Interdisciplinary Learning

Guest Blogger: “Basquiat” Screens for FILM@JCSM April 7

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On Thursday, April 7 at 4 p.m. JCSM will screen the biographical drama, “Basquiat” in the auditorium. Run time is 108 min.

The film will be introduced by Freda Hadley, visiting assistant professor of ethnomusicology, Oberlin College.

Free admission thanks to our business partners, but advance ticket reservation is encouraged. A suggested donation of $5 is appreciated.

Reserve Here

About the Film

Enigmatic and expressive, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960 – 1988) was a prolific artist that sliced through society’s unassuming veneer to highlight injustice and reveal greater truths. In his first artistic endeavor, Basquiat took to the streets under the name SAMO where he completed textual pieces of graffiti comprised of trenchant observations about the world at large. Alongside the graffiti tradition, Basquiat regularly painted on various media, from a girlfriend’s dress to a stack of tires. Basquiat cultivated a bold and colorful Neo-Expressionist style that straddled the line between abstraction and figuration. His works were covered in snippets of scrawled text, drawings, and historical information, pulling upon a powerful amalgam of themes including pop-culture, African-American culture, music and youth culture which coalesced into a powerful visual language. Basquiat’s art focused on pointed critiques of contemporary society, condemning systemic racism and classism. His arresting images captivated the attention of the market and critics alike. Even today, his works, still highly revered and desired, have been sold for more than $16 million dollars.

“Basquiat” (1996) is both a dreamy and poignant venture into the artist’s propulsion from homeless gallery assistant in Tompkins Square Park to artist of international acclaim. With the vibrant 1980s New York art scene as a backdrop, this journey, brought to life by the skillful lead performance of Jeffrey Wright, is hardly a painless one. Although presenting in over twenty-three solo exhibitions and receiving incredible sums of money for his work, Basquiat struggles to curb his drug addiction despite repeated requests from mentor and artistic colleague, Andy Warhol (David Bowie), and confronts both blatant and insidious forms of racism in his ascent. In one scene, an unnamed interviewer (Christopher Walken) unabashedly asks Basquiat how he felt being deemed the “pickaninny” of the art world. As the movie ends, Basquiat relates a metaphorical tale to friend Benny (Benicio Del Toro) about a voiceless prince trapped in a tower who repeatedly knocked his crowned head against the prison bars in the hopes that he would be heard. Although people hear the beautiful sound he makes ringing through the air, they never find or release the prince. Just like his story counterpart, Basquiat declares, “It’s definitely time to get out of here.”

Written by Laura Pratt, Senior, History.


FILM@JCSM stands for “Fostering Interdisciplinary Learning through Movies.” The 2016 spring semester selections are programmed in conjunction with Face to Face: Artists’ Self-Portraits from the Collection of Jackye and Curtis Finch Jr.

Each FILM@JCSM begins at 4 p.m., and will be introduced by a guest scholar. After the screening, there is café service and live jazz from 5 to 8 p.m.

Guest blogger: “Mr. Turner” Screens for FILM@JCSM Feb. 25

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On Thursday, February 25 at 4 p.m. JCSM will screen the biographical drama, “Mr. Turner” in the auditorium. Run time is 150 min.

The film will be introduced by Leo Costello, associate professor of art history, Rice University. Costello has a background in 18th and 19thcentury British literature and art history, as well as a published book on Turner entitled, J.M.W. Turner and the Subject of History.

Free admission thanks to our business partners, but advance ticket reservation is encouraged. A suggested donation of $5 is appreciated.

Reserve Here


About the Film

English Romantic painter Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851), known as “the painter of light,” instilled his own personality in to his fevered landscapes – brutal, mercurial, and imperfect. His oil and watercolor scenes record the violent, fleeting moods of nature while foretelling the arrival of Impressionism. Shipwrecks, fires, and fog occupy his canvases, every stroke as unpredictable and unforgiving as Turner himself. The British public, royalty, and artists celebrated the paintings yet reviled the behavior of the solitary painter. Turner’s innovations in atmospheric effects thrust once-scorned theme of landscape painting to the status of history paintings for the first time in the Royal Academy of Art’s history.

