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University of Richmond, the Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art

“A forum for the visual arts and a catalyst for widely varied issues of visual expression, art research and scholarship within the University and throughout the greater Richmond community and region.”

The Modlin Center for the Arts bridges two older University of Richmond  
Buildings. The entrance to the Harnett Museum of Art and the Print Study  
 Center are housed to the left. Photograph courtesy of University of Richmond

Located six miles from downtown Richmond in the wooded labyrinth of the University of Richmond campus is the Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art. Inside the Collegiate-Gothic style architecture of the Modlin Center for the Arts, the Museum represents its mission as “a forum for the visual arts and a catalyst for widely varied issues of visual expression, art research and scholarship within the University and throughout the greater Richmond community and region.” 4,000-square-feet of gallery space, art studios, and a lecture hall enable the University to fulfill its mission, hosting approximately twelve exhibitions each year.

            Originally founded as the Marsh Art Gallery in 1968, the museum moved into its current space in 1996 upon receiving a collection of prints from I. Webb Surratt, Junior The gift prompted the University’s own acquisition campaign which now includes a variety of artistic works including Albrecht Dürer’s engraving The Monstrous Pig of Landser (c. 1496) and steel assemblages of twentieth-century artist Lawrence Fane, including Pylon (1991). The museum changed its name in 2005 in honor of 1945 graduate Joel Harnett and his wife, Lila, who funded many endeavors of the University’s arts programming.

              Previous to the renaming of the Marsh Art Gallery, the Harnett Print Study Center opened in 2001. Focusing on prints, drawings, and photographs, the 1,200-square-foot Center houses the University print collection including archival storage space, a gallery, and workspace for research. As with the Museum, the print collection spans from the Eighteenth century to the present, including artists William Blake, Pablo Picasso, and Kara Walker.  In educating students, the Print and Museum collections serve a tremendous resource throughout several periods of art history.

The Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature 
houses a large collection of nautilus and conch shells.
A fossil of the Ichthyosaur is among the collection of natural treasures in the Lora Robbins Gallery of Design. 
This specimen measures 20' x 40' x 1 3/4'.

                A third gallery on campus is the Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature located in the Boatwright Memorial Library. This museum holds a collection of over 100,000 natural objects, cultural artwork, artifacts, and decorative fine art pieces. Ranging from Jurassic dinosaur fossils to contemporary blown glass, the collection is unified under the broad categories of man-made art and natural art.

                Each year, the galleries house thesis exhibitions by senior art majors, as well as those curated by art history and museum practice students. Additionally, the Harnett Biennial, a juried exhibition, attracts the work of artists nationwide while the museums often feature objects on loan from such prestigious collections as the Boston Public Library and the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Aaron Ellrich & Sharayah Cochran

Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art