The New Hampshire Institute of Art continues to expand both in the classroom and out. The freshman class this year was the largest in school history, and when students come next fall they will find the institute has an even larger footprint in the city of Manchester.
The institute has entered into a lease purchase arrangement for the building that was the longtime home of the Franco-American Centre, which has since moved to Saint Anselm College. The building at 52 Concord St. in Manchester will become a new student center as well as housing offices for Admissions, the Registrar, and Financial Aid. The building, constructed in 1910, comprises 9,500 square feet, so it has plenty of space for all these offices. The move frees up space in Fuller Hall for the current library to expand, which was welcome news to several students.
While incoming students will find more space to study, they will also have an additional 50 new student housing slots, as the institute has expanded its housing options at 1000 Elm St. There’s now housing for 150 students. Students who desire single, double or even triple occupancy will find options available for them in the new housing.
Of course, these new students will also need to eat. They’ll be able to do so at a completely new dining facility, which will offer locally produced items, at 1001 Elm St., which used to be the home of The Atrium restaurant. This is the first time the school will be offering a meal plan.
All sorts of firsts are being felt at the Institute of Art, which projects its enrollment to reach 500 students next year, for the first time in its history, which dates back to 1898 when the school was formed as the Manchester Institute of Arts and Sciences. These students come from all across the country; young people from 26 states are currently represented at the school.
But the question must be asked: is bigger better? For some students the answer is yes, if it is done right.
“There are positives and negatives,” said Brandon Vesci of Manchester, who will be a senior next fall.
Vesci said as the school has evolved it has done a good job of changing the curriculum so that it prepares students better for the real world. Vesci cited a minor in printmaking and a discussion about having a master’s degree as positive changes. He also said the physical expansion will allow for more classroom space, which he thought was a good thing.
But he said more students also means less one-on-one time with faculty. Vesci said his freshman year there were only eight students in some of his classes, and now that number has almost doubled.
Marie Hickey, a freshman from New Jersey, thinks having more students will be beneficial as long as the school maintains its rigorous acceptance standards. If that is the case, than a greater number of talented young artists will only help the students improve their skills. However, not everyone who attends the school knew such student expansions were ahead.
“Some students picked the school because they liked that it was small,” Hickey said.
Ian DeCelli, a graduating senior from upstate New York, said the expansions have created a much better place to learn and work. He said the school now boasts a new printmaking studio and renovated digital labs. DeCelli said the school has done a fine job of maintaining its traditional focus of hammering home the basics of drawing and painting but also evolving with the changes in technology.
The continued growth of the school has brought a certain level of energy. This energy was on full display on Saturday, May 21, as people strolled around Manchester popping into the school’s many buildings and admiring the work of graduating students during the 2011 Senior Exhibition.