The critically acclaimed “Mr. Turner” (2014), directed by Mike Leigh, follows the last twenty-five years of the life of the eccentric J. M. W. Turner. Turner paints through the death of his close father, confused affair with his ill housekeeper, and incognito relationship with his Chelsea landlady over the course of the film. Leigh’s film undulates between chaos and stillness, relentlessly revealing an uncensored account of the late life of Turner. The biopic explores each gritty secret, frustration, and fear of the artist, never failing to expose the uncomfortable, intimate moments of one of the most famous British painters in all of art history. The lush settings where Turner paints encapsulate the audience in nineteenth-century England. The actors of “Mr. Turner” explore the spectrum of human emotions and motivations while outfitted in period costumes and thick accents. Timothy Spall’s performance as J. M. Turner is as wrought with tension and life, placing viewers in to Turner’s own reality.

Written by Shannon Bewley, Senior, Art History.


FILM@JCSM stands for “Fostering Interdisciplinary Learning through Movies.” The 2016 spring semester selections are programmed in conjunction with the 2016 Auburn University Department of Art and Art History Studio Faculty Exhibition, and Face to Face: Artists’ Self-Portraits from the Collection of Jackye and Curtis Finch Jr.

Each FILM@JCSM begins at 4 p.m., and will be introduced by a guest scholar. After the screening, there is café service and live jazz from 5 to 8 p.m.


Guest blogger: “Throne of Blood” Screens for FILM@JCSM Dec. 3

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FILM@JCSM stands for “Fostering Interdisciplinary Learning through Movies.” This semester’s selections are programmed in conjunction with Along the Eastern Road: Hiroshige’s Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido.

You can see “Throne of Blood” on Thursday, December 3 at 4 p.m. in the auditorium. Admission is free, advance ticket reservation is encouraged. Reserve your tickets.

About the Film

Written by John Gulledge, program assistant

Premiering in Japan on January 15, 1957, “Throne of Blood” is writer-director Akira Kurosawa’s reimagining of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. In keeping with the Bard’s exploration of human nature, the film follows Taketoki Washizu (Toshirô Mifune) as he wrestles with ambition and greed, murdering his way to the top. Set against the backdrop of sixteenth-century feudal Japan, the movie harkens back to the highly stylized performances of Noh, a historical genre of theatre that originated some time in the fourteenth century. Noh performances rely heavily on body language and facial expression, and Kurosawa uses this play-form to create the eerie, strange, and at times absurd atmosphere that characterizes Macbeth.

“Throne of Blood” takes the thriller and horror elements of its source and runs with them, creating a visually striking story with an even darker mood and tone. The high-contrast black and white cinematography is echoed in the film’s characters and setting: Taketoki is the hot-headed and aggressive foil to Asaji (Isuzu Yamada), his Lady Macbeth, who is presented as distanced and cold; the quiet and claustrophobic interior of Cobweb Castle is propped against the battlefield full of blood and rage; the shift between deathly stillness and explosions of violent action; to the absolute and pervasive fog that characterizes unyielding fate. In the end, Kurosawa gives us the bloody conclusion we expect, and the final image of the usurping Taketoki is visually ravishing as he clings on not to life, as one might think, but to a promise and prophecy of glory – what Macbeth calls, “my black and deep desires.”

Guest blogger: “Lost in Translation” Screens for FILM@JCSM Nov. 12

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FILM@JCSM stands for “Fostering Interdisciplinary Learning through Movies.” This semester’s selections are programmed in conjunction with Along the Eastern Road: Hiroshige’s Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido.

You can see “Lost in Translation” on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 4 p.m. in the auditorium. Admission is free, but advance ticket reservation is encouraged. Reserve your tickets.

Chris Keirstead, Department of English, Auburn University, will introduce the film and guide discussion.

