University of Virginia, Part 3: Franlin Museum of Art

The University of Virginia’s Fralin Museum of Art, named in honor of Cynthia and W. Heywood Fralin in 2012 after they bequeathed their American art collection to the museum, occupies a historic building just a short distance from the Rotunda. The Franlin serves as a teaching museum for the university and is open to the public with free admission.

The museum’s permanent collection consists of nearly 14,000 works, most notably its collections of:

  • African art
  • Aboriginal art (with one of the most important collections outside of Australia)
  • South Asian painting
  • Pre-Columbian art
  • Native American art and artifacts
  • 18th, 19th, and 20th-century American and European painting
  • Both Old Master and Modern prints & drawings
  • 19th, 20th, and 21st-century photography

The museum was originally inaugurated as the University of Virginia Art Museum with a modest art collection in 1935. Additionally, the building also held the University’s Special Collections Library, which included significant documents and decorative art pieces from Thomas Jefferson. The museum has been closed twice in its history — first, during World War II, and again during the 1960’s, when it was used for additional classroom space, until being reconstituted in 1974.

  • Visited: Oct 2013 (including a retrospective on Émilie Charmy (above), one of the most original female voices of modern art in Paris during the first half of the 20th century)

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