Cook Center for Public Arts and Humanities Will Open with Faculty Exhibitions

(BLOOMINGTON) – Indiana University’s Maxwell Hall will open to the public as the Gayle Karch Cook Center for Public Arts and Humanities with its first faculty exhibitions Feb. 5.

The new arts and humanities hub is named after Indiana University Bloomington alumna and historical preservationist Gayle Cook, whose generous donation helped make the building renovation possible. The project was also supported by a Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Maxwell Hall in snow
Maxwell Hall will host its first exhibitions as the Gayle Karch Cook Center for Public Arts and Humanities in February. Photo by James Brosher, Indiana University

The Cook Center will serve as a bridge between the campus arts and humanities community and downtown Bloomington’s vibrant arts and culture scene. It will bring several of the campus’s public-facing arts and humanities centers into the same building for the first time, allowing for greater collaboration and impact. The center includes space for the Arts and Humanities Council, College Arts and Humanities Institute, Center for Rural Engagement, IU Corps, Traditional Arts Indiana, Platform: An Arts and Humanities Research Laboratory, and the Book Lab, a new center dedicated to exploring the history of the book and contemporary bookmaking.

The space will also be available to faculty and students in the arts and humanities for lectures, exhibits, workshops and conferences. It includes offices for visiting scholars and artists, and will also house the new Arts and Humanities Student Guild. The internship program will provide real-world training and professional opportunities for students interested in public arts and humanities programming.

The Cook Center includes an Exhibition Gallery and Grand Hall that will showcase faculty and student work. Sarah Edmands Martin, assistant professor and area coordinator of graphic design in the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design, is co-curating one of the first two exhibitions opening Feb. 5 in the new space. The exhibitions give people the chance to experience art in person while wearing facemasks and following IU’s guidance for using common areas on campus.

Co-curating the other Cook Center opening exhibition is Martin’s Eskenazi School colleagues, Osamu James Nakagawa, distinguished professor and Ruth N. Halls Professor of photography; and David Ondrik, lecturer of photography.

The exhibition includes work from IU faculty and alumni, as well as photographer Henry Holmes Smith. Smith taught at IU for 30 years and was a pioneer in creating cameraless photographic images.

The Cook Center is also a dedicated space for the humanities. It includes a grand lecture hall and conference wing that will host many of the more than three dozen humanities conferences that take place on the Bloomington campus. Both the College Arts and Humanities Institute and the Arts and Humanities Council will host its humanities programs in the new space. Together they are developing new series for the next academic year, including high-impact public humanities talks, a story exchange and in-depth expert demonstrations.

A formal dedication and unveiling of the Cook Center will take place in April, to coincide with the kickoff of the first conference being held in the new space. Directed by the Platform research laboratory, the conference will focus on the work of the campus’s Indiana Studies team and feature an address by alumna Laverne Cox. A larger opening celebration will take place at the start of the fall 2021 semester.

For more information, or to schedule a tour, visit the Cook Center’s website.

Information Barbara Brosher, News at IU Bloomington