About the Film

Contributed by John Gulledge, program assistant

“Lost in Translation” is director Sophia Coppola’s 2003 American drama that follows two characters as they travel to Tokyo, Japan. Touching on universal themes like loneliness and isolation, Coppola’s treatment of the two main characters, Bob (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johanson), centers on the sometimes strange and unexpected bonds that tie.

Bob is a middle aged, washed up actor past his prime who has traveled to Tokyo to shoot a commercial, while Charlotte, the unhappy, young wife of a neglectful and possibly philandering husband, finds herself displaced from America as a tag along to her husband. What is striking is the often subtle third character of the city itself that interacts with Bob and Charlotte as they attempt to negotiate the unfamiliar world to which they journey. What the film does exceedingly well is to highlight a particular experience of “tourism” into the unknown; we have strangers in a strange land completely alien to them, longing for some kind of connection that has been lost as they constantly misread situations and Japanese culture. It’s that strangeness and isolation that serves as the catalyst to the deep bond they form over their shared loneliness in a land completely foreign to them.

Several American critics have hailed “Lost in Translation” a cinematic masterpiece and a master class in film acting. “The New York Times” points out Coppola’s directorial interest in “emotional way stations” not unlike the Inns along the “Hiroshige’s Fifty-Three Stations of Tokaido.” Other critics, however, highlight the decidedly one-sided, American point of view on which the comedy hinges, using the vibrant city and its Japanese inhabitants as a final punch line. Like with most great films, the jury is still out on its nuanced treatment of the displaced characters and their new and unfamiliar locale, and so we welcome you to join us in finding your own translation.

Guest blogger: “Yaji and Kita: The Midnight Pilgrims”

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FILM@JCSM stands for “Fostering Interdisciplinary Learning through Movies.” This semester’s selections are programmed in conjunction with Along the Eastern Road: Hiroshige’s Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido.

You can see “Yaji and Kita: The Midnight Pilgrims” on Thursday, October 29 at 4 p.m. in the auditorium. Admission is free, advance ticket reservation is encouraged. Reserve your tickets.

Ryan Cook of Emory University’s Film and Media Studies will introduce the film and guide discussion.

About the Film

Written by John Gulledge, program assistant

Kankur? Kud?’s “Yaji and Kita: The Midnight Pilgrims” tells the story of two gay Samurai lovers, Yaji-San and Kita-San, as they set out on a quest in search of redemption and healing. Yaji is the sober if childish hero who, although married, leaves his city behind to travel along the Tokaido Road to save Kita. The plot’s genesis revolves around their pilgrimage to the Ise Sanctuary in order to cure Kita of his rampant drug addiction. The tensions of the fantasy and absurdity are summed up in a statement made early on in the film as Kita questions the world around him: “I can’t make heads or tails of reality.” While it sets itself up as a period film, the feel is quickly fractured by motorbikes, musical numbers like “Born to be Gay,” and a surreal video game dream-like sequence that leaves us faced with the same questions that haunt Kita. The turning point is a mysterious postcard from the Shrine that is more advertisement than letter with the slogan, “Reality is Here.” This interjects the first punch of color into the movie and eventually sets the film’s world ablaze with bright and rich colors (and a certain strangeness that wars against “reality” until the credits roll).

Loosely based on “T?kaid?ch? Hizakurige,” a picaresque comic novel published in twelve parts between 1802 and 1822, and a kitchen sink of popular culture references, there is much that feels lost in translation. But if the first half of the film is meant to leave us asking “why?” (and indeed, half way through the film a character echoes these sentiments by stating, “I’m lost”) the second half determines to find us again with answers of humor, escape, and compassion.

Plan a Field Trip to Your Museum!

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Make the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University part of your school year!

Our mission is to bring the arts to our community. We invite classes, community groups, clubs and organizations, and other groups of school-aged children to visit our museum for a guided tour led by trained museum educators and docents.

