Barrett Art Gallery remains closed due to lack of funding


Photograph of the Barrett Art Gallery, closed from a lack of funding, in Utica, NY.

Jama Joseph, Contributing Writer

The Edith Barrett Fine Arts Gallery has not reopened since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The gallery was converted into office space and despite many hoping to see its return, Utica University’s post-COVID budget does not prioritize hiring an art director.

In addition to the absence of funding in 2020, there was an unsuccessful search for an art director representing the visual arts at Utica University. Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences Jason Denman explained that currently there is no new search for a gallery director. 

“The cancellation of that search in 2020 was a terrible blow to the gallery as an entity and art instruction on campus,” Denman said. “Obviously, the whole campus was in a state of emergency, and I understand the financial chaos COVID put us in initially.  That said, not hiring someone was very upsetting to many.” 

The gallery first opened its doors in 1980. It was the place to display exhibitions showcasing the works of various artists. Drawing and painting classes are still offered at Utica University. However, the university relies on part-time adjuncts. 

“The scene painting that happens in the theater program under Laura Salvaggio would be a bright spot,” Denman said. “Theater is our strong suit in the arts; the visual arts have struggled for quite a long time.”

The faculty has not entirely given up on the search for that position. A group of faculty and administrators applied for a grant that would’ve funded a gallery position, and the grant application was unsuccessful.