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Advancing American Art

By | Museum Strengths | No Comments

Advancing American Art

In 1946, the Office of International Information and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. State Department organized an exhibition of 117 oil paintings and watercolors that was designed to demonstrate the ascendancy of American art at the mid-century. Described as a cultural Marshall Plan, the paintings were exhibited at various venues in the United States and abroad. Soon after its initial exhibition, the show was criticized for its “modernity” by conservative politicians, disenfranchised artists and critics. The collection became the focus of intense criticism in Congress which condemned the State Department for its purchase of the collection and for presenting the work of “left-wing”artists whose abstract works, they felt, inadequately illustrated America’s ideals to the rest of the world.

Audubon Collection

By | Museum Strengths | No Comments


Louise Hauss and David Brent Miller Audubon Collection

At the time of his death, the drawings, paintings and engravings of John James Audubon were universally recognized as providing one of the earliest and most accurate records of American wildlife. Unfortunately, his gift for keen observation and near scientific rendering obscured the more artistic side of his work and subsequent generations viewed him as little more than a wildlife illustrator. Only recently, however, historians have initiated serious research into his oeuvre and now consider Audubon’s celebrated prints to be among the finest artistic achievements of the nineteenth century.

Composed of more than 100 of Audubon’s prints, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Art’s Louise Hauss and David Brent Miller Audubon Collection is a cornerstone of the museum’s holdings. The collection is particularly rich in Audubon’s most famous series—Birds of America. The collection was amassed by Mr. David Brent Miller during the first half of the twentieth century. Born in Century, Alabama, Miller spent much of his life in Brewton, Alabama, where he operated his family’s successful lumber operation, T. R. Miller Mill Company. He married Louise Hauss who, upon the death of her husband, continued to add to the collection. In 1992, the Millers’ granddaughter, Susan Phillips, made a gift of the Audubon collection to Auburn University to not only honor the contribution of her grandparents but to observe their wish that the Audubon collection remain in Alabama and be readily accessible to the state’s citizens. To accomplish this, Ms. Phillips provided Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art with funds for an endowment for the care, study and conservation of the collection, the funding for galleries, and the funds for the Louise Hauss and David Brent Miller Works on Paper Study Room where the collection is housed and available for study when not on exhibition.

Belleek Collection

By | Museum Strengths | No Comments

 Belleek Collection

Among the earliest gifts to the museum’s permanent collection is a large group of fine ceramics produced by the Belleek Pottery Works in Northern Ireland. Established in 1857, and still in operation today, Belleek is renowned internationally for its production of intricately patterned tableware, sculpture, and decorative objects. Executed in a type of porcelain known as parian china, the resulting white ceramic prior to glazing is said to resemble the marble quarried on the Greek island of Paros.

JCSM’s diverse collection, donated to the museum by Dwight and Helen Carlisle, numbers 330 pieces and includes examples from each historic period of Belleek’s production. Tthe collection includes a rare spider plate, woven baskets, vases, busts, tea sets, place settings and decorative objects.

2013 – October

By | History
JCSM opened to the public on October 3, 2003. In celebration of its 10-year anniversary, the museum opened the first juried outdoor sculpture exhibition, Out of the Box, on October 4, 2013. Our  jurors for the competition, partners and accomplished artists, Carol Mickett and Robert Stackhouse, selected ten finalists who received one thousand dollars each. First, second and honorable mention prizes were awarded totaling five thousand dollars. The artists’ work was displayed on the museum grounds in a yearlong observance of the anniversary. Two sculptures from the competition were acquired for the permanent collection through gifts.on.

Out of the Box

By | Juried Exhibition, Visiting Artist | No Comments

Out of the Box

Thank you for your interest in Out of the Box: A Juried Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition presented by Jule Collins Smith Museum, Auburn University. The deadline for submissions has passed. To receive future calls for submission please contact Jessica Hughes at

View the site plan.

Out of the Box is a national, juried competition open to all artists age 18 and older. Eleven sculptures will be selected for exhibition on JCSM’s grounds from October 2, 2015-October 2, 2016. Prizes totaling $15,000 will be awarded. The juror is contemporary artist Willie Cole.

Willie Cole

Juror Wille Cole
shown with The Worrier
Image courtesy of the artist

Downtown Goddess for Web

Wille Cole
Downtown Goddess, 2012-13
Edition: 5/7, unique patination
Museum purchase with funds provided by Julian Haynes and the 1072 Society Class of 2014
Image courtesy of the artist and Beta Pictoris Gallery

Out of the Box is made possible in part with funds provided by Julian Robert Haynes, in memory of Dr. Lucile McGehee Haynes, Grace and David E. Johnson, and the Susan Phillips Educational Gift Fund.

A portion of the finalists’ honoraria for the 11 finalists is supported by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Coming Soon: FILM@JCSM Trailers

By | Film, Interdisciplinary Learning | No Comments

Film at JCSM stands for “Fostering Interdisciplinary Learning through Movies.” The films for spring semester 2015 are programmed in conjunction with John Himmelfarb: TRUCKS.

