2020-21 Year in Review

July 1, 2021 kpillman No Comments

Photo of eighteen of thirty sheets that comprise of Wendy Red Star's Bi'nneete, each featuring a different horse.
Wendy Red Star, Bi’nneete (No Water) (selected details), 2021. Acrylic, graphite, kitakata paper, marble paper, 30 sheets. 112 x 182.75 inches, overall. © Wendy Red Star, photos courtesy Sargent’s Daughters, New York.

What a year.

Jonathan Binstock in the Vanden Brul Pavilion
Photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester.

Like many institutions, the Memorial Art Gallery had to shut down in March 2020 because of COVID-19. But every member of our Board of Managers and staff deftly pivoted, moving through some pretty peculiar predicaments so that we could maintain—at the level our patrons expect—our position at the center of the conversation on creativity.

Through virtual tours and expanded online academic programming, we broadened our reach while delivering on our mission to connect people, inspire fun, and ignite discovery through art.

That’s why we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to our supporters. We had to rely on you more heavily than usual, and you came through.

One of my favorite moments from the past year was seeing 231 people from across the country attend A Virtual ASL Tour of Season of Warhol. The virtual tour—of an exhibition celebrating legendary pop art pioneer Andy Warhol, an exhibition that delighted audiences and generated crucial financial revenue in a time of great need—was led in American Sign Language (ASL) and interpreted in spoken English.

Internally, a highlight I didn’t see coming was the museum staff’s twice-weekly meetings on Zoom—a routine started at the beginning of the pandemic to give comfort in a time of discomfort, and one that continues to bring us closer together as an ongoing weekly virtual meeting.

Looking ahead, the museum is poised for continued relevance through its exhibitions and installations that not only bring the best of the world’s art to Rochester, but also share the best of the Rochester arts scene with the world. Up Against the Wall: Art, Activism, and the AIDS Poster, a selection of HIV/AIDS Education Posters from the Atwater Collection at the University of Rochester’s River Campus Libraries, opens March 6. Centennial Sculpture Park, meanwhile, is expanding to include two monumental outdoor sculptures that advance our effort to reframe the conversation on art and make the community the centerpiece.

Thanks to all who’ve stuck with us through the challenges of this pandemic. I look forward to another exciting year. (Well, a little less exciting would be nice.)

—Jonathan P. Binstock, Ph.D.
Mary W. and Donald R. Clark Director

“We broadened our reach while delivering on our mission to connect people, inspire fun, and ignite discovery through art.”

^ Back to Top

Curatorial & Exhibitions

Throughout fiscal year 2021, while acquiring works of art and planning their presentation in the galleries, MAG’s Curatorial and Exhibitions teams also worked to bring the art to life through online exhibitions and other virtual viewing opportunities. A highlight included the online time-based media selection Melting Animals, which featured two programs of animated short films, viewed by over 2,000 online visitors. This project was supported by a grant from the Art Bridges Foundation and in-kind support from the National Film Board of Canada. In addition to organizing and showcasing nine exhibitions throughout the gallery, MAG acquired thirty-three works of art through a combination of purchases, gifts, and bequests.

Docent Gallery Exhibitions

Andy Warhol standing in a corner of a room, both walls covered in the repeating pattern of an oversize magenta cow head against a bright yellow background.
Andy Warhol with Cow Wallpaper, photo by Steve Schapiro/Corbis via Getty Images.

The Path to Paradise: Judith Schaechter’s Stained Glass
February 15–September 13, 2020

Archie Rand, Not to Insult or Harm Anybody With Words. A painting of an exaggerated human head, the mouth open as if shouting.
Archie Rand, Not to Insult or Harm Anybody With Words. (Leviticus 25:17), part of “The 613”, 2001-06. Serial painting comprised of 614 panels, acrylic on canvas, 20 x 16 in each. Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Mary Faith O’Neill.

Organized by MAG Curator in Charge Jessica Marten and the first exhibition to showcase a comprehensive survey and major scholarly assessment of the groundbreaking artist’s 37-year career. Featured approximately 45 stained-glass panels, along with a selection of related drawings and process materials, from private and institutional collections. The exhibition was extended due to Covid-19, then traveled to the Toledo Museum of Art and Des Moines Art Center.

