2021-22 Year in Review

December 20, 2022 kpillman No Comments

The past year for the Memorial Art Gallery has been one of robust recovery.

A painting by G. Peter Jemison. The subject is a strand of hollyhock, against an earthy red background, and each part of the flower is different colors.
G. Peter Jemison, Hollyhock, 1974. Acrylic on canvas. Gift of G. Peter Jemison, 2019.35.

We knew that it wasn’t going to be enough simply to welcome people back to the museum in a post-pandemic world. We needed to take them by the hand and show them new ways to find fun and discovery in our outstanding collections and special programs.

We did just that with Up Against the Wall: Art, Activism, and the AIDS Poster, a selection from the AIDS Education Poster Collection at the University of Rochester’s River Campus Libraries. Six years in the making and impeccably timed, the deeply informed, extraordinarily rich exhibition about yet another pandemic came together thanks to the work of a blue-ribbon advisory committee dedicated to representing diverse experts and communities. Because of the committee’s work, an engaged audience was ready to show up long before the 15-week exhibition opened.

MAGconnect, meanwhile, carried on strong with its mission to offer free transportation, a dynamic tour, and a one-year MAG membership to qualified individuals from marginalized communities.

MAG also hit a milestone in integrating itself even more seamlessly with the community it serves. It has been a dream of the Board of Managers to complete the Centennial Sculpture Park along University Avenue since before I arrived in 2014. This fiscal year, enough money was raised for this next phase of the Park’s design, construction, and art acquisitions—with a ribbon cutting planned for 2023.

I felt humbled to be director at a time when the museum took stock of the exceptional 50-plus-year career of our region’s own G. Peter Jemison, a painter and multimedia artist, foundational figure in the Native American art world, and a faith keeper of the Seneca Nation of Indians who founded the Ganondagan Art & Culture Center.

And I continue to revel in exciting news. A transformational anonymous gift of $4.15 million, the largest in our history, enabled us to permanently endow our contemporary art program. Now we can hire MAG’s first curator of contemporary art, who will help shed new light on the latest developments of the international art world, which will inevitably further illuminate the meaning and value of our historical collections.

I offer my sincere thanks to all of you who so generously donate to, volunteer for, and support MAG. Your generosity makes all of the above-mentioned possible. In turn, we’ll keep dreaming of new ways to support the community we are so grateful to serve.

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

“We’ll keep dreaming of new ways to support the community we are so grateful to serve.”

Curatorial & Exhibitions

MAG’s Curatorial & Exhibitions teams escalated efforts to acquire and exhibit works emphasizing diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion. The 67th annual Rochester-Finger Lakes Exhibition, for the first time curated locally, saw more diversity among artworks and applicants. We assembled the museum’s first major exhibition devoted to the University of Rochester’s vast collection of thought-provoking and visually arresting HIV/AIDS-related posters, and enhanced an exhibition on Renaissance art with materials from MAG’s permanent collection. Our galleries showcased themes of protest/power, race and gender, feminism, and other socially relevant topics. An Institute of Museum and Library Services grant funded the completion of a major Small Object Storage renovation project.

Docent Gallery Exhibitions

A photograph of the Docent Gallery during the 67th Rochester Finger-Lakes Exhibition.
67th FLRX in the Docent Gallery.

67th RFLX
August 15-October 17, 2021

Rochester’s oldest and longest-running juried exhibition showcases new work in all media by emerging and established artists from a 27-county region of Western and Central New York. Traditionally RFLX has invited curators from outside of the Finger Lakes region. This was the first time that MAG chose a local curator, Amanda Chestnut. We also received a more diverse selection of artworks from a more diverse applicant pool than in previous years.

A photo of a suit of armor in a glass case
MAG’s suit of armor in the Renaissance Impressions exhibition.

Renaissance Impressions
November 14, 2021-February 6, 2022

Renaissance Impressions: Sixteenth-Century Prints from the Kirk Edward Long Collection was organized by the American Federation of the Arts. MAG added a significant number of Renaissance paintings, armor, and decorative arts from the permanent collection to enhance the exhibition.

