On Regents Drive, humanities majors find themselves among a never-ending sea of STEM students who exude lack of sleep and different levels of learning.

And according to some, these humanities students can feel uncomfortable, unfamiliar with the terrain of science and engineering majors, and yearn to be around their peers who frequent the area around the Tawes building.

While humanities majors may have felt stranded in STEM territory in more than one way at the University of Maryland, they can now find themselves being welcomed into the arms of STEAM, (Science Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics,) because of a new collaboration.

The University of Maryland and the Phillips Collection announced a partnership Monday that is meant to transform the university from a “STEM” into a “STEAM” college.

The six-year collaboration with the first museum of modern art is part of an initiative to make the school more arts-oriented, providing students with access to the collection.

“[The partnership] brings a new vigor to our arts education and to the entire campus,” said University President Wallace Loh in a press release. “We are genuinely a STEAM university.”

The university originally planned to partner with the Corcoran Gallery of Art until it was “left at the altar” by the museum, according to The Washington Post

“[The partnership] rose from after the Corcoran effort failed,” said Bonnie Thornton Dill, the dean of the College of Arts and Humanities and professor of Women’s Studies. “[After that,] the Phillips Collection came to us to see if we would be interested in partnering with them.”

Highlights from the collaboration include free staff and student access to the museum, new curricula, two or more postdoctoral fellowships, internship opportunities and–most notably–the opening of a gallery and arts storage facility in College Park by 2021, according to Dorothy Kosinski, the director of the Phillips Collection.

“I’m excited about the fact that we’re working with an institution of this caliber that can really raise our profile in the arts and humanities,” Dean Dill said.

Kosinski said the University of Maryland already has a strong STEM side of education and it must embrace the arts order to become a well-rounded STEAM school.

Assistant Vice President of University Marketing and Communications Brian Ullmann said the university can’t be known for only being great in one or two areas. He said that the partnership will ultimately inspire collaboration between the arts and STEM programs.

“Going from STEM to STEAM, we tend to think about arts and sciences as two different areas,” he said. “What we envision is not that at all; what we envision is a convergence of these disciplines.”

Ullmann talked about art and science collaboration in a futuristic museum where  instead of audio headphones, a student receives a pair of augmented “reality” goggles that deconstructs the artwork and depicts different scenarios of the artists themselves–although this was just an idea.

“Imagine what happens when experts in [STEM fields] get together with people in the art world,” Ullmann said. “Something really cool is going to come out of the convergence of disciplines. That’s what it means to be a truly STEAM university.”

This partnership means that both parties benefit from the collaboration. Kosinski said that the Phillips Collection will reserve internship spots at its “robust” internship program.

“Students will end up working very seriously side by side with curators and conservators and get a totally different perspective,” she said. Kosinski also said that staff at the museum are working with UMD staff to create and define courses.

The facility will increase the amount of people who view the museum’s collection of more than 4,000 works, most of which are in storage. The open storage gallery would expand visibility of those works to students, staff and other visitors.

“I think this is really a very bold, cooperative partnership that we’ve crafted together,” said Kosinski. “[It] will serve as a real model as to how a modern art museum can work with a research university.”

Featured Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of John Consoli. 

WritersBloc_Headshots_23Alex Carolan is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at aaalex.carolan@gmail.com.

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