Tufts and SMFA look to address lack of art studio space on Medford/Somerville campus

Students work on their art projects in Lane Hall art studio on March 9. Seohyun Shim / The Tufts Daily

Amid complaints from students and faculty about a lack of art studio space on the Medford/Somerville campus, Tufts and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) have stated their commitment to create new art studios on campus in the near future, according to SMFA Dean Nancy Bauer.

Freshman dual degree student Rachel Yao said the current art facilities housed in Lane Hall are inadequate.

“It’s really cramped, and there’s not enough space on the walls to display your art work because other classes are using the space,” she said.

Yao added that the studios in Lane do not have enough resources for woodworking, ceramics and other specific disciplines.

She explained that the lack of studio space on the Medford/Somerville campus creates problems because it means art students have to take the shuttle to SMFA to find enough space to do their work. She added that going to SMFA can take up to an hour each way during a busy commute.

According to Dean of SMFA Nancy Bauer in a March 3 Daily article, improvements and expansions of the shuttle service are on the horizon, in response to student demand.

Yao noted that the frequent trips to the SMFA campus in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston are not as much of a problem for her as for other students because she already needs to go to the SMFA  campus to take a drawing-intensive art class.

Bauer said that administrators recognize that Lane is in need of improvements and that Tufts is currently looking into enhancing the building’s art facilities.

“Everyone understands that Lane Hall in and of itself is not a fantastic studio space,” she said. “[But] we’re invested in making sure we have better facilities there.”

Lois Stanley, director of campus planning, said she has not received any budget requests to add on to Lane or to improve the art facilities housed there.

Bauer, who also serves as a dean of academic affairs for the School of Arts and Sciences, explained that there is no current budgetary proposal to fix Lane because all relevant members of the administration have not yet decided how they want to parcel out space on the Medford/Somerville campus.

Bauer added that issues regarding space are especially complicated this year because of the new Science and Engineering Complex (SEC), which is expected to be done by the end of the year.

“Because the Science and Engineering Complex is going live by the end of this year, there’s going to be some movement into that building and out of other spaces on the campus,” she said. “So that creates a kind of musical chairs situation where we decided to move some people from here to there.”

Bauer compared the ongoing process of finding space for art students post-SEC completion with the process that occurred during the construction of the Collaborative Learning and Innovation Complex at 574 Boston Ave.

“The same exact process happened when we processed 574 Boston Ave.,” she said. “There are all of these musical chairs in a long period that they call interim planning.”

Although Bauer said that she is unable to put a time stamp on when the future space arrangements for arts students will be available, she said that more studio space will be added in the near future.

“I’m very confident that we will have better studio space in the relatively near future, but the actual plans are honestly not there yet,” she said. “I do know there’s strong commitment on the Medford campus to find a better place for studio artists and that we are going to be doing a lot more collaboration with the SMFA on the Medford campus as well.”


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