Founded in 1868, the Hampton University Museum is the nation’s oldest African American museum and one of the oldest museums in Virginia. With galleries dedicated to African American, African, Native American, Asian and Pacific art and artifacts. The museum contains more than 9,000 objects representing cultures and people from around the world. Within its fine arts collection is the largest existing collection of works in any museum by the artists John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence and Samella Lewis.
General Samuel Chapman Armstrong established the museum collection at Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (now Hampton University) with objects donated by his missionary mother who was living in Hawaii. The first items were Polynesian.
The first African pieces were acquired at the museum.
The establishment of the American Indian Education Program and the founding of the Museum’s Indian collection.
Academic Hall, which housed the museum, destroyed by fire.
Hampton alumnus, William H. Sheppard begins collecting traditional African art from the Kuba people of Zaire for Hampton. In 1911, he sold approximately 400 pieces of traditional Kuba art for $400 to Hampton.
Museum relocated to Marshall Hall (today’s Administration building).
The Banjo Lesson and Lion’s Head were given as gifts by Hampton trustee Robert C. Ogden. Ogden Hall is also named for this trustee.
Faculty member Alice C. Bacon returns from her second teaching appointment in Japan where she collected Japanese pieces. After her death in 1918, her Japanese Collection becomes a gift to the museum.
The first Zulu pieces are acquired by the museum.
Pieces from the Philippine Islands acquired.
Hampton student from Kenya, Mibyu Koinange donates items from the Kikuyu people to reflect his culture. Koinange’s father was a Senior Chief.
The mural, The Contribution of the Negro to Democracy in America was completed by Charles White. The mural is located in Clarke Hall.
The museum received a large gift of paintings and sculptures from The Harmon Foundation of African American and Contemporary African Fine Art.
The museum moves from Marshall Hall to the Academy Building.
Major works of art from the Countee Cullen Collection and the John Biggers’ Art Collection are acquired by the museum.
The museum acquired major works of art from the Samella S. Lewis Art Collection, a collection of prints from Elizabeth Catlett, and the Pen of Liberty, one of three pens used by Abraham Lincoln to sign the Emancipation Proclamation.
John Biggers fabricates and completed two murals, Tree House and House of the Turtle for the William H. and Norma B. Harvey Library, Hampton University.
The museum moves to the Huntington Building, formerly the Huntington Library after a 5 million dollar renovation.
View from the Upper Room, a retrospective of John Biggers’ work was exhibited at the museum.
Major acquisitions from donors include contemporary art, African art, work from former faculty member Lorraine Bolton and works from Romare Bearden.
The Hampton University Museum brings its remarkable collection to the public through an array of educational initiatives including permanent and changing exhibitions, the Children’s Curiosity Room, the Center for African American History and Life, publications, lectures, symposia, art and teacher training workshops, school partnerships and the quarterly publication of the International Review of African American Art. The Museum’s membership and community programs offer Museum supporters an assortment of lectures, workshops and children’s programming, like Tree House. The Museum also has an active group of volunteers (HUMVs) and The Biggers’ Circle, a student support group.
The Laurel Tucker Duplessis Gift Shop is named for the artist, and former Curator at the Hampton University Museum. The development of a Gift Shop, at the Museum, was Mrs. Duplessis idea and the topic of her Hampton University Museum’s thesis for her Master of Arts in Museum Studies. The endowment to rename the Gift Shop was established by the Tucker and Duplessis Family and Friends and was unveiled April 27, 2017. The Gift Shop offers a wide assortment of hand-made crafts, jewelry, soaps, and copies of the International Review of African American Art, notecards, posters and wine. Proceeds from the Laurel Tucker Duplessis Gift Shop sales support the educational mission of the Museum.
Added bonus: Museum members enjoy a 10% discount on Gift Shop purchases.
Open Mon – Fri, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. and Sat, 12 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Vanessa D. Thaxton-Ward
Associate Curator & Director of Membership (and) Community Programs
Assistant Editor, International Review of African-American Art
Donzella D. Maupin
Secretary, Hampton University Museum
Andreese A. Scott
Secretary, University Archives
Charles R. Allen