Muscarelle Museum of Art

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Muscarelle Museum of Art
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Muscarelle Museum of Art in 2009
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Location within Virginia
Established1983 (1983)
Location College of William and Mary
Williamsburg, Virginia
Type Art museum
Accreditation American Alliance of Museums
Collection size6,000 objects

Coordinates: 37°16′05″N76°42′57″W / 37.2679526°N 76.7158878°W / 37.2679526; -76.7158878


The Muscarelle Museum of Art is a university museum affiliated with the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. While the Museum only dates to 1983, the university art collection has been in existence since its first gift – a portrait of the physicist Robert Boyle – in 1732. Most early gifts to William & Mary relate to its history or the history of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Gifts of portraiture were the foundation of the early collection and include many First Families of Virginia (FFV) including sitters from the Page, Bolling and Randolph families. [1]


Throughout the years, gifts of art continued to accumulate including a donation of White Flower by Georgia O'Keeffe given to William & Mary in 1938 by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. This major work in the collection had indiscriminately "decorated" various campus walls, old and new, until it was re-discovered by President Thomas Ashley Graves Jr. in the 1970s. Graves tasked Dr. Miles Chappell, from the department of art and art history, to make a college-wide inventory. It was at that time that the immensity and importance of the growing collection was understood and the need for a university museum became apparent.

With the support of numerous alumni, including a major benefactor, Joseph L. Muscarelle (W&M '27) and his wife Margaret, the Muscarelle Museum of Art opened in 1983 with Dr. Glenn D. Lowry as director. In 1987, the second director, Mark Johnson oversaw the expansion of the facility and the first American Alliance of Museums accreditation in 1988. Subsequent accreditations came in 2000 under then-director Dr. Bonnie Kelm, and in 2012 under former director Dr. Aaron De Groft. David M. Brashear was appointed as interim director in January 2019, and in June 2020 was named as the museum's fifth director.

Current activities

Today the collection numbers over 6,000 works. Of particular note are Colonial American and English seventeenth and eighteenth century portraits; a survey collection of original prints and drawings from the fifteenth through the twenty-first centuries including Japanese prints and a major collection of German Expressionist works by Hans Grohs; and the Jean Outland Chrysler collection of American modern works interpreted in oils, drawings, watercolors, and sculpture. Recent acquisitions include European master works by such artists as Luca Giordano and Luca Forte, historic photographic works by Julia Margaret Cameron, Carleton E. Watkins and Edward S. Curtis, as well as contemporary Native American works by Kay WalkingStick, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Emmi Whitehorse, and Cara Romero.

Plans are underway to renovate and expand the existing museum to create a state of the art facility as part of the Martha Wren Briggs Center for the Visual Arts [2] designed by world-renowned architects Pelli Clarke & Partners. The expanded Muscarelle Museum of Art will provide additional gallery space for both traveling exhibitions and the permanent collection as well as create additional space for lectures, events, and programming. [3]

