Press Releases

Exhibition of Miller collection opens at Alfred Ceramic Art Museum

Alfred University | 9/27/19

Marlin Miller talks at the opening reception for Materiality as his wife, Ginger, looks on.
Marlin Miller talks at the opening reception for "Materiality" as his wife, Ginger, looks on.

A collection of works by some of the most renowned ceramic artists of the 20th century is on view at the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum, thanks to the generosity of Alfred University alumnus and trustee Marlin Miller and his wife, Ginger.


ALFRED, NY – A collection of works by some of the most renowned ceramic artists of the 20th century is on view at the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum, thanks to the generosity of Alfred University alumnus and trustee Marlin Miller and his wife, Ginger.

 “Materiality: Masterworks from the Miller Ceramic Art Collection,” an exhibition containing approximately 60 pieces from Marlin and Ginger Miller’s personal collection, opened Thursday, Sept. 26, at the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum. It will remain on view through Dec. 29.

Marlin Miller earned a bachelor’s degree from Alfred University in 1954 and has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 1972, serving as board chair from 1983-89. A successful businessman and noted philanthropist, Marlin is one of the most generous supporters of Alfred University. His gifts have funded construction of the Ceramic Art Museum, as well as the Miller Performing Arts Center and Miller Theater. Alfred University has awarded him two honorary doctorate degrees, in 1989 and 2019.

Wayne Higby, director of the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum, welcomed visitors to Thursday evening’s opening reception. The exhibition officially opens the Museum’s fourth fall season.

“This is an exhibition we’ve been talking about since 2016,” Higby said. “Marlin and Ginger have been such amazing friends to Alfred University, the arts, performing arts. I can’t explain how much they have changed lives.”

“What a way to kick off the museum’s fourth season,” said Alfred University President Mark Zupan, who described the Miller collection as “one of the most significant private collections anywhere around the globe.”

Indeed, the Miller’s collection contains some of the most renowned names in ceramic art, including many affiliated with Alfred University: Higby, H ’11; John Gill ’75 (M.F.A.), professor of ceramic art, and his wife, Andrea ’74 (B.F.A.), professor of ceramic art emerita; Anne Currier, professor of ceramic art emerita; and late professors of ceramic art Robert Turner ’49 (M.F.A.) and Val Cushing ’52 (B.F.A.) In addition, the exhibition contains work by noted Japanese and Chinese ceramic artists.

Miller credited his time at Alfred University – where he met his first wife, the late Marcianne (Mapel) Miller ’55 (B.F.A.) – for his developing an interest in art.

“I wouldn’t have collected any of this if I hadn’t come to Alfred University first,” commented Miller. He said that he didn’t begin collecting art until many years after he graduated from Alfred.

Then, about 50 years ago, on a trip to Cape Cod, “I saw this piece here,” Miller said, gesturing toward a lidded jar by Val Cushing on a nearby pedestal. “That’s where it all began.”

Higby spoke of the significance of the exhibition.

“All these pieces, by all these artists, which you may have seen in books, are now here in this room,” he said. “These are the greatest artists of 20th century American ceramics. It’s a remarkable, remarkable collection.”