Exploring the galleries with a docent offers amazing learning opportunities for your students to engage with art, discover more about artists and their processes, and have meaningful discussions about the arts and their relevance. Our docents work to engage students in casual dialogue, encouraging peer discussion, critical thinking, and hands-on analysis.

The arts are an integral part of all cultures, and the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art is proud to explore the relationships of artists and their historical context with your class. Guided tours offer a wealth of relevant information based on the interests of each group. Take a look at the current exhibition schedule to plan your visit.

Guided visits are recommended for students who are at or above pre-k level and last about an hour. Groups are free to explore the Museum on their own after the tour.

Group Size
We ask that groups have no more than 75 students per visit, with one chaperone required for every ten students.

Visit Schedule
Guided visits are available at any time during our museum hours listed below. While the museum is closed to the public on Mondays, tours may still be scheduled in advance for university and K-12 classes.

All guided tours must be requested at least two weeks in advance. You may schedule a tour by contacting our tour coordinator by e-mail or call 334-844-3486

K–12 Studio Art Programs

The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art is pleased to offer art-making activities to supplement in-gallery tours and discussions. After exploring and discussing the works on view, students have the opportunity to take part in related hands-on lessons lead by members of the museum’s education staff. These activities serve to provide a personal tangible art experience for our young learners and encourage material exploration and problem solving.

  • K–12 Studio Art Programs can accommodate a maximum of thirty students
  • $50 per workshop
  • The museum provides all necessary materials and staff members to facilitate the lessons




Coming Soon: Spanish Language Film Series

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JCSM is a co-sponsor with the Department of Foreign Languages and the Office of International Programs- Auburn Abroad for these screenings. These films are all available with English subtitles. The Spanish Language Film Series was made possible with the support of Pragda, the Secretary of State for Culture of Spain, and its Program for Cultural Cooperation with United States’ Universities.

Film screenings:
August 23 @ 2pm: God’s Slave (Esclavo de Dios)
August 30 @ 2pm: 339 Amín Abel Hasbún. Memory of a Crime 
September 6 @ 2pm: Mr. Kaplan
September 20 @ 2pm: Asier and I (asier ETA biok)
September 27 @ 2pm: The Liberator (El Libertador)

Trailers and more information are listed below. Please note: our online ticketing system is currently experiencing technical difficulties. Admission is free. Auditorium seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis; we recommend that you arrive early and fill in all available seating to serve as many visitors as possible. ticketing  and advance registration is encouraged.

Based on the actual events of a 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires, God’s Slave follows Ahmed, trained since childhood as an Islamic terrorist now assigned to execute a suicide bomb at a synagogue; and David, the cold-blooded Israeli special agent who will stop at nothing to prevent the attack.

But neither man is defined solely by their extremist views. Ahmed, posing as a doctor, lives happily with his wife and young son; though David’s marriage is on the rocks, he remains devoted to his wife and daughter.

With time running out before the attack, David zeros in on Ahmed as a suspect, his investigation culminating in violent, if unexpected, consequences.

Despite the fact that 20 years have passed after the attack, God’s Slave couldn’t be more current with news of the “death” of Alberto Nisman, the Argentine federal prosecutor who had been investigating the case for ten years. Four days prior, he had accused the President of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, of covering up and protecting the perpetrators of the bombing in exchange for Iranian oil.

Based on a real story, 339 Amín Abel Hasbún. Memory of a Crime is an intriguing account of the murder of Amín Abel Hasbún, a brilliant student leader in the Dominican Republic accused of kidnapping U.S. Embassy official J. Crowley. Hasbún was one of many young leftists fighting against the government of Dr. Joaquín Balaguer, who favored a repressive regime.

Hasbun’s death shook the sensibility of the Dominican people to the point that Balaguer had to orchestrate an investigation despite the fact that his government had been responsible for the cold-blooded murder.

With a plot that involved the CIA and the Dominican Republic Police Force, the film does an excellent job at deconstructing the events that took place the morning of September 24, 1970, when Amín, his wife and 2-year-old son received the fatal visit of the police and country’s District Attorney.

