Inside Grounds’ Latest Addition: Artist Mark Dion’s ‘Virginia Curiosity Shop’

Room full floor to ceiling of old items

You might have noticed a new addition to the University of Virginia’s Arts Grounds.

Situated just off Culbreth Road, near Ruffin Hall, the nondescript exterior of the small wooden cabin belies a treasure trove of art inside, all created or found by Ruffin Distinguished Artist-in-Residence Mark Dion. The installation, called the “Virginia Curiosity Shop,” opened Friday.

Dion, who began his residency in 2016 with classes and an exhibition at UVA’s Ruffin Gallery, is inspired by the Renaissance tradition of the “cabinet of curiosities” displaying artifacts gathered worldwide. Much of his work – which has been exhibited in major galleries around the world – features interactive displays or whole rooms of found and created objects, ready for visitors to peruse.

"Mark’s work is simply extraordinary," said Vice Provost for the Arts Jody Kielbasa. "There is such a sense of wonder and discovery in his work as an artist and his stay at UVA has been such a phenomenal opportunity for students to work with and see Mark’s vision realized."