he Schein-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Art at Alfred houses nearly 8,000 ceramic and glass objects, ranging from small pottery shards recovered from ancient civilizations to contemporary sculpture and installation pieces to advanced ceramics reflecting the cutting edge of ceramic technology. The Museum is a teaching and research facility, one educational component of the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University.
In 1900, Charles Fergus Binns was appointed as the founding director of the New York State School of Clay-Working and Ceramics, now known as the College of Ceramics. Thus, the study of ceramic art and science was established as the educational focus at Alfred and has remained so for more than a century.
In the early 1900's as Binns taught pottery making, glaze and clay recipes, and ceramic history, a small "museum " was established where groupings of student and faculty work could be displayed for study, enjoyment and discussion. Collections were amassed almost independent of scholarly direction. Nearly ninety years later, in 1991, a Museum was formally established at Alfred. The Museum celebrates American ceramics, but within the broader context of worldwide ceramic creativity and history, a history representing thousands of years.
The outstanding collection of graduate thesis ceramics created by Alfred-educated ceramists is unique to Alfred and historically has formed the core of the collection. The permanent collection has grown to include works by internationally recognized ceramic artists such as Rosanjin, Bernard Leach, Shoji Hamada, and Lucie Rie as well as Chinese funerary jars and tomb sculpture from the Neolithic Period, Roman and Byzantine lamps, Nigerian market pottery, European dinnerware, and products of American whiteware companies. Also represented are advanced ceramics, including a femoral hip joint replacement and a ceramic (zirconia) watch. Internationally recognized American artists represented in the Museum's permanent collection include Charles F. Binns, Anne Currier, Val Cushing, Ruth Duckworth, Ken Ferguson, Andrea and John Gill, Vivika and Otto Heino, Wayne Higby, Karen Karnes, Howard Kottler, Harrison MacIntosh, Theodore Randall, Daniel Rhodes, Mary Roettger, David Shaner, Ellen Shankin, Robert Turner, Peter Voulkos, Beatrice Wood, Betty Woodman, and Eva Zeisel, to name just a few.