Uruguay’s official selection for Best Foreign Academy Award, Mr. Kaplan follows Jacob Kaplan’s ordinary life in Uruguay. Like many of his other Jewish friends, Jacob fled Europe for South America because of World War II. But now, turning 76, he’s become rather grumpy, fed up with his community and his family’s lack of interest in their own heritage.

One beach bar may, however, provide him with an unexpected opportunity to achieve greatness and recover his family’s respect in the community: its owner, a quiet, elderly German, raises Mr. Kaplan’s suspicion of being a runaway Nazi.

Ignoring his family’s concerns about his health, Jacob secretly recruits Contreras, a former police officer whose loyalty far exceeds his honesty, to help him investigate. Together, they will try to repeat the historic capture of Adolf Eichmann: by unmasking and kidnapping the German and secretly taking him to Israel.

Rising filmmaker Álvaro Brechner’s quixotic quest strikes plenty of comedic spark from its bone-dry humor, taking great delight in the reinvigorated ingenuity and pride of its aging protagonist. Even more potently, the film never loses sight of the existential demons that haunt those on the run from their unresolved past and, ultimately, themselves.

Asier and I tells the story of the friendship between Aitor and Asier Aranguren from their time growing up together in the conflict-affected and politicized eighties of Pamplona. Eventually, Aitor moved to Madrid to pursue his dream of becoming an actor and Asier joined the terrorist group ETA. Years later, Asier was arrested and interned in a French prison, where he was detained for eight years.

When Asier was released in 2010, Aitor wanted to recover his relationship with his childhood friend and try to understand what could have led to him to join ETA, so he went to his release in France with a camera in order to tell this story.

Beyond the story of Asier, Aitor, and the Basque conflict, the film raises universal questions: can we justify blood crimes on the name of an ideal? Can friendship transcend ideology and political extremism?

Narrated with humor and cinematographic devises such as direct address, Asier and I does an excellent job at keeping the spectator engaged throughout the film. The documentary remained in Spanish theaters for an impressive four months.


Rising Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramírez stars in this biopic of one of Latin America’s greatest figures. Simón Bolívar fought over 100 battles against the Spanish Empire in South America. He rode over 70,000 miles on horseback. His military campaigns covered twice the territory of those of Alexander the Great. But his army never conquered – it liberated.

The most expensive Latin American film ever produced, The Liberator is a riveting portrayal of the man who led Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Peru, and Ecuador toward independence.

The Liberator was shortlisted with other eight titles for the Best Foreign Academy Award and was the favorite Venezuelan film at the local box office. The film was seen by 697,000 spectators in Venezuela.

JCSM Student Writing Contest: Caroline Barr

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Based on the exhibitions featured at the museum during the 2014-2015 academic year and on works from the permanent collection, JCSM issued a call for written work responding to individual works of art experienced firsthand at JCSM.

Graduate and undergraduate students were encouraged to submit writing of any length, from single poems or personal essays to short stories or seminar papers.

The students selected received prize money and an opportunity to present their work to the public during a museum program. Additionally, students added an online publication credit to their resumes.

We are featuring the winner’s work on the museum website. Please take a moment to read our guest posts from this year’s student writing competition. The museum will once again issue a call for papers for Fall 2015. For more information, contact Scott Bishop, curator of education and university liaison at 334.844.7014.

Untitled Personas by Caroline Barr

Inspired by “Untitled” (groups of drawings/various media on library cards/collection of Molly Day) from “John Himmelfarb: TRUCKS.”

  1. Slide around my gears, slip

tighter so I might turn

blue in your grip. Bump

my lips across the cobblestone.

  1. They finger paint their names

into my ribcage, sometimes scratching

deep enough to wake me,

engines growling in the dark.

  1. My eyes burn with pine stacked

against my skull with heavy whispers

asking for home, their pulpy

wounds fresh and weeping sap.

