Recently I’ve covered a few stories related to exhibitions on technical ceramics (e.g., here and here), but these have been about exhibits that are part of much larger ceramic and glass art museums. But, today’s story is about a museum fully dedicated to the science and engineering aspects of ceramics.
Alfred University representatives have announced that they will be holding an official dedication ceremony May 10 for the Inamori Kyocera Museum of Fine Ceramics, in Alfred, N.Y., that will serve as the main showcase for ceramic research and technologies.
(First, some semantics housekeeping: Some international ceramists, especially the Japanese, use the term “Fine Ceramics” as interchangeable with “High Tech Ceramics.” Obviously, this gets confusing because many North American and Europeans also use the term “Fine China” to refer to a high quality of ceramic dinnerware. But, the “Fine Ceramics” reference in the museum’s title is made in deference to the namesake, Kazuo Inamori, founder and chairman emeritus of Kyocera Corp. — one of the world’s largest manufacturers of high-tech ceramics — and a long-time supporter of Alfred’s programs.)
The dedication ceremony will be at 12:30 p.m. on May 10, in Binns-Merrill Hall on the AU campus. The event is open to the public, and Inamori, himself, will be on hand for the dedication.
In an AU news release, the university’s president, Charles M. Edmondson, says the school is very honored to have Inamori at the event. “Dr. Inamori has been a valued friend to the University and in particular to our School of Engineering, so we are delighted he will be here as we dedicate this museum in his honor,” notes Edmondson.
Edmonson goes on to say that the museum “will play an important role in educating young people about the vital role of ceramics in the future economy — in areas ranging from information technology to medical devices, diagnostic systems, industrial equipment, renewable energy and environmental preservation.”
On the morning of the dedication, AU is holding a special symposium, “Ceramics: Past, Present and Future,” organized in Inamori’s honor. The symposium will start at 9 a.m. on May 10 in the Nevins Theater located in the Powell Campus Center, and is open to the public, free of charge. (If you are planning to attend, AU asks that you email Marlene Wightman, director of continuing education, at Wightman@alfred.edu or to call her at 607-871-2425.
Inamori is expected to speak as part of the symposium. He will be joined by ACerS President Marina Pascucci, a 1977 AU alumna and president of CeraNova in Marlborough, Mass.; Terry Michalske (’75), director of the Savannah River National Lab; and Gary Messing (’73), head of the materials science and engineering department at Pennsylvania State University. Also among the speakers is Linda Jones, associate vice president and head of the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, who is an ACerS Fellow and a member of its board of directors.
The museum will offer information on ceramic materials and applications, including historical developments, technical breakthroughs and examples of how ceramics have become ubiquitous as enabling technology in everything from electronics to more specialized applications like fuel cells, solar panels and biomedical implants.
AU is also opening the Discovery Lab next to the Inamori Museum. School officials say the lab will be AU’s center for outreach activities involving students (and their teachers) from kindergarten through 12th grade. University faculty members are developing educational programming, including demonstrations and hand-on activities.
Doreen Edwards, dean of the school of engineering, says she anticipates visitors will include specialists and scientists. “People who are involved in the manufacture of ceramics and related technologies will find this of interest, but there is also plenty to draw the general public,” she says.
The artistic side of ceramics is not totally left out of the picture. The university notes that its Schein-Joseph Museum of Ceramics has an extensive collection of ceramic art and is located adjacent to the new museum in Binns-Merrill Hall. “This is an absolute reflection of the College of Ceramics that joins both the School of Art & Design and the Inamori School of Engineering,” says AU’s Linda Jones. “From the inception of the College, it was recognized that creativity and technical understanding are essential to address the challenges of our time.”
AU recalls that Inamori’s relationship with Alfred University dates back to the 1980s. The school awarded him an honorary Doctor of Science degree in 1988, recognizing his leadership in the field of advanced ceramic materials. He created Alfred University’s Inamori Scholarships, which assist deserving students studying art or engineering.