Up Against the Wall: Art, Activism, and the AIDS Poster
March 6-June 19, 2022

Up Against the Wall was the first major exhibition devoted to the University of Rochester’s vast collection of HIV/AIDS-related posters. The exhibition featured 165 of the most visually arresting and thought-provoking posters from the over 8,000 posters from 130 countries assembled by collector, physician, and medical historian Dr. Edward C. Atwater. Dr. Atwater generously donated the entire collection, which also includes a broad range of AIDS-related ephemera, to the University’s River Campus Libraries’ Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation beginning in 2007.

Other Exhibitions

Shawn Dunwoody, Unfinished Business, 2021. Acrylic on canvas. On loan from artist, 37.2021L.

Forman and Cameros Galleries
Kota Ezawa’s National Anthem, and thematically related (protest/power) loan of Shawn Dunwoody’s Unfinished Business
“To Help People See”: The Art of G. Peter Jemison

Lockhart Gallery
Chitra Ganesh: Sultana’s Dream
Paul Garland: Intuitive Progression

Media Arts Watch Gallery
Tony Cokes: Market of the Senses and first-ever acquisition by popular choice from this exhibition
SKy Hopinka: Memories of Movement

Acquisition Highlights


Jun Kaneko, Untitled, Dango, 2017

Sanford Biggers, Oracle, 2022

Cannupa Hanska Luger, Lost, 2021

Unique Fair-Smith, The Eclectic Man, 2020

Crystal Z Campbell – three collage photos and one single-channel video

Frank Diaz Escalet, Untitled, 1978

Two ledger drawings; related to last year’s acquisition of Wendy Red Star’s Bi’ nneete (No Water)

Tony Cokes, The Queen is Dead… Fragment 2, 2019

Nona Faustine, Fragment of Evidence, 2019

Chitra Ganesh, Nightwatchers, 2020

A photo of a ceramic arm, cut off at the shoulder. The arm starts off as white at the shoulder, with red triangles, and progresses down to red at the hand. The word "lost" is engraved in gold on the fingers like a tattoo.
Cannupa Hanska Luger, Lost, 2021. Ceramic and mixed media. Clara and Edwin Strasenburgh Fund, 2021.60.

Selected Gifts:

Two pieces of 17th-century Venetian glassware
– Gift of Mark Chaplin and John Strawway

Four pieces of Renaissance stained glass
– Gift of Mark Chaplin and John Strawway

Tony Cragg, Versus, 2013
– Gift of David Brush

Four works on paper by Harvey Ellis
– Gift of the Estate of Jean France

Elizabeth Murray, Bill Alley, 2006
– Gift of Jen Townsend and Ed Vates

Robert E. Marx, Minion
– Gift of Driek and Michael Zirinsky

Gift of 17 works of contemporary art
– from the Collection of Ninah and Michael Lynne, Courtesy of Sotheby’s, New York

Three paintings by D’Via artists: Uzi Buzgalo, Portrait of George Veditz, 2005; Susan Dupor, Push the Red Button, 1995; and Nancy Rourke, Sterilized Without Consent, 2018
– Gift of Patti Durr

Attributed to Cedar Tree, Drawing from Cedar Tree Ledger Book, ca. 1880. Crayon and graphite on lined paper. Virginia Jeffrey Smith Fund, 2022.36

Curatorial & Exhibitions Highlights

7 Exhibitions organized by MAG staff

15 Major art purchases
57 Major art gifts

^ Back to Top

Learning & Engagement

Department of Academic Programs

A photo of a panel discussion at the Speaking Through Silence conference.
One of the three panel discussions at the all-day symposium Speaking Through Silence: Speaking Through Silence: A Public Conference on HIV/AIDS Histories. Photo by Gerry Szymanski.

After a year of pause due to the pandemic, the Department of Academic Programs (ACP) brought back our robust multi-visit arts integration program, the MAG-Rochester City School District Expanded Learning Collaboration (ELC), and extended its reach from three schools to five serving 518 students in Grades 2–4. We also engaged with the kindergarten students from RCSD #19, one of the partner schools for ELC. A museum educator made visits to their classroom and used art works in MAG’s collection as a vehicle for learning experiences that span beyond visual art.