Season of Warhol
October 24, 2020–March 28, 2021

Presented throughout four museum exhibition spaces:
Vanden Brul Pavilion: Cow Wallpaper and portfolio of Electric Chair screen prints
Media Arts Watch Gallery: Warhol T.V.
Docent Gallery: Andy Warhol Portfolios: A Life in Pop | Works from the Bank of America Collection
Lockhart Gallery: Silver Clouds

The 613 by Archie Rand
April 24–July 18, 2021

Featured 614 paintings by Archie Rand. Also included was the animated short film, Kol Nidre #3 (2017), with music by Jeremiah Lockwood.

Other Exhibitions

Organized by MAG’s Curatorial Team

1940/2020: In Celebration of the 80th Anniversary of the Gallery Council of the Memorial Art Gallery
Lockhart Gallery, July 26–October 11, 2020

A still from Giverny I, with a black woman sitting amidst green foliage, staring directly at the camera. Strips of a purple-grey splatter pattern break up the photo in irregular intervals.
Ja’Tovia Gary, still from Giverny I (NÉGRESSE IMPÉRIALE), 2017. Single-channel video, stereo sound, HD and SD video footage, 16:9 aspect ratio, 6 minutes, color/black & white. © Ja’Tovia Gary, courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York.

Ja´Tovia Gary: Giverny I (NÉGRESSE IMPÉRIALE)
Media Arts Watch Gallery, continued at MAG until August 23, 2020 (due to Spring 2020 Covid-19 closure)
Program Highlight: Centering Black Women: A Conversation about Art and Organizing with Dessane Lopez Cassell, Rachel DeGuzman and Almudena Escobar López

I want a president by Zoe Leonard, with selections from MAG’s permanent collection
Forman Gallery, July 2020–March 1, 2021

Tara Merenda Nelson: FourMats
Media Arts Watch Gallery, May 28–August 8, 2021

To Help People See, works by G. Peter Jemison (Seneca, Heron Clan)
Forman Gallery, March 13 –November 7, 2021

A Sense of Place: Prints from the Collection of David Z. Friedberg
Lockhart Gallery, June 25–December 5, 2021

Still from Bead Game, featuring a snake outlined in white beads eating another creature outlined in neon purple beads.
Ishu Patel, still from Bead Game, 1977. Color, sound, transferred from 16mm film. Courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada.

The online time-based media selection Melting Animals, which featured two programs of animated short films, was viewed by over 2,000 online visitors.

Permanent Collection Installation

Bill Viola’s Air Martyr, Earth Martyr, Fire Martyr, and Water Martyr, Fountain Court, March 2021.

Four stills from Bill Viola's martyrs series. Earth martyr: a man standing upright with dust falling on him. Air martyr: a woman suspended in the air, ankles and hands tied. Fire martyr: a man sitting in a chair while fire rages around him. Water martyr: a man suspended upside down with water rushing down on him.
Bill Viola, Earth Martyr, 2014, Air Martyr, 2014, Fire Martyr, 2014, Water Martyr, 2014. Four color high-definition videos on flat-panel displays, 7:10 minutes each. Marion Stratton Gould Fund, 2017.1.


Impressive government and private foundation grants supported important curatorial and exhibition projects, including the upcoming exhibition Up Against the Wall: Art, Activism, and the AIDS Poster. MAG also received grants to support the renovation and installation of a custom compact mobile shelving system in the Small Object Storage area, the conversion of two permanent collection galleries to LED lighting, and the conservation of an important 17th-century Japanese screen in the permanent collection.

Acquisition Highlights


Kara Walker, untitled portfolio of 12 ink, wash and watercolor on paper drawings—Marion Stratton Gould Fund, 2020.79.1-.12.

Norman Lewis, Regimentation, oil and ink on paper—Fernando Zobel and Marion Stratton Gould Fund, by exchange, 2021.7.

Wendy Red Star, Bi’nneete (No Water), series of 30 drawings—Marion Stratton Gould Fund, 2021.12.

Sky Hopinka, Here you are before the trees, three-channel digital video, color, sound—Marion Stratton Gould Fund, 2021.13.

A 16th-century Renaissance majolica birth dish—The Marie Adelaide Devine Fund and Marion Stratton Gould Fund, 2021.14.

