Lindemann, Dr. Edna M.
Remembering Edna M. Lindemann, Director Emeritus of the Burchfield-Penney Art Center
Edna Meibohm Lindemann will always be remembered and admired for her creation and development of the Charles Burchfield Centerin Rockwell Hall at (then-named) Buffalo State University College. Forty years ago, fueled by her vision and perseverance, Dr. Lindemann worked with college President Dr. Paul G. Bulger and other founders to inaugurate a unique museum on December 9, 1966 dedicated to the nationally recognized artist, Charles Ephraim Burchfield. The Center was originally conceived to exhibit, study and collect Burchfield’s art and archives and Lindemann, who was assistant professor of art education and director of development and cultural affairs for the college, was appointed curator. Housed in what had originally been the campus library, the Charles Burchfield Center joined theAlbright-Knox Art Galleryand Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society to become part of the triumvirate that President Bulger called “the Acropolis on the Scajaquada.”
Tragically, Burchfield passed away a month after the art center opened. While Burchfield exhibitions were presented for the next few years, Lindemann also wanted the Center to become more inclusive, so she began to exhibit and collect work by other Western New York artists. By October 1970, the museum adopted the subtitle, “Western New York Forum for American Art.” The result was a multi-disciplinary focus concentrating on the visual arts, but also embracing literary and performing arts. Lindemann thus advanced the area’s historic heritage as well as its contemporary artistic evolution from a perspective that would serve the campus, the eight-countyWestern New Yorkcommunity, and ultimately the nation. In 1972, she was given the title of director/curator and in 1974 became director.
Lindemann earned a Bachelor of Science degree in art education, with distinction, from the University of Buffaloin 1936, while also receiving a diploma from the Albright Art School. She earned a master of arts degree in art, magna cum laude, from Northwestern University in 1939. She studied from 1940 to 1942 at Cranbrook Academy of Art, where she trained in architectural design under Eliel Saarinen, and earned a doctorate in education from Columbia University’s Teachers’ College in 1956. During the 1960s, she helped to design interior and exterior college spaces, preserved architectural fragments and artifacts from landmark Buffalo buildings, and was instrumental in developing the Maud Gordon Holmes Arboretum on campus. Later, as assistant professor of design, she taught exhibition techniques classes.
The idea of the Charles Burchfield Center continued to develop and the institution changed its name to “Burchfield Center” in May 1976. Over the years, more gallery space was opened to accommodate a growing collection and a variety of exhibitions about Burchfield, his contemporaries, Rehn Gallery colleagues, and Western New York artists. In 1984, the Burchfield Center was renamed the Burchfield Art Centerand moved into temporary quarters while Rockwell Hall was renovated and the Center was expanded. Lindemann officially retired a year later in September 1985, but she stayed fundamentally involved by providing invaluable advice about Burchfield and the museum profession. She curated the important touring exhibition, The Art Triangle: Artist, Dealer, Collector, which was presented in Utica and Buffalo in 1989.
Edna M. Lindemann held Charles E. Burchfield in the highest esteem and proudly established a museum in his name. Anonymously she donated many important artworks and contributed funds for numerous initiatives. She also remained extremely loyal to Buffalo State College. Her devotion and years of service inspired respect which resulted in many awards. In 1976 the staff and management of Focus Magazine of The Buffalo-Courier Express selected her to be the winner of their Focus Award for contributing to “the cultural and entertainment life of the Niagara Frontier.” She was a founding member of the Gallery Association of New York State (GANYS) and the Associated Art Organizations (AAO) of Buffalo. The Buffalo Society of Artists recognized her as “Outstanding Patron of the Arts in 1978. The American Association of University Women presented her with an achievement award in 1983. In 1985, The Buffalo News named her “Citizen of the Year.” Her achievements were recognized in 2002 with the President’s Distinguished Service Award presented by Dr. Muriel Howard. In 2004 she was nominated for the ARLIS Distinguished Service Award by the Western New York chapter of the Art Libraries Society of North America to acknowledge how tirelessly she sought archival collections to enhance scholarship and widespread public understanding of Charles E. Burchfield. In 2006, the Arts Council in Buffalo & Erie County and the Buffalo Niagara Partnership presented her with the Knox Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Thanks to Dr. Lindemann’s vision and generosity, future scholarship will be possible, thanks to her establishment of the Edna M. Lindemann Fellowship Residence Endowment Fund at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Buffalo State College. Eligible candidates will be entitled to study in the Charles E. Burchfield Archives and Library and Edna M. Lindemann Study Center in the new museum, scheduled to open in 2008.
—Nancy Weekly, September 18, 2006