Exhibits and Events

Exhibits and Events

Museums Reopen to University on Feb. 26

The Museums are temporarily closed to the public, but admission is open to current W&L students, faculty, and staff with proof of daily attestation. Reserve your timed-entry visit!


Current Exhibits

This temporary exhibition presents paintings by artist Evelyn Dawson (1909-1990), who called her works “Inscapes.” Each painting will immerse visitors in a vibrant spectrum of color, illuminating Dawson’s exploration of internal and natural worlds. Visitors will be able to take time for reflection and meditation through a pairing of paintings with music curated by students in partnership with wluLex. The exhibition, located in the Watson Galleries, is part of the Museums’ mindfulness initiative, and supports the 20th anniversary of the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program at W&L.

The exhibit “Breaking the Chains: Ceramics and the Abolition Movement,” sponsored by the Reeves Collection, features several pieces of anti-slavery ceramics used to support the cause of abolition throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These pieces are taken from the Reeves Collection as well as loaned from institutions such as Colonial Williamsburg and Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library.

We are pleased to announce the opening of the new online exhibition To See Color First, a cross-departmental effort to showcase the work of Louise Hereshoff Eaton, whose pieces make up a prominent portion of the Art Collection at Washington & Lee.

Organized by Clover Archer, director of the Staniar Gallery; co-curated by Patricia Hobbs, senior curator of art for the Museums at W&L; and Tracy Bernabo, curator of Try-me Gallery (Richmond, VA), this online exhibition and its companion digital catalog turn a spotlight on the life and work of a relatively unknown painter thanks to the meticulous research of the curators and their students. Even while campus is closed to the public, we hope that the virtual experience of the Herreshoff project will provide a welcome, enriching experience for all those interested in art and culture.

In 1897, upon his retirement as 12th president of Washington and Lee University, Custis Lee gave to the institution his 1772 family portrait of George Washington as Colonel in the Virginia Regiment by Charles Willson Peale. It became part of the university “portrait gallery,” created in 1875 and located in the University Chapel (now Lee Chapel). The posthumous portrait of General Lee by Theodore Pine, purchased in 1907, was added to the gallery between 1911 and 1929. All portraits were removed in 1962 during the chapel’s restoration, and only those of Lee and Washington returned in 1963.

The university replaced these historic paintings in October 2018 with portraits that are contemporary to the namesakes’ distinct contributions: the “Athenaeum” version of President George Washington’s portrait by Gilbert Stuart painted first in 1796 when Washington gave shares of James River canal stock to Liberty Hall Academy, and a portrait of Robert E. Lee painted by J. Reid in 1866 when Lee served as the 11th president of Washington College.

This exhibition features Washington’s portrait by Peale and Lee’s portrait by Pine and reveals some of the hidden elements in these two iconic portraits.

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.