Preston Singletery's Tlingit Magic Hat, a glass hat made of red glass with black Tlingit designs.
Preston Singletary, Tlingit Magic Hat, 2000. Glass. Gift of Brian Cameros, 2021.1.


Sol Lewitt, Wall Drawing #957: Form Derived from a Cube, Anonymous Gift, 2020.75.

Deborah Butterfield, Untitled, bronze, Gift of Robert B. and Pamela M. Goergen, 2020.79.

Kota Ezawa, National Anthem (Cleveland Browns), Gift of Jody Asbury, Charlie and Maggie Symington, an anonymous donor, Margaret M. and David J. Burns, an anonymous donor, and R. T. Miller Fund, by exchange, 2020.81.

Preston Singletary, Tlingit Magic Hat and Canoe Paddle, Gift of Brian Cameros, 2021.1 and 2021.2.

Four works of 16th-century Renaissance stained glass, Gift of Mark Chaplin and John Strawway, 2020.82, 2020.83, and 2021.15.1 & 2.

Circular stained glass window depicting the adoration of the magi, in greyscale with details picked out in gold.
The Adoration of the Magi, ca. 1520. Glass with silver stain and vitreous paint. Gift of Mark H. Chaplin and John Strawway, 2020.83.

Curatorial & Exhibitions Highlights

3 Exhibitions in Docent Gallery
6 Exhibitions organized by MAG staff

5 Major art purchases
9 Major art gifts

^ Back to Top

Learning & Engagement

Marketing & Engagement Department

The Marketing & Engagement Department focused on finding new ways to keep the community engaged with MAG and its art, much of it through virtual programming and digital content. While capacity limits did not allow us to engage with visitors through festive events such as Museum of the Dead, Cocktails with Creatives, and A Night to Remembrall, we did host some in-person programs and found alternative ways to offer art and creative experiences. Our efforts inspired video and digital tours of exhibitions, outdoor art scavenger hunts throughout Rochester, ‘love letters’ to artworks meaningful to MAG staff, and artistic creations inspired by works in our collection.

Virtual Lectures

Hosted 10 virtual lectures attended by 1,248
visitors, including:

Season of Warhol Black Artist Engagement Project. Six artists participated in an adapted and deconstructed Long Table conversation hosted by Rachel DeGuzman of 21st Century Arts Inc. and MAG’s Mary W. and Donald R. Clark Director Jonathan Binstock. Via Zoom, the event welcomed 76 viewers.

Exclusive free access to Lessons of the Hour—Frederick Douglass, the MAG-commissioned work of media art by artist Isaac Julien, drew 590 registrants.

Quajay Donnell, a black man in a sweatshirt with a ball cap, standing in front of a painting in MAG.
Photo of Quajay Donnell leading a DeTOUR.

MAGsocial Events

Hosted 19 DeTOURs (14 of them in-person)
for 246 attendees, including:

The SOLD OUT Wonders of Warhol DeTOUR with a costumed Jonathan Binstock as our resident Andy Warhol, and What Do You Meme DeTOURs with MAGsocial Committee Member and frequent collaborator Quajay Donnell.

A SOLD-OUT virtual trivia event, with 50 participants and questions from favorite trivia board games of the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.

Three virtual Celebration Days, with 492 viewers. We welcomed the community back to MAG for an in-person celebration of Jewish Heritage Day on June 13. At that event, MAG safely welcomed 209 visitors.

Screenshot of a Zoom screen recording, showing nine boxes with different people, most of them black.
Still from Season of Warhol Black Artist Engagement Project longtable discussion.

Marketing & Engagement Highlights

10 virtual lectures attended by 1,248 visitors
Sold out virtual trivia event with 50 participants
19 DeTOURs for 246 attendees
3 virtual Celebration Days viewed by 492 visitors
In-person Jewish Heritage Day safely attended by 209 visitors

145,528 unique visitors on MAG’s website
183,220 engagements across MAG’s social media platforms
6.7 million views of social media content
139.2% growth in MAG’s social media audience

Department of Academic Programs

The Department of Academic Programs added new virtual resources and learning opportunities, including a Remote Learning & Homeschooling webpage, and programs designed for other specific audiences. One highlight is World Religion Online Experiences, the virtual counterpart to our popular World Religion Kits, available in MAG’s Charlotte Whitney Allen Library, which help teach cultural diversity awareness. In fiscal year 2021, we began offering synchronous virtual tours for grades K-12. Offering the tours at no charge for the 2020–21 school year, MAG hosted guests from Rochester to California. Visits facilitated for undergraduate and graduate students included the Art and Observation program, which uses the museum’s collection to help medical and nursing students hone observational skills.

