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University of Richmond Museums' Mission

The University of Richmond Museums serve the University’s students and community, the greater Richmond area, and statewide, national, and international audiences. The University Museums provides the opportunity for the appreciation, knowledge, and scholarship of art, cultural history, and science through the collections, exhibitions (on-campus and traveling), and scholarly publications. Academic and public programs include special courses, lectures, gallery talks, artists’ residencies, workshops, concerts, symposia, and other events.

The collections of the three museums include approximately 100,000 objects, ranging from gemstones and shells, to  decorative arts and artifacts from many cultures, to prints from the Renaissance to the present, to contemporary paintings and sculpture. The University Museums’ activities complement and support the educational mission of the University of Richmond by being integrated with the University’s academic and curricular programs and utilizing student, faculty, and staff involvement. Internships, fellowships, and work/study positions for students enhance the museum’s offerings.

The University of Richmond Museums was formed as a department of the University in 1999 to integrate and expand the offerings of the following museums:

Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art

The Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art is 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. To further this mission, the museum regularly presents exhibitions, lectures, gallery talks, workshops, concerts, symposia, and other programs. The museum currently utilizes its 4,000 square feet of public galleries to feature approximately 12 rotating exhibitions each year.

Formerly known as the Marsh Art Gallery, the museum moved into new spaces at the Modlin Center for the Arts in 1996 and acquired the I. Webb Surratt Jr. Print Collection, which began the museum's active acquisition of works for the permanent collection. In 2005, the Marsh Art Gallery was renamed the Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art in honor of their long-time support of the visual arts on campus.

About Joel and Lila Harnett

Joel W. Harnett died August 11, 2006, at his home in Phoenix. He was a noted publisher, poet, civic leader, and art collector. The University’s art museum — the Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art — is named in honor of him and his wife, Lila, as is the Joel and Lila Harnett Print Study Center. The exhibition, Lasting Impressions: Celebrating the 5th Anniversary of the Joel and Lila Harnett Print Study Center, September 27 to December 8, 2006, was dedicated to the loving memory of Joel Harnett for his generosity, nurturing and leadership of the museums at the University of Richmond.

A 1945 graduate of the University of Richmond, Joel Harnett was a former vice president of Look magazine and founder in 1969 of Media Horizons, a public radio broadcasting and magazine company. A civic leader in New York, he ran for mayor in 1977. Moving to Arizona in 1988 to focus on publishing, he and his wife launched and ran several prominent regional magazines. He served on the board and executive committee of the Heard Museum in Phoenix.

Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature

As the University's natural sciences and decorative arts museum, the Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature, with its collections of natural objects, cultural art, and artifacts, and decorative and fine arts, holds over 100,000 pieces ranging from Jurassic dinosaur fossils to contemporary glass art by Dale Chihuly. Pre-Columbian vessels, ancient coins, Hindu art, and Oceanic art contrast with rare gems and minerals, prehistoric shells, coral, and fluorescent rocks. The collection of Asian art and artifacts includes more than 300 Chinese ceramics, spanning twenty centuries.  

The museum began with the donations of longtime benefactor, Mrs. Lora Robins, in 1977. The original museum, which housed minerals, decorative arts, and shell specimens, was expanded and relocated in 1989 to its present location in a separate wing of the Boatwright Memorial Library.

About Lora Robins

In 1977, Mrs. Lora M. Robins, H'73, widow of the late E. Claiborne Robins, shared her love for beauty in nature by founding the University’s natural sciences and art gallery that bears her name, the Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature. She generously gave several artifacts from her personal collection and continued to support University Museums throughout her life.

Joel and Lila Harnett Print Study Center

Inaugurated on September 22, 2001, the Harnett Print Study Center opened with generous funding from Joel and Lila Harnett of Phoenix, Arizona. The Center is a facility dedicated to the education, research, and exhibition of works on paper, and it extends the Museums' mission to provide a forum for the study and appreciation of the visual arts.  

The 1,200 square-foot facility houses the permanent collection of prints, drawings, and photographs of the University of Richmond Museums and includes an exhibition space, a secure print storage area, a seminar room for the University's art history and studio art courses, and a viewing area for prints being researched by students, faculty, and visiting scholars.  

Prints provide a truly unique opportunity for viewers to learn about artists and their technical styles as well as their myriad influences and environments. The University Museums' collection features works by Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471-1528), Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973), Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917), Francisco de Goya (Spanish, 1746-1828), William Hogarth (English, 1697-1764), Pat Steir (American, born 1940), and Fred Wilson (American, born 1954), among many others. The Harnett Print Study Center has also acquired an extensive collection of work by the following artists: Stefano della Bella (Italian, 1610-1664), Pierre Daura (American, born Spain, 1896-1976), Andreas Feininger (American, born France, 1906-1999), and J.J. Lankes (American, 1884-1960).  

About Joel and Lila Harnett

Joel W. Harnett died August 11, 2006, at his home in Phoenix. He was a noted publisher, poet, civic leader, and art collector. The University’s art museum — the Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art — is named in honor of him and his wife, Lila, as is the Joel and Lila Harnett Print Study Center. The exhibition, Lasting Impressions: Celebrating the 5th Anniversary of the Joel and Lila Harnett Print Study Center, September 27 to December 8, 2006, was dedicated to the loving memory of Joel Harnett for his generosity, nurturing and leadership of the museums at the University of Richmond.

A 1945 graduate of the University of Richmond, Joel Harnett was a former vice president of Look magazine and founder in 1969 of Media Horizons, a public radio broadcasting and magazine company. A civic leader in New York, he ran for mayor in 1977. Moving to Arizona in 1988 to focus on publishing, he and his wife launched and ran several prominent regional magazines. He served on the board and executive committee of the Heard Museum in Phoenix.