News: The Tri Dharma of ITB's Soemardja Gallery

The following is a research brief outlining the evolving roles of the Soemardja Gallery, Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB) first posted in the ITB website in April 2011. Positioning its directions in relation to its own history (formed to complement formal art education in ITB) and an emerging discourse of the "university gallery", the research team consolidates its function in relation to the (Tri Dharma) "tenets of high education, which are: education and teaching, research and development, and service to the community." Original posting here.

Gallery Soemardja by J. Ariadhitya Pramuhendra

Soemardja Gallery Revitalization: A Gallery That Supports The Development of Creative Industry in Arts
HEAD OF RESEARCH TEAM: Aminudin Tua Hamonangan Siregar
TEAM MEMBERS: Dr.Nuning Damayanti, Deden H.Durahman, M.Sch, Herra Pahlasari Saefullah, S.Sn

 The general meaning of ‘gallery’ is a space to place and exhibit, what is named as ‘works of art’, in its various mediums, for example paintings, sculptures, graphics to video art and all other sorts to the public in an art exhibition program. During its history, there have been many changes to the form of the gallery, which differ by type. From this perspective, there are a number of galleries that differ in function and purpose.

Among these types, there is what is usually called the university gallery. The Soemardja Gallery currently the oldest still-operating university gallery in Indonesia. This gallery was opened by the late Prof. Dr. Nugroho Notosusanto, the Minister of Education and Culture of the Development Cabinet IV around 1983. From findings based on various verbal sources, the idea for the gallery had been conceived since two decades before, with the name Alit Gallery. The name ‘Soemardja’ was given to commemorate one of the distinguished fathers of formal art education in Indonesia, Sjafe’i Soemardja. And since then, the gallery has gone through its proverbial ups and downs, affecting management and programs.

As a university gallery, initially the Soemardja gallery emphasized itself on the role which accommodated the various internal programs of the ITB’s art community. This role remains dominant, although lately Soemardja Gallery has opened its arms wide to the world outside the campus grounds. These two roles, internal and external, have become a unique characteristic that the Soemardja Gallery implements in its programs.
Soemardja Gallery’s place, in the midst of the dynamics of the art education world, has certainly given it a strategic position. It is not only within the developments of art itself, but it is also persuaded to take an active role in various aspects that cannot be separated from the three tenets (Tri Dharma) of high education, which are: education and teaching, research and development, and service to the community. In its way, the Soemardja Gallery cannot be separated from the Tri Dharma.

Considering its relatively old age, the Soemardja Gallery must reflect upon itself as the only reference for a university gallery in Indonesia. Therefore, the gallery must elevate its role locally and regionally.
This research paper centers on how to define an effective strategy on resharpening Soemardja Gallery’s role as one of the barometers for university galleries actively taking part in developing art as part of the creative industry. The object of research: Soemardja Gallery.
This descriptive research will discuss research results based on fieldwork. Data gathering, primary and secondary, will be done by observation to several places, specifically galleries or art institutions that may become points of reference for Soemardja Gallery’s management. Other data gathering will be done through documentation.

Considering the rarity of university galleries in Indonesia, it can be said that the Soemardja Gallery must discover, define and develop a managerial model suited to its context. This development must also be refocused to remain significant in the everlasting changes in contemporary art, whether it be local or on a global stage.


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