Children attending the museum’s free family programs and school fieldtrips are frequent visitors to the Andrea Gottlieb Vizcarrondo 1972 Lakeview Gallery at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art.

Museum’s lakeview gallery honors Andrea Gottlieb Vizcarrondo ’72

The lakeview gallery is an iconic space on the Cornell campus, located high above Cayuga’s waters on the 5th floor of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. The gallery affords a sweeping view of the Ithaca landscape as it changes over the course of the day and the seasons. Nearly every one of the museum’s more than 60,000 annual visitors stops by the gallery to take in the view and enjoy the art.

The gallery currently hosts Central and South Asian ceramics and sculptures, allowing for a close look at works of art inside and the spectacular landscape outside. Over the decades, this gallery has become an essential stop for prospective students and their families. Athletic coaches bring new recruits to see the view and fall in love with Cornell (like so many have before them).

“The grand view feels full of possibility. It creates a space for students to take a breath and maybe step away from the intensity of their daily work to connect with art and with nature. It’s a place to connect with themselves and one another,” says Jessica Levin Martinez, the Richard J. Schwartz Director of the Johnson Museum.

Visitors gathered in the lakeview gallery during the Museum’s 50th anniversary celebration event in 2023. Credit: Simon Wheeler
Visitors gathered in the lakeview gallery during the Museum’s 50th anniversary celebration event in 2023. Credit: Simon Wheeler

 

Earlier this year, Paul Vizcarrondo ’70, together with the couple’s friends and family, made a gift to the museum to name the Andrea Gottlieb Vizcarrondo 1972 Lakeview Gallery as a lasting legacy to his wife, who passed away in 2023.

Andrea joined the Museum’s advisory council in 2017, and it was a role which Paul says mattered a great deal to her. “Being on the advisory council became a true passion for her. She really came to love the museum,” he notes.

“Andrea was a very visual person. She loved beauty. The lakeview gallery is an iconic spot on campus that so many people see and remember. Now, people will see this space and her name will be associated with it. This seems the right way to remember Andrea.” —Paul Vizcarrondo ’70

Prior to Andrea’s passing, she and Paul discussed making a gift to the museum. When it came time to designate the gift, Paul chose to name the museum’s lakeview gallery for Andrea.

This generous gift will also support the museum’s educational priorities, including making its collections more accessible. It is serving as seed money to jumpstart a campaign to renovate the museum’s print room into a space for students and scholars to interact one-on-one with the museum’s more than 14,000 works on paper—including prints, drawings, watercolors, portfolios, and artists’ books.

A Cornell love story

Andrea Gottlieb Vizcarrondo ’72 as an undergraduate at Ithaca Falls
Andrea Gottlieb Vizcarrondo ’72 as an undergraduate at Ithaca Falls

Paul Vizcarrondo ’70 still recalls the first time he saw Andrea Gottlieb ’72 while they were both students at Cornell. “It was hard not to notice her, since she was one of the most beautiful women on campus,” he says.

Back in the early 1970s, there were far more men than women on campus. “I think the ratio was three and a half or four men for every woman,” Paul notes.

When they were students, Paul did not pursue Andrea, believing that she was “out of my league.” Paul’s family was of modest means, and it was a financial stretch for him to attend Cornell. He received a Regent’s scholarship from New York State, which covered most of his tuition costs at the ILR School. When he visited, he fell in love with the campus.

“Cornell was a great school,” he observes. “I was able to take courses anywhere in the university. So, I got a very large liberal arts education, essentially for free.”

After graduation, Paul went straight to law school, clerked for a federal judge for a year, and landed a job as a US assistant attorney in New York City. As he pursued a high-powered legal career, his self-confidence grew.

Andrea and Paul on their wedding day
Andrea and Paul on their wedding day

 

When he crossed paths with Andrea again at a party in 1974, he didn’t hesitate to introduce himself—even though Andrea was there with a date.

“When she broke away from her date for a few minutes, I went up and said hello. And she didn’t push me away,” he says. Paul asked the host of the party for Andrea’s phone number, and, a few days later, he called.

Apparently, Andrea quickly warmed to Paul once they met. “We had a really, really nice time,” he recalls. A year and a half later, they were married.

Andrea’s passion for art

Andrea majored in design with a concentration in art history at Cornell. She spent a semester abroad studying art in Florence, Italy—at a time when studying abroad was far less common than it is today.

