Dr. Janne Sirén To Open 2019–2020 TASIS Speaker Series on October 21
Posted 10/17/2019 09:55AM

Dr. Janne Sirén '88

Dr. Janne Sirén—a 1988 graduate of TASIS who now serves as the Peggy Pierce Elfvin Director of the renowned Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York—will open the 2019–2020 TASIS Speaker Series on Monday, October 21. He will visit seven IB and AP visual arts classes throughout Monday and Tuesday, will address the senior class in the Palmer Center at 19:00 on Monday evening, and will lead a question-and-answer session with students and faculty members in Casa Fleming following his address.

Dr. Sirén, who spoke to TASIS seniors about visual literacy in November 2012, was appointed Director of the Albright-Knox in April 2013 after serving as Director of Finland’s Helsinki Art Museum—one of the largest cultural institutions in the Nordic region—where he oversaw an active exhibitions, acquisitions, and museum development program. Prior to that, he served as Director of the Tampere Art Museum in southern Finland from 2004–2007. He has also worked in the Department of Art History at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, teaching courses in modern and contemporary art, aesthetics, museology, and critical theory.

Dr. Sirén has demonstrated experience in community growth and development. He served on Helsinki’s Tourism Advancement Group as a representative of the cultural and museum field, helping to strengthen the tourism industry in Helsinki while identifying strategic principles for future development. Because of his work on that task force, he is keenly aware of the issues and challenges surrounding cultural tourism.

A passionate advocate for the active role of the museum and the arts, Dr. Sirén has a special interest in the growth of communities. Since his appointment at Albright-Knox, he has initiated several major exhibitions—including Monet and the Impressionist Revolution, 1860–1910, and Anselm Kiefer: Beyond Landscape—launched the innovative Public Art Initiative and Innovation Lab, and directed the AK360 Campus Expansion & Renovation Project.

Dr. Sirén spent all of his collegiate career in the United States, ultimately earning a Ph.D. from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University in 2001.

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The TASIS Speaker Series (TSS), formerly known as the Senior Humanities Program (SHP) and renamed in the fall of 2018 year to more accurately reflect its present purpose, draws from five fundamental elements of the TASIS identity—truth, goodness, beauty, international understanding, and humanitarian action—to provide TASIS students with a signature educational experience. 

The TSS Committee—now ably chaired by English Department Chair Dr. Chris Love following the excellent work done by departed English teacher Peter Locke—selects four speakers each year who embody the pillars of the program—with priority given to speakers who fulfill those virtues in some capacity. The Committee strives for a variety of voices, backgrounds, and professions represented in each year’s group but ultimately selects speakers on the basis of their ability to enhance the intellectual and moral experience of the outgoing seniors and the community as a whole. (The full lineup for the 2019-2020 TASIS Speaker Series is forthcoming.)

Although the TSS focuses on students near the end of their TASIS careers, the program aspires to serve as an educative instrument for the entire division, creating opportunities for all High School students to interact with people and ideas of significance that are concerned with the world beyond the TASIS campus. Students enhance their intellectual experience through discussions, lectures, class visits, and film screenings centered on some combination of truth, goodness, beauty, international understanding, and humanitarian action. Above all else, the program conveys a clear message to students about what the School hopes for and expects from them after they leave TASIS.

The influential program was initially made possible by a CHF 100,000 donation from TASIS parents Michael and Jane Grindfors to The M. Crist Fleming Endowment for International Understanding and Leadership in 2008. It remains an integral part of a TASIS education thanks to ongoing support from the TASIS Board of Directors and the excellent behind-the-scenes work done by a dedicated group of students and faculty members.

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