New Wehrheim Gallery prominently showcases internships, projects, and collaborative research
The gallery highlights the work done by students and faculty as part of the RIT-Genesee Country Village & Museum partnership
Photos from past internships, events, and research projects at Genesee Country Village & Museum (GCV&M) stretch from floor to ceiling in the new Wehrheim Gallery on campus. Located on the first-floor of the new Student Hall for Exploration and Development (SHED), the Wehrheim Gallery will be used to highlight work done as part of RIT’s partnership with GCV&M, which was established in 2016 and endowed in 2019 with a gift from Philip K. and Anne Wehrheim.
Visit the gallery
Want to visit the gallery? Stop by during the SHED open house on Jan. 18.
The space celebrates and sustains the goals of interdisciplinary, experiential learning that are hallmarks of the RIT-GCV&M partnership, including internship experiences, student and faculty research projects, and more. By showcasing the fruits of the partnership prominently, Professor Juilee Decker, program director of RIT’s museum studies program and chair of the RIT-GCV&M partnership committee, hopes more individuals across campus will gain awareness of the many collaborative opportunities the partnership holds for students, faculty, and the general RIT community.
“With the partnership, we aim to leverage each other’s capabilities to create a relationship that serves the university and the museum,” said Decker. “The museum has diverse needs, and we have at RIT this ecosystem where we have people who are researchers and scholars, and students who have a variety of interdisciplinary interests, aspirations, and skills, who can help meet those needs.”
Decker shared that the intention is to curate the exhibit case content in the gallery roughly twice per year, with the museum studies program coordinating the exhibition content development, design, and installation. Two of the cases will be devoted to faculty and staff research, and one will be devoted to an internship spotlight.
“Through the gallery, we are able to give snapshots of research and internship experiences so that others here in the RIT community can learn what their peers are doing, and how partnerships like this can help further one’s research,” said Decker. “For instance, Atia Newman, associate professor in the College of Art and Design, used the museum campus as a testbed for her current project, which is based in Pakistan. It was revelatory in terms of project conception, workflow, and needs in terms of materials, resources, and expertise. Having used the museum as a prototype, she can apply for grants to support her research with an early phase proof-of-concept and evidence of her abilities as a researcher and team lead.”
Kristen Walker, a fourth-year museum studies and history double major from Hilton, N.Y., is featured in one of the many photos currently displayed in the gallery. Walker worked as a collections assistant at GCV&M from May 2023 through December 2023.
Before accepting her internship and becoming a Wehrheim Scholar at GCV&M, she was unsure of what local opportunities were available to her. She said that hearing other students’ success stories was a comfort and helped encourage her on her own journey.
“I’m excited to see even more personal stories about student internships or research featured in the Wehrheim Gallery. It helps people see that, for starters, the program is here and it exists, and it shows that people have found success in the museum field,” said Walker.
Becky Wehle, president and CEO of GCV&M, is happy to be celebrating the work of the many Wehrheim Scholars and student and faculty researchers who have collaborated with the museum. Like Decker, Wehle and the staff at the museum hope the increased visibility can bolster the current partnership.
“Over the past seven years of our partnership, GCV&M has worked with so many great faculty, staff, and students from RIT— from classes helping us address issues of accessibility and visitor engagement to Wehrheim Scholars working in our curatorial, interpretation, nature center, and marketing departments. They have all been tremendously helpful in moving the work of the museum forward, and also in helping us to think differently about how we tackle a challenge we’re facing,” said Wehle.
The gallery is currently open to the public, subject to the SHED’s hours of operation.
Philip K. and Anne Wehrheim funded the development of the Wehrheim Gallery through their gift to support the partnership. The gift married Wehrheim’s interest in both institutions: he received a degree in business from RIT in 1966, and has been a long-time supporter of the museum.
Decker expressed additional thanks to MSM Inc., the woman-owned, local design firm that designed the gallery space, and Elizabeth Lamark, the photographer who took the majority of the images featured.
Anyone interested in learning how to collaborate with GCV&M or how to use the museum as a site for a field trip, conference location, or site for research and exploration can contact Decker at firstname.lastname@example.org.