The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia has announced that John T. Casteen III, president emeritus of the University of Virginia, and his wife, Betsy, have agreed to join the museum’s advisory board. Casteen will serve as chair.
“This is an exciting moment in the museum’s history,” museum director Bruce Boucher said. “We are all pleased that Betsy and John will be joining our advisory board.
“John Casteen’s presidential leadership, and the Casteens’ level of community engagement, have strengthened the museum in ways that directly benefit both the University and Charlottesville communities. We look forward to working with them to build upon the museum’s growing strengths in these areas.”
Thomas L. Piper III and Elsie W. Thompson, the current co-chairs, will become co-vice chairs. “The Fralin Museum Advisory Board is thrilled to welcome John’s wisdom and leadership and Betsy’s creative energy and passion for the arts,” they wrote in a joint statement. “It’s particularly significant that, at the heart of the University’s Arts Grounds that honor their name, the Casteens will now be continuing the effort initiated during John’s presidency to build a superb U.Va. arts curriculum.
“Jefferson’s vision for his University included a notable museum that would enhance the University’s prestige and value as an institution of higher learning. Reaching toward this goal, The Fralin Museum’s talented scholars and staff have recently presented many exhibitions that have attracted international acclaim – and have engaged more students than ever before. The Fralin is now poised for new growth in its planned expanded facility.
“With Betsy and John’s help, The Fralin Museum can truly be one of the University’s ‘crown jewels,’ while sustaining its tradition of service to our community and region at large.”
A new wing for The Fralin, conceptualized by architects Frederick Fisher and Partners, is part of the current plan for the museum’s expansion, and raising funds for the project will be a central focus for John Casteen as he serves in his new role as chair.
Expansion has become a necessity, as the museum now attracts significant, world-class exhibitions. Increased public attendance and membership have led it to outgrow its existing space.
Currently at the museum, “Joseph Cornell and Surrealism” represents a landmark international loan exhibition. On view through June 8, it was created in collaboration with the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon in Lyon, France.
From 1990 to 2010, Casteen served as U.Va.’s seventh president. His legacy includes an unwavering commitment to diversity, great fundraising acumen and positioning the University as a leading national and global institution of higher education.
In 1998, he launched an initiative to ensure that the arts would hold a central place in the University experience. Under his leadership, the “Arts Grounds” was established, seeking to bring all of the fine and performing arts programs together into a vibrant new center of University and community life west of Rugby Road in the vicinity of Carr’s Hill.
During Casteen’s tenure, the Arts Grounds grew to comprise several new and renovated facilities, including a restored Fayerweather Hall housing the McIntire Department of Art, an expanded Campbell Hall for the School of Architecture, renovated galleries in The Fralin, the newly constructed Ruffin Hall for studio art, and a new parking garage on Culbreth Road serving the arts area.
In 2010, the Arts Grounds precinct was named for retiring John and Betsy Casteen, as an enduring testament to their dedication to the University and the arts.
Just as the Casteens have brought national attention to the arts at U.Va., they will bring that same focus on the arts in their new roles on the museum’s advisory board.
“We look forward to working with John Casteen, as we continue to build out the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds,” said Jody Kielbasa, vice provost for the arts and director of the Virginia Film Festival. “We are incredibly fortunate to have John’s strategic vision and leadership to guide the advisory board of The Fralin, as we plan the expansion of the museum and work to usher in a new era for the arts at U.Va.”