Selected exhibitions

ExhibitionStart DateEnd Date
Shared Ideologies, Selected works by Native American artists from the 1970s to the PresentSeptember 1, 2021February 13, 2022
Forever Marked By The DaySeptember 10, 2021January 23, 2022
1619 / 2019November 6, 2019January 26, 2020
Women with Vision: Masterworks from the Permanent CollectionFebruary 10, 2018May 13, 2018
In the Light of Caravaggio: Dutch and Flemish Paintings from Southeastern MuseumsFebruary 10, 2018May 13, 2018
Building on the Legacy: African American Art from the Permanent CollectionSeptember 2, 2017January 14, 2018
Fred Eversley: 50 Tears an Artist: Light & Space & EnergySeptember 2, 2017December 10, 2017
The Bones of the Earth: Scholars Rocks and the Natural World in Chinese Culture, Selections from the Robert Turvene CollectionApril 21, 2017August 13, 2017
The Art and Science of ConnoisseurshipFebruary 11, 2017August 13, 2017
Botticelli and the Search for the Divine: Florentine Painting between the Medici and the Bonfires of the VanitiesFebruary 11, 2017April 5, 2017
Building the Brafferton: The Founding, Funding and Legacy of America's Indian SchoolSeptember 10, 2016January 8, 2017
Contemporary American Marine Art: 17th National Exhibition of the American Society of Marine ArtistsSeptember 10, 2016December 2, 2016
Norman Rockwell and the Boy ScoutsFebruary 6, 2016August 21, 2016
Hiroshige's 53 Stations of the TōkaidōFebruary 6, 2016August 21, 2016
Twilight of a Golden Age: Florentine Painting after the Renaissance, masterworks from the Haukohl Family CollectionApril 25, 2015January 17, 2016
Leonardo da Vinci and the Idea of BeautyFebruary 21, 2015April 5, 2015
Tree to Mountain: The Woodblock Prints of Tōshi YoshidaOctober 17, 2014February 8, 2014
21st Century Diplomacy: Ballet, Ballots and BulletsMay 31, 2014September 28, 2014
Caravaggio Connoisseurship: Saint Francis in Meditation and the Capitoline Fortune TellerFebruary 8, 2014April 6, 2014
Glenn Close: A Life in CostumeSeptember 28, 2013January 12, 2014
A Brush with Passion: Mattia Preti (1613–1699)February 9, 2013April 14, 2013
Michelangelo: Sacred and Profane, Masterpieces from the Casa BuonarrotiFebruary 9, 2013April 14, 2013
African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era, and Beyond from the Smithsonian Art MuseumSeptember 28, 2012January 6, 2013
Athenian Potters and Painters: Greek Vases from Virginia CollectionsAugust 18, 2012October 7, 2012
Seeing Colors: Secrets of the ImpressionistsOctober 20, 2011January 22, 2012
In Memory Still: A Kiowa Legacy in ArtSeptember 10, 2011November 13, 2011
Envelopes: Architect's Unfinished Experiments with Building "Skins"September 17, 2010October 24, 2010
Merging Souls: Arts of Devotion in Latin AmericaApril 24, 2010July 18, 2010
Unbearable Beauty: Triumph of the Human Spirit, Photographs by W. Eugene Smith and Aileen M. SmithApril 24, 2010July 18, 2010
Michelangelo: Anatomy as Architecture, Drawings by the MasterFebruary 6, 2010-
Deeply Superficial: Andy Warhol's "Voyeurism"November 7, 2009January 17, 2010
Spanish Baroque in the New World: Sibyls from Zurbarán's StudioAugust 4, 2009November 1, 2009
Tiffany Glass: A Riot of Color ("Art of Glass" ten year anniversary in Conjunction with Chrysler, Contemporary Art Center of VA, and the VA Arts Festival)April 16, 2009July 12, 2009
The Dutch Italianates: Seventeenth-Century Masterpieces from Dulwich Picture GalleryNovember 13, 2008March 22, 2009
Beyond the Edge of the Sea: Diversity of Life in the Deep-Ocean WildernessSeptember 5November 2, 2008
Painting the Italian Landscape: Views from the UffiziJanuary 25, 2008March 23, 2008
Legacy of the Generations: Jacob Lawerence's Legend of John BrownNovember 16, 2007December 16, 2007
America the Beautiful: The Monumental Landscape of Clyde ButcherSeptember 6, 2007December 16, 2007
Building a College: The Colonial Revival Campus at The College of William & MarySeptember 6, 2007November 12, 2007
Stars & Stripes: Rare & Historic American Flags from the Collection of Mark and Rosalind ShenkmanJune 16, 2007July 29, 2007
Visions of the Soul: Works by Hans Friedrich GrohsMay 5, 2007July 29, 2007
