The Tufts University Art Gallery was founded in 1952 as Gallery
Eleven, occupying a 27 x 34 foot room in the basement of the Cohen
Arts Center. Gallery Eleven was considered to be an experimental
"laboratory" space at the University at the time. In addition to
presenting student and faculty work, Gallery Eleven played a major
role in the life of the joint program between Tufts and the School
of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. From the mid-1970s onwards,
Gallery Eleven presented all final thesis exhibitions of Master of
Fine Arts candidates from the inception of that program, as solo or
two-person shows. For most students, this was their first
professional gallery experience.
In the mid-1970s, the Gallery's first professional curator, Nancy
Doll, developed a broader program of exhibitions featuring regional
and nationally known artists. In particular, the exhibitions of
Somerville and Medford artists served an important community
function, because although the towns housed many artists' studios,
there had been no formal exhibition opportunities for them at Tufts
before. For seven summers in the 2000s, the Gallery again
spotlighted the work of 5-10 artists from Tufts' host communities in
the form of annual juried exhibitions each year.
In the mid-1980s, the Gallery hired its second professional curator,
Erika Ketelhohn. She expanded the range of exhibitions, focusing on
political issues such as Apartheid and women artists. Exhibitions of
emerging regional artists continued in the tradition of the Gallery,
as well as displays of works from the University's permanent art
From its founding, Gallery Eleven also mounted special exhibits in
conjunction with the teaching programs and research interests of
members of the Art History department. Although this led to
exhibitions such as a recreation of Alfred Stieglitz's "291"
gallery, the size of the space was limiting and many exhibitions
were forced off-campus, often shown at either Harvard University or
Northeastern University's exhibition spaces.
The Shirley and Alex Aidekman Arts Center opened in 1991 and was
designed by CBT Architects (Boston, MA). Elizabeth Wylie was
chosen to be the first director in the greatly expanded gallery
spaces within the Arts Center, adjacent to what was then renamed
Cohen Auditorium. Gallery Eleven then ceased to exist. The first
exhibition in the new Arts Center was Modernism: American Prints
of the 1930s and 1940s. Wylie left in 1995 and Joanna Soltan served
as Interim Gallery Director until Susan Masuoka, an
anthropologist, was selected to become Gallery Director in 1996.
Masuoka stepped down in late 2002 and Amy Ingrid Schlegel was
appointed Director of Galleries and Collections from 2004-2016.