CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia announces that historically underrepresented artists will be a focus in at least half of its exhibitions moving forward. This action is the result of recent data showing that the majority of artists featured in U.S. museum exhibitions continue to lack diversity well into the 21st century. The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia, an iconic and distinguished university that continues to confront the truth and impact of its complicated past on its community, is uniquely positioned to take a stand. The museum defines underrepresented artists as those with diverse racial, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, Indigenous, disability/ability, socioeconomic, geographic, religious and/or age identities.
“I enrolled in my first museum studies class in 1999; unfortunately, the conversation about the lack of diversity in museums has remained much the same. As a director, I’m in a position now to do something about it,” said Matthew McLendon, J. Sanford Miller Family Director at the University of Virginia’s Fralin Museum of Art.
In setting this goal, which is included in the museum’s 2020-25 strategic plan, the institution has the support of the University, its advisory council and its staff. “World cultures, in all their richness and diversity, opened their doors to me during childhood visits to museums. Now that I am in a leadership position in the museum field, and coming from my experience as a member of the LGBTQ+ community that understands the importance of visibility, I feel a responsibility to commit our institution to embrace inclusion and welcome diversity in all its forms on a significant scale through our exhibitions programming. If we truly believe that museums should be welcoming to all, then we must ensure that our art and artists reflect that,” continued McLendon.
On the Fralin’s current exhibitions schedule are Otherwise, on view now through Jan. 5, 2020, which explores the influence of LGBTQ+ culture on visual art on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, and The Inside World: Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Memorial Poles, opening Jan. 24, 2020, a partnership with the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection also at UVA. Recent projects have included an installation by contemporary artist Vanessa German, an examination of Georgia O’Keeffe’s watercolors produced during her time at the University of Virginia in the early 20th century, and an exhibition of work by contemporary Native American artists in which they reflected on historic Native art from the collection.
In addition, the Fralin has made several strategic acquisitions over the last two years, including works by Zanele Muholi and Martine Gutierrez, the first non-binary and first transgender Latinx contemporary artists represented in the museum’s collection along with donated works by Suzanne McClelland and Native American artists Rick Bartow and Debbie Clashin.
“The Fralin Museum of Art’s diversity objectives underscore the University of Virginia’s values of excellence and inclusion and will serve as an outstanding example of integrity in action for students, faculty and staff,” said Jody Kielbasa, vice provost for the arts at the University of Virginia.
“This public statement by The Fralin demonstrates its commitment as a leading and valuable partner within the University advancing our shared goals of diversity, equity and inclusion in a powerful and visible way,” said Catherine Spear, associate vice president, UVA’s Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights.
About The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia
Established in 1935, the University of Virginia Art Museum became the Fralin Museum of Art in 2012 in honor of a bequest of American art and service to the university by Cynthia and W. Heywood Fralin. The Museum maintains a collection of nearly 14,000 works of art, including American and European painting, works on paper, and sculpture from the 15th through the 20th centuries; art from the ancient Mediterranean; Asian art; and Native and ancient American art. Housed in the historic Bayly Building near the Rotunda on the landmark UVA campus, the Fralin is dedicated to serving the widest possible audiences and engaging comprehensive visual education to enhance its visitors’ understanding of world cultures. Throughout the year the Museum presents a diverse selection of exhibitions, programs, research and events that bring the university and broader community together.
For more information, visit http://uvafralinartmuseum.virginia.edu.