school closed at 5pm and no students or teachers were allowed
on the premises after hours, only museum security guards.
As a student and young teacher, I regularly stuck a matchbook
in a basement window lock of the Morrison building before
leaving at the end of the day. High bushes hid the windows,
and I would return in the evening or on weekends and crawl
through the window to work. I knew when the guards made their
rounds and hid in the rest room. After graduate school when
I was a full fledged instructor, administration gave me a
key to the building. I let students in evenings and weekends
to do school work. This was reported by security guards to
the administration and it was an ongoing source of irritation
to administrators. Finally, the president told me to stop
the practice of letting students in after hours or turn in
my key. I rented a small office down the street from school
and turned in my key.
exceptions, the majority of regional art schools were founded
between 1870 and 1900. The oldest being the Philadelphia Academy
of Art in the eighteenth century, Maryland Institute of Art
at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Cooper Union only
slightly later, Cranbrook Academy in the 1920s and Art Center
in the 1930s.
earliest directors at the Minneapolis School of Art had been
European drawing masters or painters. During the daytime,
the art school functioned as a finishing school for young
ladies studying drawing, watercolor, oil painting and sculpture.
At night, the studios were used to instruct trade-people in
commercial engraving and illustration, lettering or calligraphy
and other trade based skills. During the 1940s, Ed Kopietz
was the Director at the Minneapolis School of Art, and he
came from an advertising background.
the 1950s at most art schools, there were no departments,
and even when there were, the Director had absolute power
over teachers, students and curriculum. I recall an occasion
where I sassed the Registrar. I immediately found myself called
to the Directors office, and just as quickly, suspended
for two days. The Director had total responsibility for the
school, and made final decisions on everything. Other administrative
oficers were an Assistant Director, Business Manager and Registrar
and three secretaries. The Business Manager with an assistant
usually operated the school supply store in addition to keeping
faculty members, the Directors secretary was an especially
important person as she was often the intermediary between
them and the Director. The majority of teachers were practicing
artists and none had a degree in art. There were many part-time
teachers in both Fine Arts and Advertising Design. I believe
that to some extent or another, this pattern applied to most
art schools, especially those which were regional. It is my
impression that art schools in large metropolitan areas such
as New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles operated differently
and did not change as abruptly as the regional schools.
era began with the GI bill. One of the principal benefits
was a provision for post-secondary academic or technical education.
This was an amazing piece of legislation and most appropriate
for the times. The war had ended, and at the same time manufacturing
plants ceased wartime production, cut the workforce and began
retooling for peacetime markets. Millions of veterans were
coming home and would be seeking employment. The GI bill kept
many veterans off the job market for two to four years allowing
time for industry to make adjustments. At the end of the war,
there were approximately nine million men and women eligible
for educational benefits. The scale of the program significantly
raised the level of American workers and created a unique
educated middle class.
inundated almost every type of educational institution from
technical schools, art and music academies, and public or
private universities throughout the country. Art schools expanded
staffs and facilities to accommodate the sudden influx of
veterans with its accompanying prosperity.
GI bill created incredible incentive for growth in all higher
education, and it was to have an impact on post-secondary
education long after it was over.
of veterans declined about 1952 as quickly as it had begun.
Schools were over-committed and faced serious problems because
of the sudden decrease in revenue. Some art schools closed
down. This was when the Walker School of Art was phased out.
Other schools were incorporated into rapidly expanding state
systems of multi-campus institutions. A number of art schools
saw accreditation as an avenue to survival, and they began
to move in this direction. Accreditation changed single-purpose
art schools forever.
the move toward accreditation, a President replaced the Director
as chief administrative officer, and most presidents came
from academic backgrounds rather than art. At the Minneapolis
School of Art, the new president, Wilhelmus B. Bryan, had
formerly been the Dean of Humanities at Macalester College
and Dean of Students at Princeton. The Assistant Director
became Dean of the College, and in rapid succession, new administrative
offices were established such as Director of Admissions, Dean
of Students, Director of Alumni, Director of Business Affairs
and Development Officer Ever since, the process of adding
new administrative functions and administrators has continued
without abatement. Department Head positions were created,
faculty committees took responsibility for most academic affairs,
academic rank and tenure were installed, and academic courses
introduced into the curriculum. Many academic teachers were
borrowed from neighboring institutions and taught part-time
at the art school.
basic introductory program was reduced from two to one year,
and Foundations was staffed with full-time teachers assigned
only to that program. The new academic requirements represented
about one-third of the credits for graduation. This meant
a reduction in the number of studio hours. The movement of
art schools toward accreditation began in 1952, and in 1959
under the leadership of Dr. Bryan, the first art schools became
accredited, The Minneapolis School of Art, Chicago Art Institute
and Cranbrook Academy.
the call came through to President Bryan from the North Central
accrediting offices notifying us that The Minneapolis School
of Art had been accredited, he immediately called the president
of trustees. Mr. Bell contacted a catering firm and within
the hour, a large truck parked in front of the school. An
enormous punch bowl was placed in the front rotunda and there
were strawberry tarts and punch for everyone. All classes
were dismissed and everyone including some trustees joined
in the celebration.
1965, most art schools seeking accreditation had achieved
their goal. During this period, a number of proprietary schools
became accredited in order to benefit from federal funding
programs, notedly, Art Center, The Oakland School of Arts
and Crafts and The School of Visual Arts.