Hampton University Museum Director Vanessa Thaxton-Ward takes you on a virtual tour of one of the most impressive of collections of multicultural art in America. Founded in 1868, the museum is the nation’s oldest African-American museum and the oldest museum in Virginia.
The holdings represent the first assemblage of African art collected by African-American William H. Shepperd and it is the first institutional collection of work by African-American artists. The more than 12,000 objects and works of art are representative of cultures from around the world.
The museum’s focus turned to the fine arts in 1894 with the acquisition of Henry Ossawa Tanner’s The Banjo Lesson. Works by Jacob Lawrence, John Biggers, Samella Lewis and Elizabeth Catlett are also among the collection. The museum’s art holdings of the Harlem Renaissance period are among the nation’s finest.
The museum has one of the most exceptional collections of African, Native-American and African-American art in the United States and is the oldest African-American museum in the country. The museum is also renowned for its world-class collection of contemporary art by African-American artists.