Birke Art Gallery Moves to Visual Arts Center – The Parthenon

The Birke Art Gallery has found a new home at the Visual Arts Center showcasing artwork for anyone visiting downtown Huntington after welcoming guests to its campus for nearly 50 years.

Last May, members of the School of Art and Design proposed bringing together Marshall University’s three art galleries under one roof. After seven months of planning and renovation, the Birke Art Gallery will reopen to the public in its new space on Wednesday, November 16.

When the galleries were separated, it could sometimes take up to two weeks to scroll through more artwork after the previous exhibition closed, leaving one or both galleries empty. According to gallery director Jamie Platt, the Birke’s move allows for a constant display of art.

“I’m very happy that people can come in and be inundated with art to look at and there will always be art to look at,” Platt said. “It’s heartbreaking to have to tell guests there’s nothing to see. It’s almost like saying ‘Get out’ and we don’t want anyone to feel unwelcome here.

The combination of galleries creates many possibilities for future artists and show concepts, Platt said.

“One of the things I’m hoping we can do is create a giant show with multiple parts that use all the galleries at once,” Platt said. “We can create simultaneous events where there are opening celebrations for all the shows or two of the shows at the same time.”

On its opening night, the new Birke Art Gallery will host its inaugural exhibition, the Foundations Review Exhibition. These exhibitions feature a collection of work by students of the School of Art and Design and are for many students a first look at exhibiting their work in a professional setting.

“The foundation review exhibit is always a big deal because for many students it’s their first time displaying their work in a gallery,” Platt said. “These exhibits are monumental for the students because the artwork is so different when it’s in the school hallway than when it’s in a gallery. It’s a big step for these artists because it’s going to be part of what they do in their professional career.

William E. Bennett