This project is co-sponsored by the Alabama Humanities Foundation, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Catch all this semester’s film trailers in this playlist, then be sure to reserve your seat online.

“Penelope Awaiting Her Chamberlain” rolls in to Auburn

By | Art Experiences, Building Community, Collection Loan, Sculpture | No Comments

Drivers of large trucks may know all too well that finding the right parking spot can sometimes be an adventure. Imagine positioning an antique truck measuring more than 11 feet high by 25 feet long, weighing in at an estimated 12, 000 pounds.

That is the task for the staff of Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University, as they begin preparations this month for the upcoming exhibition, “John Himmelfarb: TRUCKS.”

Penelope Awaiting Her Chamberlain is an outdoor sculpture created from a 1946 Chevrolet farm truck and found objects. “This artwork is part of John Himmelfarb’s exhibition and reflects our ongoing interest in outdoor sculpture on the museum’s grounds,” said Marilyn Laufer, director.

This first piece of artwork arrived by tractor trailer at the museum. The driver unloaded his carry and drove the truck to the installation spot on the museum grounds.

In addition to sculpture, the Chicago-based artist depicts the truck in paintings, drawings, and prints. His artwork is found in the permanent collections of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington, DC, and Auburn’s Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art.

When asked about his subject matter choice, Himmelfarb noted, “Does anyone ask the artist of still lifes, ‘Why apples?’ Now, I turn the ‘why trucks?’ question around and ask: What do you think about when you see these works?” The artist went on to say his aim in doing so was to encourage the personal discovery that comes from experiencing fine art.

The early installation of Penelope Awaiting Her Chamberlain on the museum grounds is a sneak preview of what you will see when the exhibition opens inside the museum on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015.  The exhibition will continue through Sunday, May 10, 2015.

Climbing the sculpture is strictly prohibited. Visitors to the museum are encouraged to take photographs with the piece and post on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook using the tag, #JCSMTruckStop.  

The museum is open to the public for regular hours through Sunday, Dec. 21. The holiday schedule during the university break is: Friday, Dec. 26 to Saturday, Dec. 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 28 from 1 to 4 p.m., and Friday, Jan. 2 to Saturday Jan. 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 4, from 1 to 4 p.m.

The Golden Age of Painting

By | Uncategorized

Rembrandt, Rubens, Gainsborough and the Golden Age of Painting in Europe

October 19, 2014 – January 4, 2015
Bill L. Harbert Gallery
Gallery C
Noel and Kathryn Dickinson Wadsworth Gallery

This fall, JCSM is pleased to present a spectacular exhibition of paintings by European master artists on loan from the renowned collection of the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. Featuring 69 works of art created during the 17th through early 19th centuries, Rembrandt, Rubens, Gainsborough, and the Golden Age of Painting in Europe illustrates a period of great political, economic, scientific, and religious transformations that profoundly affected a continent. With paintings that range from towering formal portraiture to miniature objects of devotion, and elaborately staged interpretations of antiquity to humble still-life arrangements, the exhibition provides visitors a visual survey of the cultural issues that marked this important era, and offers a close look at the exceptional painterly skills by which artists set those subjects to canvas and wood panel.

In addition to the broadly famous Old Masters who constitute the exhibition’s title, other equally remarkable painters, though less well known, are represented in the collection with outstanding examples of their work. These include French artist Charles-Antoine Coypel’s tender depiction of The Education of the Virgin, Dutch painter Jacob van Ruisdael’s romantic Landscape with a Half-Timbered House and a Blasted Tree, and a dramatic Saint Jerome by Flemish artist Hendrick van Somer. We invite you to take advantage of this special viewing opportunity during its brief, 11-week installation in Auburn before the collection moves on to the Huntsville Museum of Art, which partnered with JCSM in hosting these exceptional works in Alabama.

Rembrandt, Rubens, Gainsborough, and the Golden Age of Painting in Europe has been organized by the Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky.

The exhibition is generously underwritten in part by Mrs. Dorothy Davidson. A donation of $5 for admission to the exhibition is suggested.

Additional promotional support was provided in part by Alabama Travel, Auburn-Opelika Tourism Bureau, and Alabama Media Group.

JCSM seeks to add works by Old Masters to the permanent collection. Learn how you can help.

Establishing New Areas of Collecting Excellence

By | Art

Walking through Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University, you may see a contemporary sculpture made of knock-off Louboutin shoes opposite a landscape by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, a still-life composition made of delicate and perilously placed glass, or an Andy Warhol photograph of John Oates wearing an Auburn T-shirt. What connects these seemingly disjointed pieces is how they fit together in the story of art. Each artist and movement represents a different chapter in a long history of expression.

