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Saturday, September 30, 2023


Blaffer director departs after impactful, transformative tenure

provided by the Blaffer Art Gallery website

Claudia Schmuckli first became a pivotal part of the museum in 2004. She assumed the role of curator two years later. | Courtesy of the Blaffer Art Gallery

After seven years at the helm of UH’s art museum, Claudia Schmuckli is stepping down to become curator-in-charge of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco starting Sept. 1.

On Tuesday night, the Blaffer Art Museum community gathered to honor Schmuckli’s leadership and influence in a retrospective held at the Dudley Recital Hall.

The retrospective was divided up into three sections: an interview traveling through Schmuckli’s tenure, a Q&A session with the audience and a reception. The many art pieces Schmuckli oversaw throughout her tenure flashed on the screen behind her.

Schmuckli reflected upon her first show at Blaffer, one that she described as hectic yet enlightening.

“My first show at Blaffer was significant and set the tone for my direction to build on,” Schmuckli said to the audience. “It was like entering into a painting.”

Schmuckli took full control of the museum as a director in January of 2009 and immediately set to work by changing the title of the museum from “The Blaffer Gallery and Art Museum at UH” to the current, less cumbersome moniker.

As for Blaffer’s nickname, “The Hidden Jewel of Campus,” even with the positive connotation, she said something more reflective of the museum’s mission is in order.

“It’s a charming title,” Schmuckli said. “But as a director, you want to be visible not just to the University, but to the community and nationally.”

Schmuckli wished that the facility she will leave behind continues to grow because of its supportive and ambitious surrounding community.

She also believes the sky’s the limit for Blaffer under the new College of the Arts, which broke off from CLASS and will officially open Sept. 1.

“There is a huge opportunity with the new College of the Arts,” Schmuckli said. “The museum will be amplified and better overall.”

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