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Notre Dame’s Snite Museum Of Art Reopens, Features Special Exhibition By Kevin Beasley


Photo courtesy of the Snite Museum of Art.

After being closed to the public since March 2020due to the pandemic, the University of Notre Dame’s Snite Museum of Art reopened on June 1. Museum director Joseph Becherer said they had several dozen visitors on the first day.

“There’s nothing like being with a work of art — standing in front of a painting, walking around a sculpture,” he said. “It’s really wonderful to see people in the galleries.”

And as part of that reopening, the museum is hosting a special exhibition of New York City based artist Kevin Beasley’s 2016 sculpture Chair of the Ministers of Defense.

The immersive installation focuses on Black liberation movements and the ongoing imbalances of power experienced by Black Americans and marginalized men and women of color. 

“The subject matter is really quite pressing,” Becherer said. “It makes some compelling arguments — what is power? How do people maintain power? How do people lose power?”

The installation is nearly 13 feet tall and takes up a whole room. The centerpiece is a large rattan peacock chair surrounded by figures — it’s a mix between the Chair of Saint Peter in Rome and a famous photograph of Black Panther Party leader Huey P. Newton.

“You’re combining something from the Baroque period with something from the 20th century,” Becherer said. “But then when you really start to look at these figures, you realise they’re made with house dresses, do-rags, t-shirts and jeans — all of these pieces of cloth that are symbolic of urban life that he dipped in resin and formed into shape.”

There are also references to traditional African culture such as Maasai and Zulu warrior shields.

Beasley is known for his work in sculpture, performance art and sound installation art. His work has been exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum and the Studio Museum in Harlem.

The Chair of the Ministers of Defense is on loan from the Joyner/Giuffrida Collection and the Rennie Collection and will be exhibited at the Snite Museum until December 23, 2021.

The museum’s permanent collection includes nearly 30,000 works. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Admission is free, and visitors are required to wear masks and remain socially distanced.

The Snite Museum is an underwriter of WVPE.

Contact Jakob at or follow him on Twitter at @JakobLazzaro.

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