Anderson Gallery to close in 2015

Anderson Gallery has been VCU’s premier art gallery since it opened in 1930. Pictured above is Bohyun Yoon’s Neighbors exhibit.

Ben Simon
Contributing Writer

Ending an era, a VCUarts staple will close its doors upon the completion of the Institute for Contemporary Art.

The Anderson Gallery will close in 2015, said director Ashley Kistler. Exhibits are scheduled through 2014. There are currently no plans for the gallery after it closes, Kistler said.

“(The gallery) has played a really important role in the evolution of VCUarts,” Kistler said. “But at this point, it really is the end of one era and the beginning of the next, and the ICA is uniquely suited to make that transition happen.”

Anderson Gallery was founded in 1930 by Colonel Abraham Archibald Anderson, who believed Richmond would one day become home to a thriving artistic community.

It has been both a place for art and literature, serving as VCU’s main library from the mid-1940s until 1970, when it was replaced by James Branch Cabell Library. In the four decades since, it has served as VCU’s premier art gallery, displaying paintings, sculpture, film and other forms of visual media.

The transition from Anderson Gallery to ICA will allow student work, usually only shown in the spring, to be exhibited year-round in the former Richmond Glass Company building, which is undergoing a $2.1 million renovation, Kistler said.

The building, now called the Depot, is located at 814 W. Broad St. It will house classrooms and studio space once fully renovated, providing another place for VCUarts students to work. Combined with the ICA, these two structures will form a new, more modern art gallery complex, she said.

However, the change is proving divisive amongst the student body. While some are praising the modernization, others feel that closing Anderson Gallery is unnecessary.

“I don’t see why we can’t have two (art galleries),” said Jamie Park, a freshman. “I guess it’s good that we have the ICA, because VCU has so many art students … it’s a grey area. The building has been around for so long, it could practically be considered a work of art.”

Art Foundations student Peter Kim said he saw the ICA as an opportunity for students like him to explore a gallery setting. However, he said he doesn’t understand why the two galleries can’t coexist.

“I would think, ‘why not both?’ I think once that question is answered, I’ll be more OK with their decision,” Kim said.

Before it closes, VCUarts plans a celebration to recognize the role Anderson Gallery has played in the arts community, Kistler said.

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