With a goal of collecting works from the same historic era as the traveling exhibition Rembrandt, Rubens, Gainsborough, and the Golden Age of Painting in Europe, curators at Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University are proposing Old Master works on paper this fall as a part of the annual 1072 Society Exhibition on view Nov. 8, 2014 through Jan. 25, 2015. The selection of 10 works of art is courtesy of various galleries. With support of 1072 Society donors, some or all of these pieces may enter the permanent collection to expand holdings in this under represented area.

Cindy Cox, membership officer, said there is a demonstrated annual increase in alumni and community participation in the 1072 Society since it began in 2008. The gift amount beginning at $1,072 is a tribute to the amount paid in 1948 for Auburn’s first major art acquisition, 36 modernist paintings from the Advancing American Art U.S. State Department exhibition. To date, the efforts of campus and community through the 1072 Society have resulted in the purchase of 18 works of art.

Many of these acquisitions are currently on extended view alongside other popular works in the museum’s Chi Omega-Hargis Gallery, including Downtown Goddess, by Willie Cole and Curvae in Curvae by Beverly Pepper, both secured with funds from the 1072 Society Class of 2014. Permanent collection exhibitions complement traveling exhibitions, and Auburn students and community docents use different works for public programs and tours for more than 30,000 visitors annually.

Items from the permanent collection are also loaned to other institutions. Yasuo Kuniyoshi’s Circus Girl Restingfrom the Advancing American Art collection will be a part of a major retrospective on the artist during spring and summer of 2015 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.

That initial collecting strategy when the 1072 Society began was to bring in as many different artistic voices as possible, but as the organization grows, curators seek to enhance existing collections or to develop a new strength, like these prints and drawings from the 17th and 18th centuries.

“By exhibiting artists from this earlier period, we can show where these 19th, 20th, and 21st-century artists came from, whether they are following in the footsteps of these artists, advancing what they did or in many cases rebelling against what they did,” said Dennis Harper, curator of collections and exhibitions. “Seeing the works first hand is more beneficial than looking at reproductions in a book or computer screen because there is a texture, surface, and richness of color that you can’t see even the best photograph. You really feel the artist’s touch.”

“The museum’s collection will never exactly be an A-to-Z art history reference considering the competitive art marketplace,” said Marilyn Laufer, museum director, who researched available works with Harper and networked with gallery owners in New York City. “We collect thoughtfully on behalf of Auburn and evaluate how to build areas of excellence for in-depth study.”

A public reception is planned for Thursday, Nov. 13 at 5 p.m., when guests may discuss this year’s offerings with museum staff and find out more information about charitable, tax-deductible gifts made through the Auburn University Foundation in support of Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art. Donors, alumni, and friends can make a philanthropic gift in support of the museum’s collection building efforts, like the 1072 Society, by contacting Cindy Cox, membership officer, at 334-844-3005, or by visiting To learn more about the various means of donating to Auburn University, visit 

Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, a distinction held by less than six-percent of the nation’s museums. For additional information about the museum’s upcoming exhibitions and programs, visit or call 334-844-1484.

JCSM Announces Holiday Hours

By | News

From our “house,” to yours! Happy Holidays from JCSM.

Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University is offering special holiday hours this season. Whether you need a creative gift idea from the Museum Shop or have in-town guests to entertain, a museum visit is a wonderful way to spend some downtime together. Rembrandt, Rubens, and Gainsborough, and the Golden Age of Painting in Europe is on view through Jan. 4, 2015, so don’t miss this spectacular exhibition!

Galleries and Museum Shop

JCSM is open to the public:

  • Fri., Nov. 28 and Sat. Nov. 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sun., Nov. 30 from 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Fri., Dec. 26 and Sat., Dec. 27 from 10 am to 4 p.m. and Sun., Dec. 28 from 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Fri., Jan. 2 and Sat., Jan. 3 from 10 am to 4 p.m. and Sun., Jan. 4 from 1 to 4 p.m.

JCSM is closed to the public:

  • Nov. 26 through 27 for Thanksgiving
  • Dec. 22 through Dec. 25 for Christmas
  • Dec. 29 through Jan. 1 for New Year

Museum Café

The Museum Café is closed Nov. 25 through Nov. 28 and Dec. 23, 2014 through Jan. 2, 2015. Lunch service resumes Tuesday, Jan. 6. 2015.

JCSM Staff

JCSM staff members will follow Auburn University’s out of office schedule from Dec. 22, 2014 to Jan. 2, 2015. Normal staff operations will resume on Monday, Jan. 5, and the museum will re-open to the public on the regular schedule on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015.

Pictured above, detail:

Robbie Barber (American, b. 1964), Dreams of Flying, 2011, welded steel, paint, faound objects, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art; museum purchase with funds provided by Julian R. Haynes in loving memory of Dr. Lucile McGehee Haynes, 2014.10

Welcome to the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art!

We are excited that you are here with us. Feel free to look around and reach out to us by navigating to our contact page.

Upcoming Events

Sun 25

Community Films and Conversations

February 25 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Mar 01

A Little Lunch Music, Spring 2018

March 1 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm