Lynchburg art museums and galleries come alive with unique exhibits
By Brandy Centolanza
Whether you admire paintings, drawings, photographs, or sculptures, art enthusiasts will have a field day in Lynchburg with the variety of exhibits the city’s galleries and museums have to offer. Lynchburg’s museums showcase thousands of pieces spanning centuries as well as cultures around the world. Head out to explore, educate, and enrich yourself.
Be sure to check each museum’s website before you go to find the current crop of exhibits, operating hours, and covid-19 safety protocols.
The Maier Museum of Art
The Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College is home to a collection of American art from the 19th through the 21st centuries. The museum routinely rotates exhibits to keep things fresh. Exhibits such as Saints and Sin: Selections from the Permanent Collection by Black Artists are intended to reflect the artistic talents of all Americans. The museum building itself is steeped with American history. In 1951, the National Gallery of Art (NGA) selected the college campus as the site of a confidential storage facility in the event of a national emergency. The college agreed to maintain the facility for the NGA for 50 years and to keep silent about the project, dubbed Project Y. The project “was a product of Cold War fears,” explains Laura McManus, Curator of Education. “The National Gallery of Art never used the structure for storage of art treasures but the building retains elements of its secret past.” The Maier Museum of Art also hosts an annual Exhibition of Contemporary Art, the longest-running exhibition of contemporary art on an academic campus in the country.
1 Quinlan Street | maiermuseum.org
Daura Museum of Art
The Daura Museum of Art, named in memory of the Catalan-American painter Pierre Daura and his wife Louisa Blair Daura, opened in 1974 at the University of Lynchburg. The museum houses more than 2,500 paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures representing American, European, and African art and culture. Part of its mission is to help visitors develop an appreciation of visual arts from various time periods and places in order to create citizens who are more globally aware. In addition to its permanent collection, the museum showcases a number of temporary exhibits throughout the academic year. The Daura Museum of Art’s most recent exhibitions included Forced to Flee, an art quilt display about the global refugee crisis; the poster display Sign of the Times: The Great American Political Poster; and a collection of pictures by photojournalist Peter Turnley. The museum also hosted the traveling exhibit Picturing Wonderland: Sir John Tenniel’s illustrations for the Alice Books.
1501 Lakeside Drive | lynchburg.edu
The Lynchburg Museum at the Old Court House
History buffs curious about local history should experience the Lynchburg Museum at the Old Court House. The museum boasts more than 40,000 artifacts and stories from three centuries. The Lynchburg Museum, which sits atop the famed Monument Terrace overlooking downtown and the James River, has six galleries devoted to sharing memories and tales about Lynchburg’s military service, history, architecture, and culture as well as the talents of local artists. Through December 31, 2021, the museum will showcase works commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.
901 Court Street | lynchburgmuseum.org
Legacy Museum of African American History
The Legacy Museum is dedicated to honoring African American heritage and the contributions African Americans made and continue to make in Lynchburg. Open since 2000, the museum has a number of exhibits celebrating African American resiliency, spirit, and culture as well as educational activities and programs. The Legacy Museum recently highlighted the artwork of Heritage High School students through the portrait exhibit Let Your Trumpets Blow, Let Your Might Voice Be Heard. As part of the permanent collection, the painting Lord Plant My Feet on Higher Ground, a piece by Ann van De Graff that is a part of the museum’s permanent collection, depicts local people associated with the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and is worth a look.
403 Monroe Street | legacymuseum.org
The Anne Spencer House & Garden Museum
Lynchburg is also home to The Anne Spencer House & Garden. Anne Spencer was an African American poet and civil rights activist as well as a lover of nature and gardening. Guests can visit her home and garden on Pierce Street, where she lived with her beloved husband, Edward, while raising their family. Visitors will appreciate the aesthetics of the home décor and furniture as well as its history. Meanwhile, Hillside Garden Club has helped maintain Ann Spencer’s historic garden, which Edward built for Anne during their time together.
1313 Pierce Street | annespencermuseum.com
Academy Center of the Arts
The Academy Center of the Arts brings together thousands of locals young and old alike to experience art, culture, and community. The center features the restored Historic Academy of Music Theatre and the Joy & Lynch Christian Warehouse theatre as well as art galleries, art classes, and a pottery studio. Recent exhibits in the Ann White Gallery and the Upfront Gallery featured photographs, paintings, wood sculptures, and mixed media.
600 Main Street | academycenter.org
Riverviews Artspace’s Craddock-Terry Gallery showcases a diverse medium of contemporary artwork by regional, national, and international artists. Riverviews Artspace opened in 2003 in a renovated warehouse that was once used by the Craddock-Terry shoe company and is just down the street from what is now the Craddock Terry Hotel. Riverviews Artspace holds a Juried Art Show each year while highlighting works by local artists each month through the Emerging Arts Series. Local illustrator and actor Abigail Follmer’s Whimsical Wanderings was the most recent display a part of the series.
901 Jefferson Street | riverviews.net
Lynchburg Art Club
Lynchburg Art Club (LAC), one of the oldest art clubs in the country dating back to 1895, features a gallery with a permanent collection of works by famous local artists. Club members also have the opportunity to display original artwork on the first level on a rotating basis. LAC hosts an art show and sale during the holiday season as well as the popular annual Georgia Morgan Civic Art Show, named in honor of Georgia Morgan, a dedicated LAC member from the 1920s. LAC holds the Lynchburg Art Festival each September.
1011 Rivermont Avenue | lynchburgartclub.com
Want more inspiration? Check out these galleries & fine art shops:
Brandy Centolanza is a freelance writer who covers health, family travel, and the hospitality industry.
She writes from her Virginia home surrounded by her husband of 20 years and their two teens, three cats,
and a bearded dragon named Craig.
See More of her work HERE