The Daura Museum: The Hidden Gem on Campus

Picture of Dr. Paul McClure giving a lecture to his Sociological Theory in the Daura Museum of Art on Sept. 3, 2020. Photo taken by Hunter Epperson 

Hunter Epperson ~ Staff Writer

To me, nothing beats the feeling I get than seeing campus in early October. The beautiful towering trees beaming over me as their leaves turn into beautiful shades of brown, red, orange, and yellow.

 The sound of crinkling leaves below my feet as I walk towards work through the Dell. The feeling of the crisp cool fall mornings tickling my nose, and the feeling of warmth of my nice comfortable warm jacket. 

To me, nothing beats the view of campus covered with beautiful autumn leaves, the red chairs in front of Hopwood Hall, and other campus buildings like Snidow Chapel. 

With that being said, others and I will admit, we often fail to pay attention to or notice the beauty of Dillard Hall in the corner of the Dell. I will admit, I often see past Dillard Hall or often forget about this hall until I creep up or walk past it. However, not until two weeks ago, I learned the true beauty of this building after my Sociological Theory took a “field trip” to the Daura Museum, and I was able to meet with Laura Cole. 

During the “field trip” for Sociological Theory, not only did my classmates and I had a discussion with Dr. Paul McClure about some of the pieces, in connection to the piece of Sociological Theory we read the night before, discussing how our sociological backgrounds not only shape our perceptions towards the way we see the world, but also how we perceive art.

Personally, I really enjoyed this experience because I was able to see the new exhibit “Forced To Flee”, which demonstrates the hardships of refugees that are forced to flee due to famine, war, and socioeconomic crises. Personally, I really enjoyed the exhibit not because of the art itself, but the emotions it made me feel. The lecture from Dr. Paul McClure also gave my class a new perception of understanding and looking at art. After the lecture, I had the opportunity to sit down with Laura Cole to ask questions about the museum and the upcoming plans for the museum. 

According to Cole, “The Daura Museum at the University of Lynchburg was established in 1974 as the University’s art gallery. The gallery was dedicated in 1990 as the Daura Gallery in memory of the Catalan-American painter Pierre Daura (1896-1976) and his wife, Louise Blair Daura.

 At its February 2020 meeting, the University’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved the renaming of the Daura Museum to the Daura Museum of Art. 

This came about as the Museum continues to grow and thrive as an active academic unit that supports the mission of University of Lynchburg by being a resource for teaching through the collection, care, interpretation, and exhibition of works of art, and to enrich the cultural life of University constituents.  

The collection of works by European and American artists, African art, and world cultures now includes more than 2,500 paintings, drawings, prints, and sculpture. (This information can be found on our website.)” 

Additionally, “At the end of 2019, we received a donation of 63 original photographs, facilitated by Summit Art Advisory, LLC, on behalf of a group of prominent collectors. Included in this donation are 30 works by Peter Turnely, which are currently on view in the exhibition “Peter Turnley: Photojournalist.” Other artists whose works were included in the donation are Joyce Tenneson, Ralph Gibson, and others. Our other two current exhibitions are Forced to Flee and Catalan Artist Pierre Daura as Exile, Refugee, Naturalized American Citizen

Forced to Flee is a travelling global exhibition on loan to us from Studio Art Quilts Associates, Inc. (SAQA) a nonprofit organization of more than 3,700 artists, curators, collectors, and art professionals from around the world, whose mission is to promote the art quilt. Catalan Artist Pierre Daura as Exile, Refugee, Naturalized American Citizen features works from our permanent collection and is curated by Teresa Gunter ’20, developed from her Westover Honors thesis of the same title.”

After asking some basic questions regarding the museum, I was able to ask some more personal questions regarding her perceptions of the overall pieces such as “what has been the overall impressions and feedback you have received in regard to the new pieces of art?”, “ what is your favorite piece of artwork in the museum, and why?”, “how often does the museum get a new exhibit? “any ideas when a new exhibit will come to the museum; if so, when?”, “ any ideas what the next exhibit might be about?”, and “what piece of artwork, to you, demonstrates the most emotional appeal, and how?”

In closing, Cole said, “Overall, we have had very positive feedback about the newly acquired Turnley works. They are incredibly powerful images, and I think visitors have really felt that and appreciated that.”

She also stated “My favorite work that is currently on view would probably be Turnley’s Kosovar Alabanian Refugee – it shows a man clearly experiencing a lot of raw emotion, holding up two photos of his little boys. 

During a recent class activity with the exhibit, a student did a little bit of digging and discovered that the man in the photo was eventually reunited with his wife and kids. There is so much pain and tragedy in a lot of the works on view right now, so I love knowing that this one person shown was able to be reunited with his family.”

Furthermore, “We change our exhibitions a few times a year, with a few exhibitions a semester. We will have a new exhibition up in the Dillard Lobby Gallery where we currently have a selection of photogravures from the collection. It is Sign of the Time: the Great American Political Poster 1844-2012, and it will be on view until the end of the semester. We will also have a new exhibit in the main galleries next semester, looking at Indonesian Shadow Puppets – more details to come!” 

Very lastly, “Of the works on view for me, Turnley’s Kosovar Alabanian Refugee has that emotional appeal, but also They Are Also Us by Eunhee Lee in Forced to Flee. It is such a stark reminder that although the refugee crisis may seem far removed, it affects individuals that are just like you and me.”

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