Vance Wall Art Education Center | Montclair Art Museum
(MAM) & Yard School of Art offer American, Native American, & contemporary art exhibitions, programs, & classes in NJ

Montclair Art Museum Launches Vance Wall Art Education Center




New Center embraces MAM's strength in learning and

enhances accessible educational offerings for all ages


Education at the core of MAM Centennial Campaign: Arts and Learning


MONTCLAIR, NJ, October 1, 2015—With a recent gift totaling $5 million from Carol and Terry Wall/The Vance Wall Foundation, the Montclair Art Museum is proud to announce the creation of the Vance Wall Art Education Center at MAM, establishing the footing for enhanced educational outreach and accessible programs for people of all ages. The Center encompasses all the Museum’s educational efforts, from the established Yard School of Art to the new mobile MAM Art Truck, and marks the public phase of the Museum’s endowment campaign, MAM Centennial Campaign: Arts and Learning.


“Since its founding over 100 years ago, MAM has stayed true to its two-fold mission of arts and learning. The Vance Wall Foundation’s gift is an acknowledgment of MAM’s strength in education and has provided a rare opportunity to reach even higher,” said MAM’s director Lora Urbanelli. In the past year, MAM’s education programs served over 95 schools in 54 school districts, 4 institutions of higher learning, and 140 community and business organizations ranging from the Cub Scouts to Hadassah, and senior groups and town arts councils from Sussex to Trenton, Yonkers to Allentown. The new Center will fully refine and deepen these partnerships, meet additional community needs, and explore comprehensive creative programming for every demographic.


“Over 2,000 students of all ages are enrolled in the Museum's Yard School of Art. That extraordinarily high number indicates the resounding enthusiasm for arts education in the Montclair area and was the impetus for the creation of the Vance Wall Arts Education Center,” said Carol Wall. “My dream is the Center will expand and unify our program to provide an even richer and more comprehensive arts education for everyone from toddlers to seniors.” The new Center will seek academic excellence and outfit the Museum as a teaching laboratory for higher education, make the MAM family experience an engaging and easy habit any day of the week, establish a center for lifelong learning in the arts for active adults and seniors, and target teens as an essential age group for the future of museums. Its resulting programs will become national models for arts education. Heading this initiative will be the recently named first Director of the Vance Wall Art Education Center, Leah Fox.


In the months ahead, the construction of the Vance Wall Art Education Center will begin, providing a new Museum Education entry with offices and studio space for art activities. The design by Montclair architect John Reimnitz highlights education, putting it on a par with MAM’s renowned exhibitions. Upon entering the Museum at the existing side entry, there will be a clear visual distinction between the left side entrance to the Museum and the right side entrance to the Center. A new education classroom placed at the entry will open the art-making experience to MAM visitors. The entrance will be named after former Museum president Nathaniel C. Harris, who oversaw the building’s 2001 expansion. Harris took art classes at the Montclair Art Museum as a child and rose to become president of the Museum; a Yard School of Art scholarship program is named in his honor.


Raising the Museum’s educational profile through The Vance Wall Art Education Center is a key component of MAM’s endowment campaign. The Centennial Campaign: Arts and Learning will leverage and interweave the Museum’s two core strengths: arts and education. It aims to raise $15 million to help ensure a vibrant future for the Museum. Nearly $10 million has already been raised as MAM enters the public phase. In addition to The Vance Wall Art Education Center, key objectives include revitalizing displays for Native American materials, strengthening the contemporary art program, creating an outdoor sculpture garden and community gathering spaces, and broadening access for the region’s lively and diverse communities.


“Based on the generosity and leadership of many individuals, MAM is reaching out to an expanding community to open eyes, hearts, and minds to art, and thereby create windows of possibilities,” said Frank Walter, MAM president. “These gifts will help preserve MAM for future generations.”


MAM Appoints Leah Fox as First Director of the Vance Wall Art Education Center



MONTCLAIR, NJ, April 23, 2015—The Montclair Art Museum is pleased to announce that Leah Fox has been appointed MAM’s first director of the Vance Wall Art Education Center. This newly created center—made possible by a generous donation by the Vance Wall Foundation—will enable a strategic and ambitious expansion of MAM’s educational profile in the region.

            A nationally recognized leader in her field, Fox brings 17 years of experience working in art museums, helping to advance education programs and engage new audiences. Most recently, as the director of interpretation and audience engagement at the Currier Museum of Art, in Manchester, New Hampshire, where she worked for 10 years, Fox led the educational staff and 80 docents, overseeing all programs, tours, gallery interpretation, and visitor engagement initiatives. She has published widely, led workshops, and lectured extensively on a range of topics, including best practices for making museums accessible and engaging to diverse audiences. She has also led programs on forming museum/school collaborations and on bringing art and culture to children and adults with sight loss.

            “We’re extremely pleased that the Vance Wall Foundation has given us this opportunity to reimagine how a midsize museum can operate in the future to assure a relevant and meaningful educational role in its communities,” said Lora Urbanelli, director of the Montclair Art Museum. “We have a strong tradition on which to build. Our award-winning art school has been a part of the Museum since 1924, and our education programs have earned widespread respect. But MAM is committed to innovation, and we hope to establish new approaches in teaching and learning that will serve as a model for educational efforts at other similar institutions across the nation. The Museum is already well known for its high quality, groundbreaking exhibitions. We are equally serious about our education programs. Leah’s experience, passion, and leadership role in the educational world of museums will help us attain these ambitions.”    

            “I am excited to collaborate with the diverse communities in Montclair and throughout North Jersey to develop a vision for the Vance Wall Art Education Center that will build upon existing strengths of the Museum and respond to the needs of the community. With an established school tour program, highly regarded studio art courses and education programs for people of all ages and backgrounds, and an outstanding collection, the Museum is deeply committed to supporting art education. I also look forward to working with area schools to ensure that the Museum fosters the skills in students that are essential now and for the future.” 

            Before the Currier, Fox worked in education and audience research capacities at the Museum of Modern Art and at the J. Paul Getty Museum. She received her bachelor’s from Clark University (Worcester, MA) in psychology and art history and her master’s in museum studies from John F. Kennedy University (Berkeley, CA).

            Fox and her family will relocate to Montclair over the summer and officially join the MAM staff in August.


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