MUSA One Year Later: Museum Director Zorali De Feria Reflects on MUSA's Legacy

Walking through la placita de Celis, just a bit farther from Rectoría, past the Monzón sky-blue fountain and next to the Chancellor's house, you will find MUSA, our beautiful campus museum. As I make my way through MUSA’s gardens, I contemplate the beauty of the building and the peaceful atmosphere of its surroundings. Robust green bushes topped with yellow and red flowers welcome you to the main entrance of the museum; a cool breeze and a friendly “¡Bienvenida a MUSA!” from one of MUSA’s employees who greets me at the door. She kindly directs me to the office of Dr. Zorali De Feria, MUSA’s director, who also gives me a warm welcome to the university’s first and only art museum. Everyone working at this space is in celebratory spirits: last Saturday, February 11, marked the first of many anniversaries for this historic place. After 13 long years of developing an idea and struggling to generate the means to make it happen, MUSA finally became a reality.

Ever since MUSA opened its doors one year ago, the public took a liking to the museum and, according to De Feria, their support has been stupendous. Upwards of 800 people showed up to witness its inauguration, undoubtedly a historic moment on campus; to date,  it has received more than 4,000 visits. De Feria takes a moment to describe what she felt at MUSA’s opening night: “It was a prideful moment knowing all the collections exposed at the time were works of art never-before-seen together, patrimony of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez,” she expressed with satisfaction.

MUSA sparkles on the evening of its inauguration, February 11, 2016.

MUSA is home to two permanent collections, one of Marcos Irizarry and the other of works by Agustín Stahl, both of which are considered to be the biggest and most complete art collections of their artists respectively. Some other artists featured in their permanent collections include Lorenzo Homar, Rafael Tufiño, Julio Rosado del Valle, José Alicea, Rafael Rivera Rosa, Carlos Raquel Rivera, Susana Herrero, Antonio Seguí, Nelson Sambolín and Enrique Tábara.

This year, MUSA debuted a new exhibit titled “Nuevas Adquisiciones” which added works by Puerto Rican and Mexican artists to the permanent collection of over 1,500 works of art. These masterpieces were acquired by selected donations made throughout the year to enrich and diversify MUSA’s variety of tastes for art. “Nuevas Adquisiciones” reaches out to the public by exposing topics such as social and political criticism, and providing different areas, including architecture, abstraction, portraits, and gender scenes while giving a space to the artists who have contributed to MUSA’s success.

A section of a self-portrait by Luisa Géigel Brunet. Via El Vocero.

The commemoration of MUSA’s first year comes to be celebrated as only a museum knows how, by having a grand opening of an exhibit by Puerto Rican artist Luisa Géigel Brunet, titled “Luisa Géigel Brunet (1916-2016): Una Artista Completa.” This exhibit covers 40 to 50 years of the artistic life of the multi-faceted Géigel, who was a professor at the University of Puerto Rico- Río Piedras, as documented by researchers Carmen Teresa Ruiz de Fischler and Yamila Azize. This exhibit, which will be featured in 3 rooms, will open its doors free of charge to the public Saturday, February 25th from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Upholding their commitment to highlighting the legacy of celebrated Puerto Rican artists, MUSA is set to open an exhibit this year which will showcase Mayagüez native and legendary artist Marcos Irizarry.

MUSA is an inclusive interdisciplinary museum, having students from all faculties working to preserve its works of art and helping to run the administrative processes needed to keep the museum going. The museum offers outreach opportunities, like a volunteer program which permits the outside community to take part in the experience of working at the museum. Every contribution is valid and has been of great help in the advancement of the museum’s success.

De Feria at MUSA's gardens in September 2015, before the museum opened. Photograph by Stephanie Placeres.

Looking back at this first year, De Feria seems more than satisfied with her accomplishments.  “Working towards a goal is key to being able to accomplish everything we have proposed,” she explains. “If I were to plan everything based on how much money it would cost, nothing would get done; by focusing only on the goal, we eliminate all other limitations and we are able to get things done.” She is more than grateful for the administration’s support and wishes to continue receiving it in the future.

As Colegiales and mayagüezanos we must take pride in the efforts put forth by MUSA’s personnel and do our part as members of the community to safeguard our patrimony and contribute to elevate it to its full potential. We encourage the student body to visit MUSA, look at the beauty around you and fall in love with the art presented there. No matter your taste in art, MUSA sure has something for everybody.

Contact MUSA:

Tel: 787-832-4040  (ext. 5775)

Contact Dr. De Feria:

[email protected]