The Barry Art Museum at Old Dominion University welcomed more than 1,400 people during its grand-opening festivities.
The 24,000-square-foot, two-story facility is the result of a $37 million gift - the largest in University history - of art and funds from Richard and Carolyn Barry.
In his remarks, Old Dominion University President John R. Broderick said he sees the Barry Art Museum as the culmination of a "decade of nurturing the 'Arts in the Village' concept" at the University. Other arts facilities in the area include Gordon Art Galleries, the Goode Theatre, the University Theatre and related rehearsal space, Brock Commons and the Hixon and Barry art buildings.
"All have sent the message loud and clear to potential students and the surrounding community that Old Dominion University is committed in every way to supporting and celebrating the arts," Broderick said.
Broderick attributes the Museum's prominent location, the corner of Hampton Boulevard and W. 43rd Street in Norfolk, to First Lady Kate Broderick. She "stressed repeatedly that this jewel be showcased only on Hampton Boulevard, not at a previously proposed site in a far less visible place. She, of course, was 100 percent right," he said.
He also noted the instrumental roles of David Harnage, ODU's retired chief operating officer, and Robert Wojtowicz, dean of the Graduate School and professor of art history, who along with the First Lady "quietly spent hours upon hours trying to determine how to transform a generous gift offer to what you are about to see today."
Both Barrys were on hand to witness reactions as community members strolled the Museum's four galleries. The first exhibit features art - more than 300 works in all - primarily from the Barrys' personal collection including 20th-century American modernist paintings, international glass sculptures, historic dolls and European automata.
"Over the decades that we've been associated with ODU, Carolyn and I have seen the school mature into a preeminent educational asset for our region and for all of Virginia," Richard Barry said while addressing the crowd. "We hope the Museum will add to that reputation - that it will help students gain an appreciation for art and incorporate it into their lives. That having art so close at hand will ignite in them the same passion for beauty, intelligence and truth that these works have fostered in us."
The Barry Art Museum, led by Executive Director Jutta-Annette Page, will serve as an educational resource for the University and surrounding communities. It is operated by the Old Dominion University Museum Foundation.
"The Barrys' generosity to this project, to this university and to this community is nothing short of extraordinary. They are remarkable people, as evidenced by their selfless donation of an entire collection of art, glass dolls and automata, so others may appreciate those riches," Broderick said. "It surely wasn't easy to say goodbye to the many personal stories and memories that each piece contained. Yet Richard and Carolyn know that the museum will now become a home-away-from-home for them."
The Barry Art Museum is now open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and weekends noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free. The Museum is located at 1075 W. 43rd Street, Norfolk, Va. For more information, go to barryartmuseum.odu.edu or call (757) 683-6200.