About the Tang Museum

The purpose of the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery is to awaken the community to the richness and diversity of the human experience through the medium of art.

The Tang invites curiosity and collaborative learning through active engagement with ideas, artworks, and exhibitions. Programming tailored to foster formative connections between contemporary art and students of all ages is central. Critical to this end are direct experiential opportunities for Skidmore students to participate in integral aspects of museum practice.

The Tang Museum collects works of art, which by their preservation and display, provide opportunity for further study. A vigorous publication program serves as a learning tool and will join regular traveling exhibitions as important means of outreach.

A Teaching Museum

The Tang’s designation as a teaching museum signals Skidmore’s intent to make Tang exhibitions and museum use by students and faculty a significant aspect of the interdisciplinary undergraduate liberal arts education it offers. The museum’s mission focuses on ideas; regular use of museum galleries and collection storage as teaching spaces, and the principle that artworks can and should be used to advance knowledge across the disciplines.

Installation view, The Jewel Thief, 2010, Tang Teaching Museum

A home for contemporary art

At the heart of the Tang Museum is an ambitious exhibition program of approximately twelve exhibitions each year. The Tang originates nearly all of its exhibitions and regularly involves faculty and students as curators and advisors for its signature interdisciplinary exhibitions. These large-scale projects combine diverse objects such as antique maps, scientific equipment, Rube Goldberg cartoons, Hudson River School landscapes, and Shaker furniture with new works of international contemporary art.

Tang exhibitions probe the boundaries of conventional curatorial practice, frequently crossing time-periods and disciplines, and encompassing all types of media and objects to explore intersections between the visual and performing arts, natural sciences, and humanities in new and inventive ways. The Tang also originates significant survey exhibitions of contemporary art, featuring major emerging and established artists. The Opener Series features artists who come to campus as part of their collaboration and often involve realizing new work.

About Frances Young Tang

Frances Young Tang, a 1961 graduate of Skidmore College, majored in textile design and went on to run a company that restored historical buildings in New York City. She and her husband, the financier Oscar Tang, had four children and were philanthropists, whose generosity included a 1989 gift to Skidmore’s Chinese Studies Department.

Frances died at age 53 in 1992, the same year her youngest daughter graduated from Skidmore. In 1996, the Tang family made a major gift toward the museum. “My late wife was a very creative person, and it was at Skidmore that she was able to further develop those skills,” Oscar Tang said. “It is my hope that the new museum-gallery will enhance creativity and visual learning of students in all the disciplines.”

The Tang’s architecture

The Tang Museum was designed by renowned architect Antoine Predock, winner of the 2006 American Institute of Architects Gold Medal. Its plan directly reflects the teaching mission of the museum and the interdisciplinary tradition at Skidmore College. Embracing its surroundings, appearing as if to break out of the earth, the Tang building’s three main wings and two dramatic walkways are designed to reach out in all directions — toward Scribner Library, the sports and dance center, the academic buildings, the residence halls. It serves as a symbol of Skidmore’s commitment to interdisciplinary study and reflects the many intersections of the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences.

The interior of the building includes two major gallery wings, the Wachenheim Gallery and the Malloy Wing, and two smaller galleries, the State Farm Mezzanine and the Winter Gallery. Even the museum's elevator serves as an exhibition space, with an ongoing series of sound and installation art called Elevator Music. Two multimedia-equipped classrooms situated in the Tang are used by Skidmore classes from a range of disciplines. The Payne Presentation Room, a multipurpose event space, serves as a venue for receptions, readings, musical events, film screenings, family activities on weekends, and other Tang and Skidmore events.

English Professor Terry Diggory:
Relating the 'Allegory of the Cave' to the Museum

Scribner Seminar: Human Dilemmas
Professor Terry Diggory

“The art on exhibit is like the images projected on the walls of the cave; getting to the roof is like leaving the cave and coming into reality.”

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Professor Terry Diggory’s class exercise for his first-year seminar asked students to consider parallels between the “allegory of the cave” in Plato’s Republic and students’ movement through the architecture of the Tang. Students began the exercise by exploring and discussing the exhibitions on view in the museum. Then they traveled up the elevator to the roof of the Tang where they looked out over the Skidmore campus. From this vantage point, they joined in a class discussion that investigated connections between the journey of the soul in Plato’s cave and the students’ journey through the museum.

“In Book VII of the Republic, Plato describes a journey out of a dark cave into the sunlit upper world as a metaphor for his view of the soul’s discovery of reality. Because reality for Plato was an idea rather than something perceived by the senses, he assigns the realm of the senses to the cave, where ‘prisoners’ are confined to viewing images projected on a wall. Those images become the connection to the images displayed on museum walls, in this ‘Human Dilemmas’ exercise. But the exercise goes on to explore the different attitudes toward images in our day as compared to Plato’s day, and ultimately exposes different definitions of reality.”
— Terry Diggory

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The Tang's Website

The Tang Teaching Museum's new website launched as part of the museum's fifteenth anniversary celebration on October 17, 2015. The website is designed and developed by New York City-based graphic design studio Linked by Air (www.linkedbyair.net). The studio specializes in the production of public spaces and other networked structures, both online and in the world. The site is an application of the highly agile and fun-to-use content management system, Economy, based on the open-source framework Ruby on Rails.

One of the most distinctive features created by Linked by Air for the Tang's new website is the background pattern, which changes in real time based on three factors:

  • On-campus page views (circles)

  • Off-campus page views (bars)

  • Current wind speed in Saratoga Springs (triangles)

Just after midnight, these numbers reset to zero. You can find the current data by clicking on the information icon (a lowercase "i") on the bottom of any page on the website.

i
Pattern as of Jan 23, 1:58:30 pm
on-campus page views today: 96
off-campus page views today: 1799
current wind in Saratoga Springs: 9.67 mph, NE
Website design: Linked by Air