Fall exhibit will ‘unearth’ Sonnenschein Gallery collections

Students of all disciplines can benefit from the College’s art collections, some with pieces dating as far back as 3,000 B.C. Thailand. To make the art more accessible, Sami Niese ’15 has spent the last several months reorganizing the collection catalogue and the physical arrangement of the pieces.

Niese, an art history and history double-major, recently completed sorting through the 3D pieces and soon will tackle the 2D pieces of photography, paintings, and prints/drawings. Simultaneously, she is preparing an exhibit slated to open October 10 called “Unearthing the Sonnenschein” with the hope that students and faculty will see how these seemingly forgotten primary sources can serve pedagogical purposes.

“We have all of these pieces and it would be a terrible thing to let them go to waste,” she said. “There is so much potential for these pieces. They are a lost gem of Lake Forest.”

Niese will curate the exhibit under the guidance of gallery director Beckie Goldberg. In addition to viewing some featured pieces in the gallery, visitors will be invited to tour the storage areas to witness Niese’s archival progress and the workspace she has prepared for future student use.

Niese carefully cataloged each piece by its accession number, which includes the year it was donated to the College. She also cleaned the displays, added linings and LED lights to the shelving, purchased boxes for storing the smaller pieces, set up a photo booth for documenting pieces, and devised a simple check-in, check-out system to ensure everything is always accounted for.

Four or five binders contain the paper catalogue, categorized by objects, paintings, photographs, or prints/drawings. Included with each entry are the name of the donor, the name of artist, the title of the piece, and any other information available that would ease the identification process. Niese digitized the catalog and hopes to publish it online in the future.

An intern at the Art Institute of Chicago, assistant museum educator at First Division Museum at Cantigny in Wheaton, Ill. and aspiring museum curator, Niese appreciates a hands-on approach to learning, she said. She experienced its value, herself, when she used some of Ben Shahn’s photography from the 1930s in her Modern America class.

She used five additional pieces from the College’s collection for an essay she wrote called “Signs of Love and Family: A Study of the Collections” during her independent study class with James D. Vail III Professor of Art Ann Roberts. The pieces associated with that project, including an anonymous artist’s remake of Raphael and Giulio Ramano’s The Holy Family and Victor Herman’s Sancta Familia, will be exhibited in the Albright Gallery — possibly accompanied by an audio tour — starting October 10. Hopefully, Niese said, the exhibit will demonstrate to students how they can use the College’s art in their learning.