New Art Gallery Nearing Completion; Al Miner Appointed Director

Al Miner, director of art galleries, stands in the de la Cruz gallery
Al Miner, Director/Chief Curator of galleries and Associate Professor of Art and Museum Studies, inside the Maria & Alberto de la Cruz Art Gallery as construction nears completion. The gallery will open in late August 2018. (Photo: Kuna Malik Hamad/Georgetown College)

May 29, 2018 — Georgetown University announced today that despite construction delays, a major new campus art gallery will open in the fall of 2018. Funded by gifts from 37 alumni and supporters, the Maria & Alberto de la Cruz Art Gallery will present world-class art exhibitions and engagement programs to members of the campus community, the Georgetown neighborhood, and the city of Washington, D.C.

“Our family has been very involved in the art world for many years, and it is important to us that other people, especially the young, are exposed to and learn about art,” said lead donors Maria (C’87, P’17, P’22) and Alberto de la Cruz (B’89, P’17, P’22) in a joint statement. “What better way to do this than by providing a space targeted for this purpose that is welcoming, enjoyable, and enhances the experience of relating to art?”

The gallery’s soaring glass vestibule entrance is located at the intersection of 36th and Prospect Streets NW in the historic Georgetown neighborhood. The nearly 4,000-square-foot gallery will primarily focus on global contemporary artists, but aims to incorporate historical works in future exhibitions.

Audiences got a sneak peek at the space when acclaimed Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu lectured at the gallery last November. The first event in an innovative performance art and public engagement series — Rob Pruitt’s Flea Market — will officially kick off gallery activities on August 29th and 30th. The gallery’s annual cycle of special exhibitions will begin when Jeffrey Gibson: DON’T MAKE ME OVER opens on September 27th, featuring new paintings and installation by the acclaimed Native American artist.

UNIVERSITY LOOKS TO GRAND OPENING

Christopher S. Celenza, Dean of Georgetown College, sees the gallery as a unique opportunity to bring members of the campus community together in appreciation of the arts.

“The Maria & Alberto de la Cruz Art Gallery will be transformational for the campus and greater community, and will establish new, creative connections across the many branches of this diverse, world-class university,” Celenza said.

The project was the culmination of years of work spanning multiple administrations. Professor Chester Gillis, who preceded Celenza as Dean of the College, recognized the potential for a new gallery and championed the project from its earliest stages through the groundbreaking last spring.

Al Acres, chair of the Department of Art and Art History, notes that the new Maria & Alberto de la Cruz Art Gallery and the newly renovated Lucille M. and Richard F.X. Spagnuolo Gallery realize long-held ambitions for an expanded presence for the visual arts on the Hilltop.

“More than ever, great research universities are recognizing that the creative arts are inseparable from academic networks of inquiry and discovery at the highest levels,” Acres said. “These will be spaces from which art looks and reaches outward — across curricula and disciplines, across our campus and city, and far beyond.”

In addition to maintaining the galleries, Georgetown University’s Department of Art and Art History offers undergraduate programs in studio art and art history, as well as a master’s degree program in art and museum studies.

NEW DIRECTOR APPOINTED

The university appointed curator of contemporary art Al Miner to be director/chief curator of galleries in 2017. Miner’s responsibilities include overseeing the completion of the new gallery, guiding the recent renovation of the Spagnuolo Gallery, directing strategy and policy for both gallery spaces, and serving as an associate professor in the Department of Art and Art History’s M.A. program in art and museum studies.

“We’re delighted to have Al Miner at the helm to usher in a new era of Georgetown University’s history,” Celenza said. “His proven track record of award-winning, timely, and immersive exhibitions at top museums — combined with a tested knowledge of best practices and a unique creative vision — make him the ideal candidate to serve as the gallery’s founding director and chief curator.”

Miner came to Georgetown after seven years as a curator of contemporary art at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston, where he curated Ori Gersht: History Repeating, and the award-winning Megacities Asia, the largest contemporary exhibition mounted by the MFA to date. Prior to joining MFA, he spent five years in the curatorial division of the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. He has received fellowships and grants from organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Association of Art Museum Curators and the American Alliance of Museums.

“I am honored and excited to be at Georgetown during this unprecedented moment of growth for the visual arts,” said Miner. “I look forward to establishing a program that will enhance the lives of those on campus, in the surrounding neighborhood, and within Washington, D.C.’s already vibrant arts scene. Working in collaboration with key partners across the university, we will place great art and artists at the center of critical dialogues and create opportunities for diverse audiences to not only look at art, but to have meaningful and memorable experiences.” 

ABOUT GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY

Established in 1789, Georgetown is the nation’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit university. Drawing upon this legacy, we provide students with a world-class learning experience focused on educating the whole person through exposure to different faiths, cultures, and beliefs. With our Jesuit values and location in Washington, D.C., Georgetown offers students a distinct opportunity to learn, experience, and understand more about the world.

ABOUT MARIA AND ALBERTO DE LA CRUZ

Maria and Alberto E. de la Cruz are both graduates of Georgetown University. Alberto has been the president and chief executive officer of Coca-Cola Puerto Rico Bottlers (CCPRB) since 1985, president of Coca-Cola Bottling of Trinidad, and an owner of other businesses. For 24 years, Maria has owned and served as president of Jacadi, a French children’s retail chain in the South Florida area. She also owned and operated the Don Algodón and Furla franchises for Puerto Rico in the 1990s and 2000s, and in 2011 started her own jewelry collection, Mari Mari Jewelry. Together they have three children: Alberto G., Ileana (C’17), and Alvaro (C’22).