“I think the time she spent in Florence transformed her appreciation for art into a lifelong passion. She always wanted to experience as much art as she possibly could and share the wonder of each piece with anyone who would listen.” —Nina Vizcarrondo, Andrea’s daughter

Andrea on a gondola in Venice in the early 1980s
Andrea on a gondola in Venice in the early 1980s

After graduation, Andrea worked in the fashion industry, as an assistant buyer at Bloomingdales, as fashion director at B. Altman (one of the city’s grand department stores that no longer exists), and as director of fashion and advertising at VF (Vanity Fair) Corporation. When she had children of her own, she decided to leave the corporate world—but she never abandoned her passion for art.

For more than 35 years, Andrea volunteered as a docent at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, where she conducted tours for elementary school children through the museum’s educational program. During this time, she earned a master of science in education degree from Bank Street Graduate School of Education, where she studied museum leadership.

“Cornell nurtured my mom’s inherent artistic curiosity, sparking a lifelong commitment to art education. Naming the stunning lakeview gallery after her is a beautiful way to honor her memory and ensure her passion for art and beauty will continue to inspire future generations.” —Peter Vizcarrondo, Andrea’s son

National leader in museum education

Andrea with her children Nina and Peter at the National Antiquities Museum in Athens
Andrea with her children Nina and Peter at the National Antiquities Museum in Athens

When Jessica Levin Martinez came to Cornell in summer 2019 to lead the Johnson Museum, Andrea was serving on the advisory board. The two met for lunch and their conversation inspired Jessica.

“She was beautiful, but her elegance was from the inside. She was generous and kind,” Jessica says. “She brought to the conversation a love of Cornell and a real encouragement for our work. It was heartfelt.”

When the museum launched its Friends of Photography Acquisition Committee in 2019 to grow and strengthen its collection of photography, Andrea joined fellow alumni to help add more than 20 new photography acquisitions to the museum’s collection of more than 40,000 artworks.

Andrea also believed that the museum could and should be a national leader in museum education. She attended education sessions with local schoolchildren so that she could inform herself and share new approaches with museum staff based on her decades of experience as a docent at the Met. In November 2021, Andrea joined two museum classes held for fourth graders from Fall Creek Elementary School in Ithaca over Zoom. The sessions explored “Art and Environmental Struggle,” which was one of the first exhibitions the museum presented after being closed to the public during the pandemic.

Andrea with an elementary school class she mentored in art appreciation
Andrea with an elementary school class she mentored in art appreciation

 

Andrea later wrote to Carol Hockett, Hintsa Family Manager of School and Family Programs at the museum, “It was wonderful to see the active engagement of all those imaginative young students. The pandemic has not put out the bright light that shone through those eager faces and voices.”

Jessica describes a meeting of the museum advisory council held over Zoom during the height of the pandemic. Andrea took the group on a virtual tour of her personal art collection and invited the group to look closer.

“Andrea created an environment where we all got to know one another through looking deeply and saying, ‘What do you see now?’ We shared what each of us saw and our different perspectives on the same artwork. You can always see more, right? This close looking is what a museum does and hopes for,” Jessica explains.

For a spring 2024 “Humanities Scholars Research Methods” course, Alison Rittershaus, Lynch Postdoctoral Associate in Curricular Engagement, uses “Early Warning,” a 1984 acrylic on canvas by American artist David R. Smyth, installed in the Richard Sukenik ’59 Teaching Gallery at the Johnson Museum.
For a spring 2024 “Humanities Scholars Research Methods” course, Alison Rittershaus, Lynch Postdoctoral Associate in Curricular Engagement, uses “Early Warning,” a 1984 acrylic on canvas by American artist David R. Smyth, installed in the Richard Sukenik ’59 Teaching Gallery at the Johnson Museum.

 

Each year, the Museum serves nearly 7,000 children from schools in a 30-mile radius of Ithaca—along with tens of thousands of visitors from Cornell, upstate New York, and around the globe. The museum opens its doors to everyone in the community free of charge.

“For elementary and middle school learners living in rural Ithaca and its surrounding region, the Johnson Museum is their museum,” Jessica observes. “We welcome children so that they feel a sense of belonging, and also a curiosity about the world and their place in it. We hope they will feel empowered and more at ease in every museum they visit, more able to look closely and ask new questions. There’s always more to see.”

Learn more about opportunities to support the Johnson Museum.

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