When RAM came into existence in 2003, the role of the artist in institutional development necessarily expanded in need and scope. Artists who have played important roles at Wustum and RAM have done so not just as working artists, but also as teachers, donors, board members, volunteers, committee members, staff, activists, catalysts for large gifts, benefactors, and donors of significant archives. The artists included in this exhibition fulfill two criteria-they have been integral to the evolution of Wustum and RAM in one or more capacities and they are represented in the museum’s holdings.

A Year of Celebration
Many of the exhibitions at Racine Art Museum in 2017 continue the 75th anniversary celebration of RAM’s Wustum Museum. Open January 29 – July 9, 2017, Variations on a Theme: Teapots from RAM’s Collection, features a stunning selection of the museum’s holdings, part of a concentration launched by a pivotal gift of over 250 teapots from collector Donna Moog. Since that time, RAM has added over 100 teapots from other donors, establishing one of the largest public collections of contemporary artist-made teapots in the United States.

Open February 19 – June 4, 2017, WPA Art from RAM’s Collection highlights a selection of prints, watercolors, drawings, photographs, and textiles generated through the Federal Art Project (FAP) of Works Progress Administration (WPA), a program that provided jobs during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Initially, Wustum became an institution before it had an art collection. The museum’s first director Sylvester Jerry was able to obtain over 260 works produced through WPA to launch the collection. This effort was visionary for Wustum and RAM since it foreshadowed the current collecting foci-works on paper and contemporary craft.