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UC Santa Barbara, she faced a very different set of challenges.
Over the years, the museum, which was run by the university's art
department, had become isolated and nearly invisible to the rest
of the campus and surrounding community.
in the art and art history departments knew about the University
Art Museum, but no one else on campus seemed to," Berns says.
This, in spite of the fact that every show was reviewed in the local
and student newspapers. "How could they not know?" In
her quest to make the museum a dynamic part of the campus, Berns
started to create partnerships with other academic departments,
involving herself in faculty groups and meetings.
spent a lot of time talking to people directly. You can't just send
people written materials," she says. "You have to add
that personal touch, talk about who you are and what you're doing."
did more than just talk. Last year, under her watch, a $2.3-million
renovation of the museum's exhibition space was completed. Today,
it benefits from a new entrance, six new galleries and an adjoining
20,000-square-foot plaza. She also curated two nationally touring
exhibitions and recently finished a retrospective exhibition and
monograph on Santa Barbara designer Paul Tuttle, internationally
known for his furniture and architectural designs.
her arrival at UCLA in the fall, the Fowler and its staff are already
embarking on new adventures and new academic and community partnerships.
A major traveling exhibition that was developed jointly by the Fowler
and UC Santa Barbara's University Art Museum has just opened, giving
the public a first-time look at 22 rare embroidered coats originally
worn by fishermen living on Awaji Island in Japan's Inland Sea.
are elaborately quilted kimono-shaped coats," Berns says. "They
give us a very focused look at one local tradition that has been
superceded by modernization. But what they allow us to do is tell
the story of how these rare artifacts were once used by people in
daily life and how important it was for Awaji women to lovingly
make these beautiful coats for their husbands to wear."