About the Museums

About the Museums

University Chapel & Museum

A National Historic Landmark, the Chapel opened in 1868 during Robert E. Lee’s tenure as 11th president of then Washington College. Non-denominational and unconsecrated, the Chapel housed an auditorium, administrative offices, a YMCA, and a library. In 1928, a museum was installed in the basement. Today, that museum includes an exhibition on the history of the university, a changing exhibition gallery, and a museum shop. Visitors also see Lee’s 1870 president’s office and Edward Valentine’s Recumbent Lee statue.

University Chapel Visitation Policies

The university's stated Facilities Use Policy has said, and continues to say, that individuals or groups not affiliated with the university may not use our campus as a platform for their own personal or political displays or statements. This includes, but is not limited to, historical or replica uniforms.

Visitors will be asked to open large bags or purses for inspection by the Public Safety Officer on duty. Additionally, all visitors to campus must comply with the University weapons policy, which prohibits the use, possession and storage of all firearms, dangerous weapons, explosives or other dangerous articles on all properties owned, leased or otherwise controlled by Washington and Lee University. Law enforcement officers duly authorized to carry such instruments are accepted.

University policy does not allow flags on campus. Individuals or groups not affiliated with the university may not use our campus as a platform for their own personal or political displays or statements. The display of the Confederate battle flag or uniform without clear historical or memorial context is antithetical to Washington and Lee's goal of inclusiveness. Flagpoles are also dangerous to the museum collection.

The University Chapel staff wants to ensure that you enjoy your visit to the Chapel and are able to share the experience. In order to make it a pleasant experience for all our visitors and to protect the parts of our collection that are under copyright, our photography policy must be observed.

Reeves Museum of Ceramics

The Reeves showcases one of the country’s largest and finest collections of ceramics. Hundreds of pieces of Asian, European, and American ceramics spanning some 4,000 years tell stories of design, technology, and trade and illustrate how people drank, dined and decorated their homes over the past five centuries. The collection is on display in the Reeves and in the adjoining Watson Galleries and is used in a wide range of university classes including art history, chemistry, and politics.

Also located in the Reeves is the Elisabeth S. Gottwald Gallery, which highlights the work of Louise Herreshoff Reeves (1876-1967), an early-20th century American painter noted for her Impressionist and Fauvist works.

Photography of works is based on the exhibit. Please check with the staff member on site before photographing works.

Watson Galleries and Japanese Tearoom

The Watson contains a permanent display of Chinese and Japanese ceramics as well as two changing exhibit galleries that showcase rotating selections from the fine arts and ceramics collections. In addition, the Watson houses Senshin'an (洗心庵 or "Clearing-the-Mind Abode") an authentic Japanese tearoom. To learn more about the tea room and how to schedule a tea ceremony demonstration, please visit the Senshin'an website.

Photography of works is based on the exhibit. Please check with the staff member on site before photographing works.

Museums at Washington and Lee University

Our Mission

The Museums at W&L advance learning through direct engagement with collections, stimulate appreciation of global cultures, and inspire leadership in the arts and sciences.