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The College of William & Mary, the Muscarelle Museum of Art

One of the strongest motives that lead men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness, from the fetters of ones own ever-shifting desires. A finely tempered nature longs to escape from the personal life in the world of objective perception and thought.

Albert Einstein

 Muscarelle Museum of Art Williamsburg, Virginia. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/ 2011.

The Muscarelle Museum of Art is located in Williamsburg, Virginia. Unlike many university museums, the Muscarelle was not built by the College of William & Mary but rather given to it in 1983 through various donors such as Joseph Muscarelle, in the attempt to provide a sanctuary for artworks already owned and displayed throughout the university.

The museum, whos first  director was Glenn Lowry (currently Director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York), boasts a well-rounded art catalog. However, its obvious strengths are manifested through various examples of European and American portraiture crafted in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The collection also includes works of American Abstract Expressionism, Japanese prints, and multiple German Expressionist pieces by Hans Grohs.

Georgia O'Keeffe White Flower (1932) Image courtesy of www.tfaoi.com.

The museum’s south facing façade features the “world’s first solar painting” done by Gene Davis. It is comprised of over-sized tubes full of different colors of water that are illuminated from behind. In 1987 the Muscarelle underwent a renovation that doubled the size of the original structure. Currently, the museum is in the planning stages of developing a new arts complex that will expand the museum and significantly enhance the overall experience of the visitor.

Gallery interior, Studio Art faculty show, 2009. Image courtesy of Muscarelle Museum of Art.

The Muscarelle is operated by a staff of twelve museum professionals as well as a group of student interns and volunteers. It also was the home to the renowned museum director Glen Lowry before he began working at the Modern Museum of Art. The museum has educational programs catering to people of all ages. Additionally, it hosts visiting artists and other lecturers to educate their student community and provide a forum for exchanging ideas. In addition to docent led tours, the museum also gives tours to school groups studying Virginia’s curriculum. It also provides youth art programs like “Line”, “Shape”, “Color” and “The Discovery Bag” that help youth relate to, and learn about, art in the museum and recognize formal elements in their own artwork. Volunteers and interns from inside and outside the university are welcome and are given opportunities to explore their own personal interests within the museum. The Muscarelle calls itself a “laboratory” institution, where the education of the visitor is based on his or her own knowledge and perspective.

Shannon McGill & Sabrina McGill

Muscarelle Museum of Art