The University of Virginia Art Museum is dedicated to creating an environment in which the largest possible share of its diverse constituencies, including members of the University community and the general public, can study and learn from the direct experience of works of art.
The Museum promotes visual literacy as part of a broader, comprehensive education for all and seeks to enhance its visitors' perceptions and understanding of world cultures throughout history and of art as an enduring human endeavor. To this end, the Museum shall acquire, preserve, study, exhibit, and interpret works of art of the highest quality in a variety of media that represent the world's cultures from earliest times to the present.
The Permanent Collection
The University Museum maintains a collection of approximately 12,000 objects in support of our mission. UVaM exhibits American and European painting, works on paper, and sculpture of the 15th–20th centuries; art from the ancient Mediterranean; Asian art; Native American art. Highlights of the collection of modern paintings, sculpture and works on paper include American figurative art and photography.
Each year the Museum presents a selection of exhibitions drawn from the collections and sources nationwide. A new print gallery now allows for the comprehensive study of the Museum’s major holdings in prints, drawings, and photography; the new object study gallery will provide space for research into ethnographic holdings—African, Native American, Oceanic, and pre-Columbian art—as well as artifacts form the ancient Mediterranean world.
The Thomas H. Bayly Memorial Building, which houses the Museum, opened its doors in March 1935. Designed by then-Dean of Architecture Edmund S.Campbell, the building was financed by a bequest from Evelyn May Bayly Tiffany in honor of her father, a University graduate. In its early years, the Museum received several important works of art, including 17th century French and Flemish tapestries, two Rodin sculptures, and Frederic Church's Natural Bridge, Virginia. The Museum was closed for the duration of World War II and reopened in 1946, renewing a schedule of temporary exhibitions.
From the early 1960s until 1972, faced with academic space shortages, the University changed the building's function to house art and architecture classrooms. In 1973, with completion of the new architecture school, the University extensively refurbished the Museum, reactivated its programs, and appointed both a director and curator. Since reopening in 1974, the Museum has hired a core professional staff and built a broad collection with a number of special strengths, through gift and purchase.
A changing exhibition program complements the collections, enriches art and interdisciplinary initiatives at the University and in the community, and offers students opportunities to work with innovative artists. Public lectures, symposia and special events relate exhibitions and the collection to a broad and diverse audience. Docents design and present hundreds of individually tailored tours to schools and University students, seniors, community groups, and special needs populations.
In 2001, UVaM was awarded national accreditation by the American Association of Museums. Accreditation was reconfirmed in 2008.