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U.Va. Art Museum Reopens Saturday with Three Exhibits

September 10, 2009 — After a $2 million, five-month renovation project, the University of Virginia Art Museum reopens Saturday. The renovation provides more flexible exhibition space, new classrooms that will provide teaching and learning space for departments that use the museum as an academic resource, and climate control and lighting systems.

Museum director Bruce Boucher talks about the renovations.:

Museum staff moved back into the museum in late August and began staging three exhibitions: "Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village: The Creation of An Architectural Masterpiece," "The Expanding Eye: Art Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe" and "Abstract Photography: Selections from Glenstone." All will be on view through Jan. 3.

"The Jefferson exhibition is an appropriate one with which to reopen what is virtually a new building," museum director Bruce Boucher said. "It's going back to the origins of the University itself and to the importance for Thomas Jefferson of the fine arts, particularly architecture, in creating a proper ambience for study, reflection and spiritual and architectural growth,"

"Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village: The Creation of An Architectural Masterpiece," features original drawings, prints and letters that Jefferson exchanged with his colleagues as the plan for his iconic Academical Village took shape. The exhibition also includes a selection of paintings, drawings and decorative objects that portray Jefferson and the men – many of them skilled slave artisans – who helped give concrete form to his grand vision.

Bruce Boucher discusses the exhibition 'Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village.':

U.Va. architectural history professor Richard Guy Wilson curated a similar exhibition in 1993. Since then, he has continued his research, uncovering new information that paints an even more nuanced picture of the University's earliest development and the people involved in its construction.

In conjunction with the "Academical Village" exhibition, the museum will premiere "Rotunda," a 15-minute film based on images and sounds captured over the course of a year on the Lawn. The film will be shown continuously in the museum's object study gallery.

The project is a collaboration by U.Va. sound artist and music professor Judith Shatin and award-winning experimental filmmaker Robert Arnold, director of the School of Film & Photography at Montana State University. Brief excerpts from interviews she conducted, and sounds of daily life of the Lawn and in the Rotunda as well as music created from those recordings, combine with a selection from more than 300,000 fixed-point camera images to provide the film's woven fabric of everyday life.

"The Expanding Eye: Art Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe," will emphasize Poe's legacy as both artistic and literary. His thrilling and challenging words inspired many visual artists from the 19th century to the present.

Before becoming one of the most influential writers in history, Poe was a member of the first entering class of Jefferson's university. Although Poe's fantastic tendencies seem opposed to Jeffersonian rationalism, both men shared interests in architecture, languages, technology, exploration and invention.

"Abstract Photography: Selections from Glenstone," highlights seminal works by seven contemporary artists, and demonstrates the plurality of photography over the last 30 years. Works featured in "Abstract Photography" come from the collection of contemporary European and American photographs owned by Glenstone Museum of Potomac, Md.

The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m. For additional information about the museum, exhibition and events, visit www.virginia.edu/artmuseum.

— By Jane Ford

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