ACP also offers engaging public programs that connect our audiences with the permanent collection or temporary exhibitions.  The programming for fiscal year 22 included artist talks by Tony Cokes and Sky Hopinka, two symposia: Renaissance Impressions: A Guide to the Exhibition and Speaking Through Silence: A Public Conference on HIV/AIDS Histories, and a performance of Whether to Scream or Breathe: A Collaborative Concert Between the Sequoia Reed Quintet and MAG, which premiered a new composition inspired by five artworks in MAG’s collection.

A still from a YouTube video, showing a woman in the middle of signing ASL.
Virtual ASL Tour: Pittsford on the Erie Canal led by MAG docent Jackie Schertz.

Increasing accessibility for all audiences is a continuing endeavor of ACP. We produced our first Deaf-centric virtual tour that showcases objects in MAG’s permanent collection. This virtual tour, the first in the series on our YouTube channel, spotlights George Harvey’s Pittsford on the Erie Canal, and is led entirely in American Sign Language (ASL). ACP’s public programs always incorporate live ASL interpretation.

Academic Programs Highlights

Pre-K–12 School Tours and Field Trips:
Participated by 3,405 students [25 virtual]

College and University Engagements through School Tours/Field Trips:
Participated by 1,920 students [30 virtual]

Public Programs:
Attended by 400 people [76 virtual]

Creative Workshop

A photograph of a woman molding a clay pot on a pottery wheel.
Creative Workshop teacher Kim Kurtz demonstrates in Clay Camp.

In-person art classes made a vibrant comeback at the Creative Workshop. All eight weeks of our hands-on, all-day Art Day Camp sold out, as did most adult ceramics classes. Member birthday parties also returned. Our outreach extended to more community-requested programs, including working with Norman Howard School students on curriculum-based clay projects and Girl Scout Brownies on earning pottery badges. Our efforts landed us a spot on the Kids Out & About list of favorite Arts Educators in Rochester.

Creative Workshop Highlights

12 Member birthday parties
450 kids attended a full-day, in-person art camp
679 adults attended an in-person class

421 kids attended an in-person Saturday class
39 scholarships awarded for youth and adult students

Marketing & Engagement Department

Photo of Quajay Donnell speaking to a tour group in MAG's Hurlbut Gallery.
A DeTOUR with community tour leader Quajay Donnell.

The Marketing & Engagement Department boosted audience engagement efforts with increased crossover programming and social media outreach. Highlights include a World AIDS Day event featuring free admission and a livestreamed concert to preview the exhibition Up Against the Wall: Art, Activism, and the AIDS Poster. During the Dudes, Nudes, and Broods DeTOUR, tied to the Renaissance Impressions exhibition, visitors received an educational, entertaining lesson on the intersection of art and human anatomy. We geared new programs toward our youngest audiences, with monster and bunny themes. For the community at large, the #MAGmoment hashtag inspired more people to brand their museum experiences on Instagram.

Marketing & Engagement Highlights

38 exhibition-related and MAGsocial programs attended by 3,546 people
6 sold-out DeTOURS
5 Celebration Days attended by 2,029 people

Over 608,218 unique website page views
85% of website visitors were new
80,769 engagements across MAG’s social media platforms
8.2 million views of social media content
7.9% growth in MAG’s social media audience

^ Back to Top


The Gallery Council

A photo of many works of art set up for the 2022 Art & Treasures Sale in the MAG pavilion.
Art & Treasures Sale 2022.

The Gallery Council’s active and enthusiastic volunteer members participated in four on-site fundraisers, plus additional fundraising through Art Tours and THE STORE @ MAG. The innovative and creative thinking of its members, as well as innumerable hours of hard work and friendship, continue to help sustain MAG. Among the Council’s highlights were being lead sponsor of the 2021-2022 Celebration Series, the 67th Rochester–Finger Lakes Exhibition, and the Creative Workshop. Thirty volunteers provided sales assistance, customer service, and merchandising support in THE STORE @ MAG. To be as accommodating as possible, the Program Committee planned and hosted creative programs both in-person and virtually.

