Art courses have benefited Mac – and should live on TheSpec.com – Opinions – Art courses have
benefited Mac – and should live on
–> Hugh G. Galloway
The Hamilton Spectator
(Mar 19, 2010)As a former chair of McMaster University’s Department of Art and Art History, I am dismayed by the news the faculty of humanities is proposing to discontinue the option of obtaining the degree of Honours Art History at McMaster.
The art history degree program at McMaster is the oldest in Canada and, despite the vicissitudes of fashion and economic priorities, has maintained a distinguished reputation for the quality of its graduates, many of whom have advanced to prestigious-postgraduate degrees, and distinguished careers in the academic and arts administration fields.
Because of the excellence of its instructors in the past, and the stimulating quality of courses which he attended, Dr. Herman Levy wished to give to the then-department a bequest which would enrich the art history and art students’ experience by allowing them the privilege of having artworks of outstandingly high quality from which to learn.
His bequest of $16 million, an extraordinarily generous gesture of confidence toward the historical and practical study of art at McMaster, incidentally raised the stature of the McMaster Museum of Art, making it recognizably one of the finest university art collections in Canada.
That reputation, also, has encouraged other benefactors to donate private collections to the museum.
The university has benefitted hugely from this generosity, which would not have occurred had it not been for the excellence, and commitment, of the art history faculty in the past.
The artistic reputation of McMaster University has grown in proportion to the financial support given to the art history and art programs which generated that reputation.
Levy’s bequest was given on the assumption that his generosity would advance the study of art into the future. As respect to his memory and wishes, and the wishes of others in the future, it is imperative that the Honours Art History Degree Program at McMaster continue, and be given enhanced support.
The university does not seem to appreciate the extraordinary benefit, relative to its modest cost, which art and art history have brought to McMaster, and the wider Hamilton community.
Professor Hugh G. Galloway now lives in Fife, Scotland.