  1. Tack on to me like a fly

making love to a frog’s tongue,

become part of my collection

you beautiful whirring thing.

  1. I’m building you a house

of beeswax where you’ll sleep

in honeycomb tombs, sink

your teeth into the concrete.

  1. If you look close enough,

you can see Bogart in my

reflection. Press this button

and I’ll sing you raspy like Bacall.

  1. They’ve taken me away

to your museum, a relic

to sit waiting in spotlight,

waiting for your ignition.

  1. You called my name and now

I’m roaring toward your oblivion—

come closer, I’ll try not

to rip the peach of your skin.

  1. We’ve never been so normal

splashing through puddles made

pink with yesterday’s tulips,

pink with the acetone of you.

  1. Sweat clings rung to rung

as wet leaves brush against our

aluminum, sticking like

the fish scales in the backseat.

  1. Let me smother you,

suffocate your veins so

maybe your last green

breath would kiss me full.

  1. This is the resting place

of glimmer and rust warm

against our rubber noses

touching in quiet tightness.

Coming Soon: FILM@JCSM Trailers

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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.

JCSM Welcomes Poetry Series

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As a part of expanded evening programming, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University will host the Third Thursday Poetry Series. The next reading is Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 7:00 pm. The evening will begin with tapas, beer, wine, and cocktail menus in the Museum Café at 5:00 pm and a jazz performance by Patrick McCurry and Dan Mackowski at 6:00 pm. The March featured poets are Gabby Bates and Madison P. Jones IV. Galleries remain open until 8:00 pm on Thursdays, and admission is free courtesy of JCSM Business Partners.

third-thursday_webKen Autrey, who coordinates the series with Keetje Kuipers, said that the series is the only monthly poetry offering in the Auburn-Opelika area. “The Third Thursday Poetry series was started in early 2013 by Jason Crane, with readings held at the Gnu’s Room in Auburn,” said Autrey. “When Jason moved, and the Gnu’s Room moved to Opelika, Keetje and I revived the series at Bell + Bragg Gallery.” Autrey said that when that venue closed, he was able to partner with the museum to provide an outlet for the poetry written and published in the region.

“Strong attendance at the readings demonstrates that there is a loyal local audience for poetry,” he said. “Our cooperative arrangement with the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art affirms the general vitality and importance of the arts in our community—visual, musical, and literary. The mix of programming at the museum suggests that the various arts cannot only coexist but can enrich one another,” he said. “We begin our program with a 15 to 20-minute open mic reading, followed by our featured poet, but on March 20, we have two featured poets,” said Autrey.


Gabby Bates graduated from Auburn in December 2013 with a Bachelors in Creative Writing and Spanish and will pursue her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Washington. She was accepted to the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets with publications in Broadsided, Redactions, andSouthern Humanities Review. She is also writing a young adult novel.

Madison P. Jones IV is a master’s student, studying literature at Auburn University. He is also founder and editor-in-chief of Kudzu Review, a southern journal of literature & environment. His recent work includes poetry in Harpur Palate, Portland Review, Tampa Review, and Canary Magazine. He is the recipient of the 2012 Robert Hughes Mount, Jr. Poetry Prize.


Keetje Kuipers is the author of a new book, “The Keys to the Jail,” which will be available for sale during the reading. Originally from the Northwest, Kuipers is an Assistant Professor at Auburn. Previously, she was the Emerging Writer Lecturer at Gettysburg College. She holds a B.A. from Swarthmore College and M.F.A. from the University of Oregon. She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University from 2009 to 2011. “The Keys to the Jail” follows Kuipers’ first collection “Beautiful in the Mouth.”

Charitable, tax-deductible gifts in support of the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art or other programs at Auburn are made through the Auburn University Foundation, which receives such gifts on the university’s behalf. Donors, alumni, and friends can make a philanthropic gift in support of museum collections, programs, or exhibitions.

Welcome to the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art

We welcome you to explore, experience and engage with the visual arts.