Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts, Tallahassee, United States

The Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts is a member of Florida Association of Museums, Florida Art Museum Directors’ Association, Florida Cultural Action Alliance, Southeastern Museums’ Conference and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

The mission of the Museum is twofold: to enrich the university and the community by exhibiting works of art which expand the understanding of art today and of the past and to serve as a teaching instrument for art instruction, particularly by holding exhibitions of informational value to students and the general public and by providing student artists with an arena to exhibit their work.

Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts’s projects ranges from the vigorous work of regional artists and students to national-impact, scholarly presentations. The Museum is a vital and colorful place where scholarship and creativity abound in the season calendar; there is never a dull moment, programs are a spectrum of media and points of view, and the museum is a cheerful and welcoming place to visit.

The purpose of the Museum is twofold: to enrich the university and the community by exhibiting works of art which expand the understanding of art today and of the past and to serve as a teaching instrument for art instruction, particularly by holding exhibitions of informational value to students and the general public and by providing student artists with an arena to exhibit their work.

The Museum of Fine Arts, a division of the College of Fine Arts at Florida State University, at 16,000 sq ft. with 9000 sq. ft. of exhibition space and a permanent collection of over 6000 objects, is a major art exhibition space and an integral part of the Tallahassee community. At the time of its formation in 1950, it occupied one small room and was administered by faculty on a volunteer basis who operated without specific funding. Spurred on particularly by the move in 1970 into the Fine Arts Building, a complex that houses Fallon Theatre as well, and by the establishment of the School of Visual Arts in 1973, the growth of the Museum has been significant and steady. The staff consists of five full-time employees, quarter-time employees who are academic interns, and a rotating population of student volunteers.

The choice of quality exhibitions plays a dominant role in the Museum’s efforts to reach its goals with respect to the general public and the university community. The lower level exhibitions run concurrently with upper gallery changing exhibitions. The scope ranges from national-impact, scholarly presentations of works never previously exhibited, to the work of regional artists or students. This balance between response to the artistic community and leadership in treating art in a consciously educational way reflects the Museum’s perception of its role in the region. In the last decade the number of critically valid exhibitions has risen, as has national distribution of research in the form of catalogues.

MoFA has a history of exciting exhibitions—from lush painting to dynamic sculpture, from challenging installations to provocative photography. Every season begins with an international competitive exhibition that embraces all media and every semester closes with the youth and exuberance of the graduating-artist exhibitions. In past years we have shown an honor roll of contemporary artists—James Rosenquist, Duane Hanson, James Turrell, Judy Chicago to name a few—and thematic exhibitions have looked at topics from gun imagery in our society to the powerful expressions of Latina and Black women artists. We have examined the contact zone of Anglo and Native American cultures, the mystical side of Haitian folk painting, and the unsophisticated but intense works of outsider artists. The future promises exhibitions of equal caliber and interest.

The Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts is a member of Florida Association of Museums, Florida Art Museum Directors’ Association, Florida Cultural Action Alliance, Southeastern Museums’ Conference and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

The FSU Museum of Fine Arts’ permanent collection and holdings consist of over 6,000 objects. Created predominantly through generous donations, the collection is comprised of works ranging from pre-Columbian pottery to contemporary art. The collection contains artwork in a wide variety of media and includes drawings, paintings, prints, sculpture, photography, mixed media, fiber arts, crafts and applied arts. Equally noteworthy is the collection of archaeological and anthropological objects. Included within this packet are section dividers that discuss details about individual collections within the larger collection of the Museum.

FSU MOFA’s Object Guides provide educational information about pieces within the museum’s collection. Each Object Guide has been developed through the scholarly research of university students. Because the scope of the collection includes works in almost every medium, students from university departments as diverse as art history, art education, anthropology, history, and humanities have enjoyed the opportunity to research and develop Object Guides. As research continues Object Guides will be distributed annually to participating school teachers.

In addition to the traditional data about the selected item, each Object Guide introduces biographical, art historical, referential, and contextual subject matter. Equally useful are two interrelated lessons plans—linked to the Florida Department of Education’s Sunshine State Standards—one incorporating a related art activity while the other encourages a conceptually enriching artistic understanding. We suggest teachers use these Object Guides both in the museum as well as in the classroom. The Museum extends the opportunity to view the original object. Interested teachers are invited to contact us to arrange a student fieldtrip to the museum.

The object guide program was originally developed and coordinated by Alison Schaeffler-Murphy.

The Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts’ painting collection represents works in acrylic, oil, and watercolor. The bulk of the collection includes works by recognized artists such as Helen Allyngham, Trevor Bell, Ray Burgaff, Arthur Deshais, Ray Hurst, Mark Messersmith, William Walmsley, Purvis Young, and Karl Zerbe—predominantly American 20th Century artists. The collection, however, does include 17th Century Flemish genre work, Dutch landscape paintings, as well as 18th and 19th century oils by distinguished artists, including, Eugene Delacroix, Jose Maria Sert, and William Hunt. One unusual donation of paintings—a part of the Ball Collection—includes genre paintings discovered in a destroyed artist’s studio by a soldier during World War II.

