The Northern Arizona University Art Museum is located on the university’s campus in Flagstaff, Arizona. The museum is a teaching institution that collects contemporary art and offers educational programming for the benefit of students at the university as well as the public. Five galleries at the museum include three galleries for the permanent collection and two for temporary exhibits.
The Marguerite Hettel Weiss Collection includes art and furniture belonging to the late educator and collector. Mrs. Weiss was a high school math teacher who studied art at the University of Cincinnati. Her collection includes approximately 500 paintings, sculpture, furniture, silver, and china from around the world as well as works by Native American and Southwestern artists. The museum recently received a donation of over 200 objects, including Asian art and artifacts that are thousands of years old. A collection of Spanish and Mexican works includes framed work by Picasso, Diego Rivera, Salvador Dali, and Francisco Goya. The bulk of the collection consists of 18th-century works through the present day. In the last several years, the museum has been working hard at professional accreditation through the strategic acquisition of contemporary art. A 2015 exhibit of works in the permanent collection highlighted newly acquired pieces from over 50 artists. The museum is housed in Old Main, the oldest building on the campus of Northern Arizona University.
History: Old Main, home of the Northern Arizona University Art Museum, was the first of the NAU campus buildings and was built in 1894. The Richardsonian Romanesque-style building was designed by Los Angeles-based architects Brown and Fisher and built from locally quarried Moenkopi sandstone. Once completed, the building stood empty for many years; originally meant to serve as a reform school for the “vicious youth” of Arizona, the program never got off the ground. Years later, the site was destined to become an insane asylum, but leaders from Flagstaff intervened with a plan to use the building as an educational institution instead. In 1899 the first classes were held there for the Northern Arizona Normal School. Old Main has since been home to classrooms, laboratories, and offices. Eventually, it was used as a temporary men’s dormitory for Arizona State College. Northern Arizona University acquired the building when it was no longer needed by the state college and in 1989 it was converted to house the NAU Art Museum and administrative offices. It is the best-preserved example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture in the state of Arizona.
Ongoing Programs and Education: The museum operates an outreach program for the public schools of Arizona. The program provides 3-hour training sessions for public school teachers who would like to bring their students on field trips to the museum. The programming prepares the teachers for the children’s visit and allows them to offer in-depth programming that expands their understanding of the current exhibits. In addition to acting as a teaching and research resource for students at the University of Northern Arizona, the museum offers student employment opportunities.
Past and Future Exhibits: The museum will open the 2017 school year with Abstract/Arabesque/Analog: Finding And Expressing Structure In The Work Of Eliza Au. Ms. Au is a sculptor whose work explores structure, pattern, and architecture. Return: Marshall Maude in USA opens in October of 2017, and the show contrasts the history of ceramics with the new technologies and processes of today. Past exhibits have included Stranger in These Strange Parts: Recent Paintings by Tracy Stuckey. Stuckey’s work is inspired by iconic images of the American West and how their historic romanticization manifests in today’s pop culture. Additional past exhibits include A Subjective Archeology: Recent Works by John O’Connell. O’Connell’s mixed media works reference historical materials and events, but are all newly created with no actual history. The works as viewers to question what is real, remembered, or fictional. Rock, Paper, Binder Clips was a show of the assemblages of artist Kathryn Martin. Martin is a Wisconsin-based artist who makes carefully constructed sculptures out of everyday overlooked objects.
What’s Nearby: The Beasley Gallery on the second floor of the University’s Performing and Fine Arts building offers a home for Bachelor of Fine Arts students to showcase their work, specifically their final exhibitions. The gallery is also host to annual School of Art faculty shows as well as juried shows of artwork by local high school students.
620 S. Knoles Dr., Flagstaff, AZ 86011, website, Phone: 928-523-3471