Screenshot of a virtual school tour. On the right, there's video of the tour guide speaking; the majority of the screen displays a slide which shows different Ancient Egyptian relics.
Still from a virtual school tour.

Academic Programs Highlights

Pre-K–12 School Tours and Field Trips: 1,906 students (192 virtual)
College and University Engagements through School Tours and Field Trips: 793 students (454 virtual)
Art and Observation: 266 students (130 virtual)
Especially for Educators Professional
Development Workshops: 89 educators and administrators
Remote Learning and Homeschooling
Resources: 17 introduced

Meet Me at MAG (virtual): 95 participants
MAGconnect (in-person): 128 visitors
Virtual ASL Tour of Season of Warhol and Andy Warhol: A Life in Pop: 231 viewers
Nancy S. & Peter O. Brown Guest
Lectureship in the Art & Architecture of
Ancient Civilizations (virtual);
Presenter Michael Seymour, PhD,
Assistant Curator of Ancient Near Eastern Art, Metropolitan Museum: 66 viewers

Creative Workshop

A photo of a student working in the Creative Workshop, wearing a face mask.
Students working safely in-person at the Creative Workshop.

Art classes took on a special meaning for many of our students during this difficult year. Strict adherence to COVID protocols made it possible for the Workshop to start running classes again, but with modifications that focused on safety. Class sizes were smaller and equipment was spaced out to help allow for social distancing. Room capacity limitations greatly affected the number of classes we could run at one time. While some adult students were comfortable attending classes in-person, Zoom options also were available. Parents were grateful for the opportunity to have their children back in the classroom and off their computers, especially during the summer months.

Creative Workshop Highlights

All adult clay classes offered were sold out
213 students attended art history classes via Zoom
305 kids attended a full day, in-person art or clay camp

A grant-funded program allowed us to make 5 video art lessons for kids that were free to the public
893 online visitors saw one of our student and faculty shows

^ Back to Top


Gallery Council

A photo of two women wearing the blue Gallery Council apron, standing in the Vanden Brul pavilion next to sales cases.
Gallery Council member Katherine Cove and 2018-20 Gallery Council President Pamela Miller Ness volunteering at the Fine Craft Show & Sale.

The Gallery Council’s passionate and committed art enthusiasts continued to help sustain MAG through volunteering and valuable fundraising. Among the Council’s highlights was being lead sponsor of the 67th Rochester-Finger Lakes Exhibition, among other important MAG sponsorships. Fifty volunteers provided sales assistance, customer service, and merchandising support in THE STORE @ MAG. Despite other Gallery Council fundraisers not taking place this year, two Art Tours and the Fine Craft Show & Sale went forward through virtual programming, as did exciting educational programs planned and hosted by the Program Committee. Behind the scenes, the Nominating Committee completed its search to fill vacant board positions with strong candidates.

Gallery Council Highlights

Astute financial planning allowed the Gallery Council, which has contributed over $4 million to MAG since 1940, to make a $55,800 commitment to MAG for fiscal year 2021:

$30,000 to support MAG’s Celebration Days
$10,000 for the Season of Warhol suite of exhibitions
$10,000 for Creative Workshop scholarships

$5,000 for the Up Against the Wall: Art, Activism, and the AIDS Poster exhibition
$800 to send a member of the Store Steering Committee to the NY Now Show

In addition, the Gallery Council pledged four years of its annual $25,000 in-kind gift award to the Centennial Sculpture Park Phase 2 expansion project, for a total of $100,000.


This year, more than 1,000 people donated their time and energy to help further the mission of the Memorial Art Gallery. Our volunteers are a crucial part of the MAG team and help in all areas across the museum, including day-to-day operations, special events, and everywhere in between. All volunteers receive on-site training and an invitation to an annual volunteer recognition reception. Volunteers who work more than 100 hours annually receive discounts at THE STORE @ MAG and free or reduced admission to museum events.