Mixed Media & Textiles:
Both the mixed media collection and the textiles collection at FSU’s Museum of Fine Arts are broad in scope. As a result of generous donations from the non-profit organization Through the Flower, the museum has in its collection six Judy Chicago textile pieces from the Birth Project. The textiles collection also features works from other countries. Included in this selection are Japanese furisode, Chilean arpilleras, as well as textiles from Nigeria, Pakistan, and other cultures of the world. The mixed media collection includes works from FSU art faculty professors Mark Messersmith and George Blakely as well as pieces by noted artist and author Hiram Williams. Other mixed media works include those by Franklin Adams, Francoise Baudoin d’Ajoux, Drennan Browne, and James Prez, to name a few.

Graphic Arts:
The FSU MoFA has a wide variety of drawings and prints with a sizeable selection focusing on the graphic arts of the 20th century. Works by Stephen Cefalo and William Walsmley as well as political cartoons by artists like Steve Breen and Matt Handelsman are included in the drawing collection. However, the print collection holds a number of works by 17th century artist Jacques Callot, 18th century artist Gionvanni Batista Piranesi, and Francisco Goya (Disasters of War). Other artists presented in the print collection are Honore Daumier, Miro, Rembrandt, and Andy Warhol. The Kirkpatrick Collection contains Night Scene after the Rain on Kagurazaka Dori (1929) by Yoshida Hiroshi, a series of 67 ukyio-e prints which depicts the woodblock print process. The Walsmley Collection, named after William and Dorothy Walmsley, contains over 350 works of art. William Walsmley was an artist and an avid collector of prints. This collection contains works from the 16th to the 20th century by the aforementioned Jacques Callot and Francisco Goya, Salvador Dali and many others. Other collections that include prints are the Ball Collection, Cranbrook Print Collection, Graf/Nause Collection, London Arts Group Collection, Mason Collection, Molitch Collection, Prasse-Bittel Collection and the Seymour Collection.

The FSU MoFA’s permanent collection has a wide variety of photographs. The collection covers photography as far back as the daguerreotype, the first photographic process. The Palm Press Collection alone presents a quick history of photography: a daguerreotype, a tintype, an ambrotype, three albumen prints, a stereograph, a platinum print, and more. One of the most notable photographs in the collection is a Man Ray photolithograph titled Rayogram. Other artists represented in FSU MoFA’s photograph collection are Judy Chicago, Jerry Uelsman, George Blakely, Larry Clark, Ewing Galloway and Andy Warhol. The Shapiro Collection consists of 109 photographs by Arthur Taussig and includes c-prints, Polaroid, and color photographs, most dating to the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Archaeological Objects:
This section of the FSU MOFA Permanent Collection contains artworks of archeological, anthropological, or ethnographic interest. For example, pottery and textiles that could be classified as applied art are instead placed in this category because they belong to cultures that are no longer extant and thus are rich in historical value. Other objects, such as religious figures or statuary, are placed in this section because of their function. Often cultures differ in what they consider to be art. Some of the African religious figures, for example, could possibly be considered more utilitarian or sacred than artistic in nature by their home culture, whereas a western culture such as ours relates to them as art objects.

Contained in this section are the Carter, Chezem African, Mooney, and Northwest Coast Native American Basketry Collections. The Museum holds the Carter Collections for the FSU Anthropology Department, which contain objects from ancient Peruvian and some Central American cultures. The Chezem Collection contains mostly objects from the Ashanti, a major ethnic group from Ghana, West Africa. Before the advent of European colonization, the Ashanti Empire stretched from central Ghana to present-day Togo and Côte d’Ivoire. Today, the Ashanti monarchy continues as one of the constitutionally protected, sub-national traditional states within the Republic of Ghana. Represented in the Mooney Collection are works of ancient Mesoamerica as well as some African statuary and masks.

Craft and Applied Arts:
This section of the FSU MOFA Permanent Collection contains information and lesson plans based on various types of craft and applied art, meaning art objects that were not necessarily intended for display or that have functional or quotidian uses aside from their aesthetic value. This can range from pottery and glass to fans, shoes, stationery, and various other objects.

Represented in this section are works from the Cressman, Mason, and Seymour Collections. Donated by the family in the 1970s, the Cressman Collection contains various pieces of glass and porcelain from popular companies such as Wedgwood, Meissen, Limoges, and other lesser known sources, in addition to pieces of Asian origin. The Mason Collection honors Penelope Mason, who wrote the authoritative survey of Japanese art from prehistory to the 20th century. It is a large grouping mostly of fine art objects, but also of a Japanese wedding chest and a wood bowl by the artist Mark Lindquist. Originally donated in 1984 to Strozier Library’s Special Collections, the Seymour Collection is a large group including Chinese and Japanese artworks like prints and paintings, but also various decorative objects—such ephemera as a miniature wooden pagoda and toy rickshaws, porcelain, books, calligraphy materials, and dolls.

The Museum of Fine Arts sculpture collection consists of predominantly 19th and 20th century works. The collection includes a selection of Remington bronzes donated in 1994 by Jim and Biddie Kirk, two Mark Lindquist sculpted wood reliefs, work by Florida Artists Hall of Fame honoree Doris Leeper, and works by former Florida State University art professors Ed Love and William Walmsley. Additionally, in our collection are sculptures by Don Bonham, Ralph Hurst, Ray Klausen, Judith Page, and Adam Staus, to name a few.

The Artists’ League:
The Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts Artists’ League (FSU MoFA AL) was formed over two decades ago as an informal group of local artists. The purpose was to share information and to assist each other in locating galleries and/or exhibitions where League members could promote their work. In addition, the Artists’ League is a special membership of the FSU Museum of Fine Arts. As such, the Museum and the League provide mutual support for each other. Currently, The Artists’ League has over 160 members.