Muscarelle celebrates 25th anniversary

Twenty-five years later, the Muscarelle Museum of Art is all grown up.

In the 1970s, Thomas A. Graves Jr., then-College of William and Mary’s President, ordered a survey of the College’s art collection, which was, scattered around campus in offices and academic buildings. Art history professor Miles Chappell discovered many valuable — and unprotected — works of art, including a Georgia O’Keefe original. The O’Keefe now hangs in the Muscarelle’s foyer.

Donations of art from families associated with the museum enlarged the collection. One notable donation was “Blue and Red” by American painter Max Weber. “Blue and Red” was given by Weber’s son, Maynard Weber, who was head coach of the College’s baseball team in 1964 and again from 1979 to 1991.

Joseph Muscarelle ’27 made a large donation in 1983 to open his namesake museum. The first director, Glenn Lowry, now directs the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Located between Morton and Andrews Halls, the museum remains an untapped resource for many students, despite the wealth of art and history that resides within its walls.

“It’s not necessarily on everyone’s radar,” Muscarelle Curator of Education Amy Gorman said. “We have faculty that were here before it was built. If they didn’t start with that notion, they don’t tell their students about it.”

The Muscarelle, free to students and faculty, targets students interested in participating in the inner-workings of the museum as well as those using the museum for academic research. There are several opportunities for students interested in becoming involved with the museum.

“We balance the academic work that the student [intern] is doing with their interests and with their career goals,” Gorman said. “You might find, when you learn what a registrar does, that that’s the work you want to do, which is cataloguing and archiving our collection … so even if you’re a business major, you might find out that’s what you’re really passionate about.”

The museum can also function as a venue for students to congregate on campus.

“You can come here and you can have a great discussion about what a painting means with a fellow student, or a faculty member, or a colleague or your parents or your girlfriends or boyfriends,” Gorman said. “Art evokes discussion, so you could have a great date night.”

The Muscarelle hosts movie nights throughout the semester, at which feature films loosely related to current exhibits are shown. In November, the Muscarelle will host “Starry Night,” a semi-formal dance and evening of music.

“The museum is also a social place,” Gorman said. “We want to get people into the museum, and we want them to see the potential of the art, of course. But it’s also fun.”


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