Julia Risser is new director of American Museum of Asmat Art

Julia Risser is new director of American Museum of Asmat Art

Earlier this year Dr. Julia Risser was appointed director of the American Museum of Asmat Art at the University of St. Thomas.

An art historian whose research interests also include African art and artifacts,  Risser, of Edina, has been a visiting instructor of art history at St. Thomas, Hamline University, the College of Visual Arts, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, the University of Minnesota, Carleton College and Walker Art Center. She also has been a consulting curator on exhibits at St. Thomas, Carleton and Gustavus Adolphus College and serves on the Edina Planning Commission and the Edina Energy and Environmental Commission.

Risser also served as an adviser to the Maine Humanities Council's community outreach project on African art and founded the annual graduate symposium dedicated to African art at the University of Iowa School of Art and Art History.

Risser has a Ph.D. from Iowa (1996), a Master of Arts degree from Indiana University (1990) and a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history from Carleton (1987).

The American Museum of Asmat Art, which since 1995 had been located at the provincial headquarters of the Crosier Fathers and Brothers in Shoreview, Minn., was relocated to St. Thomas' campus in St. Paul, Minn., last summer when the museum's entire collection was donated to the university. The Asmat live in the southwest region of New Guinea.

Dr. Marisa Kelly, dean of the university's College of Arts and Sciences, has called the museum's collection "one of the premier collections of its kind in the United States." Insured for more than a million dollars, it consists of more than 1,500 objects, in addition to publications and multimedia resources, and includes carvings, masks, shields, canoes, drums and other artifacts of Asmat culture.

Long-term plans for the museum include a permanent gallery on the campus, integration of the collection into university art history programs, K-12 educational outreach efforts, and continued collaborative off-campus exhibitions.  The Minneapolis Institute of Arts plans an exhibit of works from the museum's collection, "Time and Tide: Asmat Art of New Guinea," opening in February 2009.

For further information, contact Risser at (651) 962-5512 or visit the American Museum of Asmat Art Web site, www.stthomas.edu/asmat.