A photo of the fence in front of MAG, with a rainbow of ribbons fluttering in the breeze. Two people step up to tie more ribbons on.
Volunteers tie ribbons onto the fence in front of MAG in celebration of Pride Month.
Four visitors standing at a table to check in, with a volunteer helping them.
Volunteers help people check in to an event.


MAG’s Docents (a word derived from the Latin “to teach”) are an integral part of the museum’s efforts to enhance people’s lives by cultivating relationships and building community through the direct experience of art and creativity. Each year, our volunteer Docents lead thousands of school children on tours of the collection and exhibitions. A welcoming Docent voice is the first introduction to MAG for many visitors.

Docent-led tours, including weekly public tours, welcomed 2,379 visitors (967 virtual).

^ Back to Top


Advancement team faced immense challenges last year, especially with helping to balance MAG’s budget, which could not have been done without the generous support of members, patrons, and community organizations. The pandemic forced MAG to reduce its budget by about $1.2 million, furlough and lay off employees, and implement pay cuts for senior staff during the first six months of the year. In the face of these obstacles, Advancement won significant support to meet operational needs and fund critical programs. Notable efforts included supporting Season of Warhol, educational initiatives such as remote learning resources for school programs, and community outreach programs like MAGconnect. An extraordinary one-time commitment was made, endowing a future curatorial position in Asian art, which closed out the year’s fundraising successes.

A digital rendering of MAG grounds, featuring Pia Camill's ranbow sculpture in the background and Rashid Johnson's Mosaic Pavilion in the foreground.
Centennial Sculpture Park rendering, Phase 2, courtesy of Bayer Landscape Architecture, PLLC.

Fundraising Highlights

Astute financial planning allowed the Gallery Council, which has contributed over $4 million to MAG since 1940, to make a $55,800 commitment to MAG for fiscal year 2021:

$1.3 million lead gift for MAG’s Centennial Sculpture Park expansion
$2 million commitment to establish an Associate Curator for Asian Art position at MAG, and maintain and acquire Asian art
$320,903 awarded in government funding and grants

$110,532 raised during MAG’s annual fundraiser, An Artists’ Affair, to support K-12 programs
14 live events over 7 days for the M&T Bank Clothesline Online Festival, and $41,277 raised in sponsorships and gifts
12 organizations and 14 additional individuals and bequests supported MAG with gifts of $25,000 or more

4,611 households supported MAG through memberships.

We are deeply grateful for all gifts, large and small. In this publication we recognize the
following organizations and individuals who donated $25,000 or more in fiscal year 2021 (July 1, 2020–June 30, 2021):


Anonymous Donor
Art Bridges Foundation
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Louis S. & Molly B. Wolk Foundation
Monroe County
M&T Bank
New York State Council on the Arts
Rubens Family Foundation
The Davenport-Hatch Foundation
The Sands Family Foundation
The William & Sheila Konar Foundation

Individuals and bequests:

Anonymous Donor
Anonymous Donor
Anonymous Donor
Helen H. Berkeley
Estate of Allen C. Boucher
David J. & Margaret M. Burns
Mark H. Chaplin & John Strawway
Patricia S. Criticos
Joan L. Feinbloom
Dr. David Z. Friedberg
Robert B. & Pamela M. Goergen
Dr. Joshua N. Goldberg
Dr. Marilynn & David M. Grant
Todd & Stephanie Green
Howard Konar & Meribeth Palmer
Sheila Konar
Dr. William Maniscalco
Estate of Betty Plumb Miller
Joan B. Morgan
Jack Rubens & Helen Bikoff Rubens
Dr. William M. Valenti

^ Back to Top

Financial Report 2020-21

A revenues and expenses chart showing that MAG was $103 over budget in 2020 and $20 under budget in 2021.
A donut chart showing how much of MAG's revenue came from where. In order from greatest to least: endowment, membership/gifts, university of Rochester, earned income, the government.
A donut chart showing where MAG's expenses were. From most to least: advancement/marketing/visitor services, administration, facilities, exhibitions, curatorial, academics, technology.

PDF Version

Press Releases