Treasure House of North America: The Alfred Ceramic Art Museum at Alfred University

Alfred Ceramic Art Museum

Treasure House of North America : The Alfred Ceramic Art Museum at Alfred University


Wayne Higby

Director and Chief Curator of the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum

Wayne Higby is a ceramic artist and a former member of the IAC Council. His works are held in the permanent collections of numerous art museums  around the world. He teaches at the New York State College of Ceramics in Alfred University and in China. Wayne Higby is a published authority on ceramic art. 


The Alfred Ceramic Art Museum at Alfred University houses nearly 8,000 ceramic objects ranging from small pottery shards recovered from ancient civilizations to modern and contemporary ceramic art. The primary mission of Alfred Ceramic Art Museum is to collect, preserve, conserve, research, interpret and exhibit ceramic art for aesthetic and educational purposes. The museum is a research and teaching facility, which offers an engagement in cultural history via ceramic art to the student, artist, scholar and collector as well as the local, national and international community.

 Alfred University’s well-known, multi-media art school is unique in owing its origins to ceramic art. The Alfred Ceramic Art Museum acknowledges this fact by celebrating all the visual arts within various aspects of its exhibition cycle, while concentrating its collection policy on ceramic art.

In 1900, Charles Fergus Binns was appointed as the founding director of the New York State College of Clay Working and Ceramics at Alfred University, thus the study of ceramic art and science was established as an educational focus at the University and has remained so for over a century. Binns’ teaching formed the foundation for the evolution of American ceramic art.

Alfred Ceramic Art Museum


Alfred University campus – winter



Professor Matt Kelleher and students

John Uttgard

A Brief History of the Museum:

 As early as 1903, Charles Fergus Binns began planning an Alfred University pottery collection and he did put together a “museum” or study collection in a space in the original ceramics building. Nearly ninety years later, in 1991, the University Board of Trustees formally established the Museum of Ceramic Art at Alfred with art historian Margaret Carney as director (1/1991- 5/2002).

Later in the 1990’s its name was changed to the International Museum of Ceramic Art and in 1999 with the generous support of University trustee Pam Joseph and her late husband Jay Schein the museum became known as: The Schein-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Art at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. From May 2002 until May 2014 when a new director was appointed the Curator of Collections, Susan Kowalczyk, managed all aspects of the museum project.




Lee Somers

In the late spring of 2014 construction began on a building, designed by Kallmann, McKinnell and Wood of Boston, to house the ceramic art museum and, as a result, a completely new era for ceramic art at Alfred was initiated. Renamed Alfred Ceramic Art Museum by the Board of Trustees in February 2015 this new state of the art facility is the gift of visionary patron of the arts Marlin Miller (Dr. Marlin Miller, Jr. Alfred University alumnus ’54, HD ’89). The Alfred Ceramic Art Museum at Alfred University is now established as a new initiative under the directorial leadership of ceramic artist and educator Wayne Higby. The museum features an expanded educational mission as well as a commitment to enrich the artistic and scholarly dimensions of ceramic art while celebrating the visual arts in their entirety.

The outstanding collection of graduate thesis work created by Alfred educated ceramic artists is unique in the world. It forms an important part of the collection and provides an especially significant view into the progressive development of American, contemporary ceramic art.


Philip Maybury


Cristina Cordova

In addition, the permanent collection has grown to include works by international ceramic artists such as Rosanjin, Hamada, Leach, Cardew and Rie as well as Chinese funerary jars, tomb sculpture from the Neolithic period, Roman and Byzantine lamps, Nigerian market pottery and the Krevolin Collection of Pottery of the Ancient Americas.

The museum collection also features the work of numerous American ceramic art masters including the Alfred art school’s renowned ceramic art faculty as well as – Ruth Duckworth, Ken Ferguson, Karen Karnes, Howard Kottler, Harrison MacIntosh, David Shaner, Robert Turner, Ken Price, Peter Voulkos, Beatrice Wood, Betty Woodman and Eva Zeisel to name just a few.

This presentation features images of the Alfred, New York, USA rural landscape as well as the Alfred University campus, the famous Alfred kiln room, the Museum building designed by Kallmann, McKinnell and Wood architects and an overview of a few highlights of the collection including ancient and contemporary works of ceramic art.

Peter Voulkos

Alfred Ceramic Art Museum

The Museum is located on the northeast corner of Main and Pine Streets on the Alfred University campus. More information is available on line at Museum membership information is available online, or by contacting Alfred Ceramic Art Museum, Membership Office, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, New York 14802.



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