Gallery Council Highlights

Astute financial planning allowed the Gallery Council, which has contributed over $4 million to MAG since 1940, to make a $55,500 commitment to MAG for fiscal year 2022:

$10,000 to support MAG’s Celebration Days
$10,000 for the 67th Rochester Finger-lakes Exhibition

$10,000 for Creative Workshop scholarships
$500 for the Herdle Award

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.


MAG’s Docents 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 schoolchildren 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 6,247 visitors.

^ Back to Top


As the MAG and the Advancement Team continue to emerge from the two-and-a-half-year pall created by the pandemic, we realize how much we depend on the generosity and friendship of so many MAG lovers. We are so grateful for the ongoing support of members, patrons, and community organizations, including corporations and foundations.

Even with the obstacles posed by the pandemic, we were able to raise enough annual and special gifts to meet operational needs and fund critical programs. Notable efforts included a collaboration with the River Campus Libraries to present Up Against the Wall: Art, Activism, and the AIDS Poster, the first major exhibition devoted to the University of Rochester’s vast collection of HIV/AIDS-related posters, given to the University’s library, by Dr. Edward C. Atwater, collector, physician, and medical historian.

Also, MAG received an extraordinary gift, the largest cash gift in its history, from an anonymous donor, to fund a new position: curator of contemporary art. The gift also established an endowment for the acquisition, care, and exhibition of contemporary art.

Fundraising Highlights

$4.15 million commitment to establish a curator of contemporary art position at MAG, and to support the contemporary art program
$1.1 million received through gifts of art
$644,000 awarded in government funding and grants

$68,211 raised in net revenue during MAG’s annual fundraiser, An Artists’ Affair, to support K-12 programs
$12,136 guests attended the M&T Bank Clothesline Festival
28 individuals and bequests and 9 organizations supported MAG with gifts of $25,000 or more

4,321 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 2022 (July 1, 2021–June 30, 2022):


Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation
Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation
Institute of Museum and Library Services
The William & Sheila Konar Foundation
M&T Charitable Foundation
Monroe County
New York State Council on the Arts
New York State Education Department
Nocon & Associates
Riedman Foundation
Rubens Family Foundation
Louis S. & Molly B. Wolk Foundation

Individuals and bequests:

Anonymous donor (2)
James V. Aquavella
Douglas & Abigail Bennett
Patricia Braus & Edwin J. Lopez
David Brush
Estate of Richard F. Brush
Estate of Margaret J. Carnall
Mark H. Chaplin & John Strawway
Joan L. Feinbloom
Linda & Robert Fox
Laura L. Fulton & Martin P. Zemel
Todd & Stephane Green
Estate of Frances H. Holdren

Susan and Chris Holliday
Howard Konar & Maribeth Palmer
Dawn F. Lipson
Estate of Evelyn Lovejoy
Ninah Lynne
William Maniscalco
Nancy B. Miller
Joan B. Morgan
Nannette Nocon &
Karl Wessendorf
Deborah Ronnen
Jack Rubens &
Helen Bikoff Rubens
Lori Van Dusen
Estate of Daan M. Zwick

Government Grants Received in FY22

$50,000 from Institute of Museum and Library Services for MAG-RCSD ELC
$52,000 from New York State Council on the Arts for Operating Support
$10,000 from New York State Council on the Arts for MAG-RCSD ELC, made possible by New York State Senator Jeremy A. Cooney
$160,000 from Monroe County for Operating Support

$219,000 from New York State Council on the Arts – Capital Projects for Sculpture Park, installation of new security system, and roof renovations
$50,000 from New York State Education Department for Up Against the Wall: Art, Activism, and the AIDS Poster, made possible by New York State Assembly member Harry S. Bronson

Total Awarded = $541,000

^ Back to Top

Financial Report

A revenues and expenses chart showing that MAG met budget in FY 2021 and FY 2022.

PDF Version