This spring, the UVA Art Museum was renamed the Fralin Museum of Art to honor Cynthia and former Board of Visitors member W. Heywood Fralin (Col '62). The Fralins announced their intention to donate their 40-piece collection of American art, which includes works by John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassat and Robert Henri, to the museum. It is the largest single gift of art in the University's history.
The Fralins say they were drawn to the museum for its focus on objects-based research—more than 2,000 students and 50 classes from 19 departments worked directly with pieces in the museum's permanent collection in the past year, according to Nicole Anastasi, the museum's assistant registrar.
To expand its outreach, the museum recently welcomed art historian Jordan Love as its first full-time academic curator. Love earned a PhD in art history in May from Columbia University, where she focused on medieval art and architecture. Previously, she worked as a curator at Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, Mass.
"I see an opportunity to connect more with anthropology, given our large collection of Native American, African and Oceanic art in the permanent collection," Love says. "I am also working with the medical school on developing a visual arts analysis program—a new initiative that has been developed in medical schools around the country to improve visual skills and diagnostic training." Similar programs exist at Yale and Cornell, where medical students have studied art at the Yale Center for British Art and the Frick Collection, respectively, to improve their powers of observation.
For Love, the most important part of her job is making sure students and professors have access to the art itself. "People connect on a deeper level with artworks when they're seeing them in person," she says. For instance, the Fralin collection features works by major American artists and will provide American Studies scholars with easy access to art ranging from impressionism to urban realism. "Not everyone gets the opportunity to go to the big museums in Washington and New York," Love says. "Art education starts locally."