Director’s Letter for Cranbrook Academy of Art
I’d like to be the first to say hello and welcome you to the website, which serves as a portal to the historic and beautiful 319-acre Cranbrook campus. As the first graduate of the Academy to be named Director, I’m both humbled and honored to be leading this fabled institution into the twenty-first century.
For more than 75 years, Cranbrook has been one of the nation’s leading graduate schools of art, architecture, and design. It has been home to some of the world’s most renowned designers and artists. Eero Saarinen, Charles Eames, Daniel Libeskind, Michael and Katherine McCoy, and Jun Kaneko have all taught here, to name only a few. Our students have included Florence Knoll, Harry Bertoia, Jack Lenor Larsen, Nick Cave, Tony Matelli, Niels Diffrient, Lorraine Wild, Andrew Blauvelt, and Hani Rashid. It’s arguable that the work emanating from Cranbrook in the twentieth century changed the way people live, and the way they understand art and design. The New York Times has said that “the effect of Cranbrook and its graduates and faculty on the physical environment of this country has been profound…Cranbrook, surely more than any other institution, has a right to think of itself as synonymous with contemporary American design.”
The Academy is very unique. We don’t have set curricula, required classes, or prerequisites. We don’t have undergraduates. Most graduate schools offer a program that grows out of their undergraduate model. We offer something entirely different: a graduate-only program designed specifically to support individual exploration and mentoring. In addition, the Academy remains, per capita, the highest producer of student Fulbright scholars in the United States. The Academy also continues to be named one of the Fulbright program’s “Top Producing Institutions” by the Institute for International Education.
At Cranbrook, not only do our ten Artists-in-Residence determine how their programs are run, they work individually with students to determine their course of study. That study is always centered on a rigorous studio-based practice of making, informed by intensive and regular critique, and the opportunity to observe and work with leading practitioners in their own studio environments.
The Academy also has a world-class museum devoted exclusively to modern and contemporary art, architecture, and design. Cranbrook Art Museum was established in 1930 and opened in its current Eliel Saarinen-designed building in 1942. In an exciting new addition, the Museum underwent a $22 million restoration and expansion in 2011 and created a state-of-the-art Collections Wing that makes its entire collection visible—and accessible—to students, scholars, and visitors. The Cranbrook Archives and the offices of the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research also are located within the Art Museum.
Visitors to the Museum experience a diverse program of exhibitions and events and a wide array of lectures, performances, and workshops for all ages. We highlight a broad spectrum of artists, architects, and designers from all corners of the globe and are a leading destination for those visiting Detroit who seek adventurous new art. Indeed, the museum is a place for discovery.
I am a staunch supporter of new art and new ideas, and encourage debate, exchange, and collaboration within and beyond the Cranbrook campus. As Director, I look forward to forging a future that builds upon the international reputation and history of innovation that has made Cranbrook one of the world’s leading centers for artistic excellence.
Christopher Scoates, Director
Cranbrook Academy of Art & Art Museum