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Hollins University, the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum

Entrance to the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center

Hollins University has, despite the perceptions of being just a “standard” university, recently become somewhat of a treasure trove of art. This treasure trove has become the location of Hollins' on-campus museum, the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum. The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum is located at Hollins University in Roanoke.  The museum is named after founder Eleanor Delaney “Siddy” Wilson who graduated from Hollins University, became an accomplished actress, and later pursued her interest in art under Margaret Stark and Raphael Soyer. Hollins’ collection includes art from internationally renowned artist to regional artists.  Their goal is to aid in the creative process and to provide a place that enriches the life of the University and the surrounding community. The actual museum is located on the first floor of the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center, which is a climate-controlled space, and includes three connected galleries and 4,000 sq. feet in display space.  It houses a permanent collection and an educational resource center that is open to students, patrons, and teachers who are interested in studying the collections.[1]

Inside the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum

                A goal of the museum, according to the director Amy Moorefield, is to be efficient in providing educational and cultural resources to the people of Southwest Virginia.  The current exhibition includes works from Suzanna Fields, who grew up in Virginia and has a MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in painting; her paintings are described as “whimsical and wondrous.”  Among her paintings there is also a new installation piece of hers as well.  The exhibition also includes a variety of new works that were donated into the permanent collection which include works from James McGarral, Binh Danh, and Jean Helion. In addition to having a status as an incredible art museum, the Wilson has also extended outreach to its community by holding frequent artistic symposiums with its artists and its directors, artistic workshops with its teachers in residence, as well as the additional senior shows that they hold each spring for Hollins University art graduates.[1]

        Hollins' acclaim since it opened has been held up by its critics. For example, the museum held an exhibition of works by Jim Campbell, entitled “In Repose of Memory”. The popular internet art critic Tyler Green spoke of the work as one of the highlights of the fall artistic season.[2] In addition, the Wilson has held previous exhibitions from the artist Fiona Ross, as well as the exhibition “When Janey Comes Marching Home” featuring artwork of female war veterans which was also most recently featured at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Anderson Gallery.[3]

           The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum may have started out with humble beginnings, but has moved to become a major focus of not only the University art scene, but also museum scene on the whole. With its focus on community outreach combining with an emphasis on contemporary regional art, the museum has reached the ranks of the woman that it was named after. And its supporters, such as  Tyler Green, seem to agree.

The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum




[1] Ibid., The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum

[2] Green, t. (2010, September 7). Modern Art Notes: Not your typical fall arts preview. Retrieved from: http://blogs.artinfo.com/modernartnotes/2010/09/not-your-typical-fall-arts-preview/

[3] Ibid., The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum