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About Us

Clark Atlanta University Art Museum provides a range of aesthetic and educational experiences for the Clark Atlanta University community and the general public. In serving both the academic goals of the institution and public interests, the museum disseminates knowledge about and stimulates interest in African and African Diaspora art via special exhibitions, programs, and publications developed in-house and in cooperation with other museums and cultural institutions. The exhibitions and related programs are specifically designed to enhance the development of these communities through the collection, preservation, exhibition and interpretation of works of fine art that engage with key art movements and intellectual currents of the 20th and 21st centuries.

A national forum for artists of African descent, Clark Atlanta University Art Museum fosters visual literacy and intellectual engagement for university faculty and students, public school groups, and the community at-large. The museum’s staff offers tours and opportunities for in-depth scholarly research on specific works of art in the permanent collection. In addition, we are a pedagogical resource for undergraduate and graduate courses concerned with sociocultural, psychological, and historical issues related to Africa and the African Diaspora.


 

History 

 From the start of its parent institutions Atlanta University and Clark College, Clark Atlanta University (CAU) has demonstrated a commitment to arts and culture. Actress and alumna Adrienne McNeil Herndon (Atlanta University, 1890) created and led the drama and elocution department in 1895, one of the oldest drama programs. 

CAU’s tradition of fostering the visual arts began in 1942 when exhibition opportunities for artists of color were limited due to segregation. Atlanta University, under the direction of Hale Woodruff, inaugurated the annual Exhibition of Paintings, Prints and Sculpture by Negro Artists of America, later referred to as the Atlanta University Art Gallery, to provide black artists a national forum to exhibit their work. Over the course of three decades, the juried exhibitions presented over 900 artists from across the country to the American public.

 

Overview of events that shaped the development of the Clark Atlanta Unviersity Art Museum and the Permanent Collection.

Date

Event 

1931 

At the invitation of President John Hope, Hale Woodruff joins the Atlanta University faculty to initiate the art program for the Laboratory School.

1933 

Sculptor Elizabeth Prophet joins Woodruff on faculty. Woodruff's art students become affectionately known as the Out House School because of the privies that punctuate their landscapes.

 1942

Harlem Renaissance cultural spokesman Alain Locke gives inaugural address at the first of 29 Atlanta University art annual series -- Exhibitions of Paintings, Sculpture & Prints by Negro Artists of America.

 1950-52

Hale Woodruff paints and installs the Art of the Negro murals for Trevor Arnett Library.

 1959

Atlanta University Exhibition Gallery is named for Catherine Hughes Waddell who donates 81 pieces of contemporary American art to the collection.

 1968

Richard Long initiates African Art collection which is augmented through gifts from several donors: Jerome Furman, Rafe Henderson and Harvey Schreter.

 1969

David Levy contributes works by Jacob Lawerence, Marquerite Zorach & John Marin to the collection. Art collection s recieve gift of 16 paintings by William H. Johnson.

 1970

The last Exhibition of Paintings, Sculpture & Prints by Negro Artists of America occurs.

 1985

Judge Irwin C. Mollison collection is acquired, consisting of paintings and prints by William McKnight Farrow, Archibald Motley and William Eduard Scott.

 1994

Renovation of former library facility, Trevor Arnett to rehouse collection in reading room.

 1995

Bequest received from James Baldwin fine art collection and gift from artist Larry Walker.

 1996

The new gallery reopens in collaboration with the Olympic Arts Festival under its current name Clark Atlanta University Art Galleries.

 1997

Acquired gifts of works by: Lonnie Graham, Bob Tomlinson and Charles Dawson

 1998

Radcliffe Bailey creates and donates Date of Arrival in honor of Hale Woodruff and lineage of professors.
Collection receives artist gift from Helen Cohen and strip quilt from the Tysons, thereby initiating an African American quilt collection.

 1999

Bill Hodges Galleries donate painting by Norman Lewis. Galleries acquire works Willie Jinks, Yusef Bell and Louis Delsarte

 2000

Kathryn and Ken Chenualt donate portfolio of linocuts by Hale Woodruff: Selections from the Atlanta Period 1931-1946. Coreen Jennings donates print by Wilmer Jennings.
Galleries acquire works by Sam Gilliam and Luftee Sabree.

 2001

The works of Mildred Thompson, Stefanie Jackson, Coreen Simpson, Lynn MarshallLinnemeier, Bongi Bengu, Eldizer Cortor, Diane Edison and Susan Ross enter the collection.

2002-2014

The works of Sheila Pree Bright, Lucinda Bunnen, Wille Cole, Jennifer Mack, Thornton Dial, John Dowell, Robin Holder, Larry Rivers, Felrath Hines, Lev T. Mills, Eleanor Neal, Mario Petrirena, Robert Reid, John Riddle, Yanique Norman, Kevin Sipp, Phoenix Savage, and Mildred Thompson enter the collection.

2015

The Board of CAU approves changing the name from Clark Atlanta University Art Galleries to Clark Atlanta University Art Museum