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LMFA's new education director on a mission

By Mike Elswick melswick@news-journal.com
March 25, 2012 at 10 p.m.

Bruce Mauldin is on a mission to help one of Longview's main links in the world of art notch things up a bit.

Renee Hawkins, executive director of Longview Museum of Fine Arts, said while the University of Houston art instructor will have a variety of duties on the Longview staff - his tenure over the next couple of years will be focused one goal.

"We hired Dr. Bruce Mauldin, who has a Ph.D in fine arts, to work on the mission of getting LMFA accredited - which will be quite a coup for us," Hawkins said.

While Mauldin is new to the staff of the Longview Museum of Fine Arts, he is familiar with Longview and with the long-running efforts of the museum.

He is a 1977 graduate of Longview High School and has known Hawkins in professional artistic circles for a couple of decades, Mauldin said.

Since arriving on the job about a month ago, he has been doing research and doing the ground work to start the accreditation application process this fall with the American Association of Museums. Mauldin said the process is very intense and detail oriented.

"Once you make an application, you have one year to complete everything - failure is not an option," he said. When the documentation is submitted to the American Association of Museums and reviewed, the organization will send a team to Longview to validate the volumes of paperwork that goes with the process.

"We hope to get on their radar screen by summer or early fall," Mauldin said. But before beginning the official application process and starting the clock on the one year time limit, he said there is lots of work to be done behind the scenes.

"Our library needs to have a true research facility," he said. "We have a library but it's not cataloged. We'll need to enlarge our vault and get our mission and long range plans down."

Developing, or ensuring, volunteer and staff manuals are up to the national association's standards is part of Mauldin's duties in coming weeks.

Having the national accreditation will give the museum stature in the world of art museums and should help the organization in bringing in a wider variety of traveling exhibits from other organizations, he said.

"Before they send exhibits they want to be sure we're regulated, organized, responsible and that we have a secured vault," Mauldin said. "It's quite an undertaking, but all the board, guild and volunteers are fully behind this effort."

Mauldin said the quality of the museum is unusual for a city the size of Longview.

"LMFA is a gem in East Texas - it really is marvelous and is the kind of museum you'd find in Houston or Dallas - it's not a small town museum," he said.

Mauldin is usually at the museum Monday through Wednesday. He teaches an art class at the University of Houston on Thursdays. He plans be back in Longview on any weekends the museum has activities or events.

"Otherwise he'll work from Houston on the accreditation process," Hawkins said. Besides his focus on accreditation, the other half of his job will be organizing educational outreach programs, classes and lectures that will use the ArtWorks facility to further expand the museum's mission.

ArtWorks is the new classroom, studio and lecture facility under construction directly east of the mueum. When completed, it will be connected to the museum and offer a venue for a variety of hands-on training from sculpture and painting to pottery and glass classes, Mauldin said.

Those classes will be for children and adults, he said.

"We're trying to hit the whole spectrum," Mauldin said. "It's a fantastic space and we want to be sure it is put to good use."



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