New McMurty Building to serve as hub for Department of Art and Art History

July 22, 2015, 9:59 p.m.

The McMurtry Building, slated to be completed this summer, will serve as the new hub of activity for the Department of Art and Art History. Its aim is to offer students of all disciplines an opportunity to immerse themselves in a rich artistic experience of their own through exhibits and creative spaces that cultivate discussion.


The design of art history and art making

Matthew Tiews M.A. ’99 Ph.D. ’04, Associate Dean for the Advancement of the Arts, commented about the department’s goal for the building.

“The McMurtry Building will be an exciting architectural statement that will inspire all the students who study and create art in it and will attract students and faculty from all parts of campus, with engaging presentation and exhibition spaces and new opportunities for interaction,” Tiews said.

Unlike the current arts building, the Cummings Art Building, McMurtry will contain internal art exhibits, installations and creative spaces for students to collaborate and study, with different floors for filmmaking and photography, art history and other strands of art education.

Firms Boora Architects and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, charged with designing the building, stated in a video on the official McMurtry Building page that while their design plan was inspired by the classic arched style of Stanford architecture, they sought to take it one step further.

The art history and art-making facilities are linked together by two interlocking buildings based around a “quad-like” central space, with an open design between the buildings to encourage discussion and collaboration between students and faculty.


Art brings students together

Nancy J. Troy, current chair of the Department of Art and Art History and Victoria and Roger Sant Professor in Art, spoke about her hope for the building’s long-lasting impact on the University.

“I think that, hopefully, [the McMurtry Building] will be a spacious, porous place, and we will see that people will want to explore how to use it — how to make it their own,” Troy said. “I hope it’ll be a place where they can feel comfortable in conversation, studying, exhibiting, sharing, thinking of the arts, but also other things.”

Troy went on to explain the unique conglomeration of people she hopes the building will attract — not just art students, but creative thinkers and creators of all disciplines.

“I think already there has been a tremendous amount of attention paid to the arts,” Troy said. “I think there remain challenges… but it’s not surprising that people come to a place like Stanford which gets incredible publicity for what its students are able to achieve for tech-based careers.”

“Many science students who come to Stanford have incredible skills and abilities in the arts — it can be a great couple,” she added. “The arts do make for better citizens and better people, and even tech companies are looking for how people can think and be creative.”


Foundational support

DeeDee and Burt McMurtry, M.S. ’59, Ph.D. ’62, for whom the building is named, donated $30 million towards the estimated $85 million cost of construction and were closely involved in further fundraising as well as the design for the building. The McMurtrys have been longtime supporters of Stanford’s Art Initiative, launched in 2006 by former President John Hennessy and Provost John Etchemendy. The building serves as the center of an on-campus arts district that includes the Cantor Arts Center and Frost Amphitheater.

“The building could not have been built without the McMurtrys, who donated a major gift,” Troy said. “They were tremendously generous and also continued their commitment to get the building built.”

In remarks at the McMurtry Building’s groundbreaking ceremony in May 2013, Burt and DeeDee McMurtry spoke of their excitement at being involved with the project.

“Our expectations have been and remain very high, primarily because of the outstanding and committed faculty we have and those additional faculty who will be joining them,” Burt McMurtry said. “Their challenge and opportunity is to use the building as a tool for great achievement by them and by their students.”

“The arts are very important to us and to concentrate them in one area on campus is an amazing feat,” added DeeDee McMurtry. “I feel this beautiful building will be a draw for more and more students from all disciplines to visit it.”

As the building’s completion and opening draw nearer, Stanford’s art department hopes to see the building become a center of art appreciation, education and inspiration.

“I think art is an extraordinary tool no matter what we go home to do,” Troy said. “And with facilities like this, students can discover how to be well-rounded people.”


Contact Niharika Bhat at niharikabhat16 ‘at’

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