$1.5 million gift endows faculty chair to support study of African art at IU Bloomington

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington has announced a $1.5 million gift from an anonymous donor to establish the Tanner-Operman Chair, in Honor of Roy Sieber, within the Department of Art History.

African headdressView print quality image
Roy Sieber, whom the chair honors, served as curator of African art for the Eskenazi Museum of Art during his more than 30-year tenure at IU Bloomington. Photo courtesy of the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art

Roy Sieber, former university professor and distinguished scholar, was a pioneer and iconic voice in the field of African art, earning the first Ph.D. awarded in its study. During his more than 30-year tenure at Indiana University, he supervised more than 30 Ph.D. students pursuing study in African art history, served as curator of African art for the university's museum -- now the Eskenazi Museum of Art -- and ultimately held the title of Rudy Professor. He also served as associate director for collections and research at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African Art, authored multiple publications and lectured prolifically around the world.

The Tanner-Operman Chair is the first endowed faculty chair within the Department of Art History and will support the continued study of African art at Indiana University.

"This gift represents a transformative moment for our Department of Art History and for the entire College of Arts and Sciences," said Larry Singell, executive dean of the College. "With the establishment of this new chair, Indiana University will vastly enrich and deepen its long-standing dedication to the study of African art, and in doing so, this chair will also serve as a remarkable way to honor the enduring memory and scholarship of Roy Sieber."

The timing of this gift coincides with the $3 billion For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign and will receive a campaign match, effectively doubling its impact.

"We are so grateful to the donor of the chair who had a real vision of how to sustain the study of African art and architecture into the future at Indiana University," said Diane Reilly, associate professor and chair of the Department of Art History at Indiana University Bloomington. "We have some of the best resources in the country for the study of African art, including the African studies program with its expert language instruction, IU Press' long-standing tradition of publishing in the field, and world-class museum collections at the Eskenazi Museum of Art and Mathers Museum. With the Tanner-Operman Chair, the College and Indiana University will take the lead in scholarship in this pivotal field, training curators and future faculty."

For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign is taking place on all IU-administered campuses, including IU Bloomington, IUPUI, IU East, IU Kokomo, IU Northwest, IU South Bend and IU Southeast. The campaign will conclude in June 2020 to coincide with IU's bicentennial celebration. To learn more about the campaign, its impact and how to participate, visit forall.iu.edu.

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