An American Story: The Wyeth Family Tradition In ArtApril 21, 2007May 27, 2007
Jaune Quick-To-See Smith: Contemporary Native American Paintings and the Response to ColonizationFebruary 10, 2007April 8, 2007
Medici in America, Natura Morta: Still-Life Paintings of the Medici Collections & Caravaggio's Still Life with Fruit on a Stone LedgeNovember 11, 2006January 7, 2007
The Tsar's Cabinet: Two Hundred Years of Russian Decorative Arts Under the RomanovsAugust 26, 2006October 8, 2006
Eloquent Vistas: The Art of Nineteenth-Century Landscape Photography from the George Eastman House CollectionNovember 5, 2005January 8, 2006
Charles E. Burchfield: Backyards and BeyondAugust 27, 2005October 23, 2005
Toulouse-Lautrec: Master of the Moulin RougeAugust 28, 2004October 24, 2004
American Studio Glass: A Survey of the MovementJanuary 24, 2004March 21, 2004
Shaped with Passion: The Carl A. Weyerhaeuser Collection of Japanese Ceramics from the 1970sAugust 18, 2001October 7, 2001
Quilt National 1999: The Best in Contemporary QuiltsMay 5, 2001July 7, 2001
Georgia O'Keeffe in Williamsburg: A Re-Creation of the Artist's First Public Exhibition in the SouthJanuary 27, 2001April 27, 2001
Bridges & Boundaries Revisited: African Americans & American JewsAugust 26, 2000October 29, 2000
Hung Liu: A Ten Year Survey 1988–1998August 26, 1998October 18, 1998
Ties That Bind: Iban Ikat FabricsJuly 11, 1998August 16, 1998
Inuit II: From the Collection of Frederick & Lucy S. Herman; Contemporary American Indian Art: The Joe Fedderson CollectionAugust 23, 1997October 19, 1997
Building Form: Ansel Adams & ArchitectureJune 14, 1997August 17, 1997
Nell Blaine: RetrospectiveOctober 19, 1996December 1, 1996
Voyages & Visions: Nineteenth-Century European Images of the Middle East from the Victoria & Albert MuseumJanuary 20, 1996March 3, 1996
African-American Works on PaperOctober 21, 1995December 3, 1995
Before Discovery: Artistic Development in the Americas Before the Arrival of ColumbusMay 27, 1995August 27, 1995
The Passionate Observer: Photographs by Carl Van VechtenApril 1, 1995May 21, 1995
The Reverend James Blair: Preparatory Models & Drawings for the Stature by Lewis CohenFebruary 25, 1995May 21, 1995
Drawn on the Spot: Perceptions and ViewsOctober 15, 1994January 8, 1995
A Golden Age of Painting: Dutch, Flemish & German Paintings of the 16th – 17th Centuries from the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation, Houston, Texas; The Fine Art of Drawing: Works on Paper from the Museum and the Herman Foundation CollectionsJanuary 23, 1993March 21, 1993
Lila Katzen Quincentenary Sculpture Exhibition: Isabel, Columbus & the Statue of LibertyFebruary 29, 1992April 5, 1992
Rodin: Sculpture from the B. Gerald Cantor CollectionFebruary 28, 1991April 28, 1991
Portraits & Prospects: British & Irish Drawings & Watercolors from the Collection of the Ulster MuseumJanuary 13, 1990March 4, 1990
Photographs by David HockneyMarch 18, 1989April 30, 1989
Art & the LawDecember 21, 1987January 17, 1988
Photographs by Yousuf KarshJuly 4, 1987September 20, 1987
Modernism in America: 1937–1941August 25, 1985November 17, 1985
19th Century German Drawings from the Frederick & Lucy S. Herman FoundationApril 24, 1985May 4, 1985
Gene Davis: Child & Man CollaborationJanuary 11, 1985February 25, 1985
Into the Melting Pot: The Immigration of American Modernism (1909–1929)October 8, 1984January 10, 1985
In Search of Light: Spanish Painters from 1850–1950May 11, 1984July 9, 1984
Late 20th Century Art from the Sydney & Frances Lewis FoundationFebruary 4, 1984April 30, 1984
Form, Function, & Finesse: Drawings from the Frederick & Lucy Herman FoundationOctober 21, 1983December 21, 1983

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  1. "About the Muscarelle". Muscarelle Museum of Art. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  2. University Advancement staff (November 18, 2016). "W&M announces new, multimillion-dollar Martha Wren Briggs Center for the Visual Arts" (Press release). William & Mary College. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  3. "Muscarelle director unveils details of museum expansion".