U.Va. Art Museum Features 'Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village: The Creation of An Architectural Masterpiece' beginning Sept. 12

August 28, 2009

August 28, 2009 - "Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village" will be the fall 2009 exhibition at the University of Virginia Art Museum. As part of the communitywide celebration of the centennial of Carr's Hill, the president's residence at U.Va., the museum will present an updated showing of the groundbreaking exhibition, which was first staged at the museum in 1993.

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"Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village" will have on view original drawings, prints and letters that Jefferson exchanged with his colleagues as the plan for his iconic Academical Village took shape.

The exhibition also will feature a selection of paintings, drawings and decorative objects that portray Jefferson and the men who helped give concrete form to his grand vision.

Since the original exhibition, Richard Guy Wilson - its curator, architectural historian and University professor - has continued his unique research, uncovering new information that paints an even more nuanced picture of the University's earliest development and the people involved in its construction.

"Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village" and its associated programs promise to present exciting opportunities to reassess Jefferson's architectural accomplishments and to examine those from fresh perspectives.

The blog, "Building a Living Legacy: Jefferson's Academical Village," which was launched in February, features three sections that expand the ideas described in the exhibition. In the section "The Detectives," Wilson and others describe their impressions of the Lawn and the investigative process behind the exhibition's development.

In "The Builders," more than 300 names uncovered by Wilson are presented. Some are listed with the tasks they performed; others are identified as indentured servants, while still others are identified as enslaved. Since the blog's launching two additional worker names have been uncovered. An interactive section asks that readers with information about anyone on these lists upload their information to the site.

The final section of the blog, "The Legacy," highlights locations that have adopted the Academical Village's unique architecture into their own designs. Again, there is an interactive component to this section as readers can load their own images of Academical Village clones.

On Oct. 13, Wilson will present a lunchtime talk about the development of the Lawn. Additionally, the museum will offer special Saturday tours on Oct. 17, Nov. 14 and Dec. 19, from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday tours are available by reservation only. To make reservations, contact the museum's education department at 434-243-2050.

The museum will also premiere the 15-minute film "Rotunda," by William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Music Judith Shatin. In the film, sounds and images recorded over the course of a year are presented as a single day. Shatin will discuss the film on Sept. 12 at 2 p.m.

Finally, in collaboration with the Harrison/Small Special Collections Library the museum will host "Jefferson, Palladio and the Fine Arts in America," a two-day symposium of leading and emerging scholars from several disciplines, including architecture, art, music and history, as well as museum curators, historic preservationists, librarians and archivists.

The symposium, scheduled for Nov. 20 and 21, aims to showcase current scholarship while also promoting opportunities for new conversations between scholars, architects, museum curators, librarians, archivists, preservationists and conservationists, who together could identify new research directions for the study of Jefferson and the arts.

On the first day of the symposium, scholars will address Palladio's works and their effect on Jefferson's approach to fine arts. The second day will be devoted to investigations of the development of architecture and the fine arts at the University of Virginia after Jefferson.

The illustrated catalog "Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village: The Creation of an Architectural Masterpiece," which accompanied the original exhibition, has been updated and includes an expanded essay by Wilson. The catalog, which will be available in September, is distributed by the University of Virginia Press.

Admission to the U.Va. Art Museum is free, though it is currently closed for the summer. When it reopens Sept. 12, the museum's public hours will be Tuesdays through Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. For information, visit www.virginia.edu/artmuseum.

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Notes to Editors: Press images are available here. To arrange interviews with Richard Guy Wilson, call Jane Ford of the U.Va. Media Relations Office at 434-924-4298 or e-mail her at jford@virginia.edu.