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Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, Florida: Review

Updated on November 22, 2016
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Since completing university, Paul has worked as a bookseller; librarian; and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.

The Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art viewed from the approach.  The building is situated at the UF Cultural Plaza area in the southwest part of campus and is mainly focused on Asian, African, modern and contemporary art, plus photography.
The Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art viewed from the approach. The building is situated at the UF Cultural Plaza area in the southwest part of campus and is mainly focused on Asian, African, modern and contemporary art, plus photography. | Source


As an art lover, finding himself in central Florida, I was presented with an ideal opportunity to visit and write a review of the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, which I promptly took.

Gainesville is home to the University of Florida, whose assets include, as well as the Florida Gators football team, one of the largest university art museums in the southeastern USA.

The Harn Art Museum is situated on the UF Cultural Plaza area in the southwest part of campus.

There was plenty of parking space available when I visited the art museum and the immediate approach to the building was attractive. The plaza hosts a number of large contemporary sculptures as well as a neat water garden just in front of the main entrance to the museum of art.

Timelapse documentation of the installation of "Untitled" by French artist Kader Attia

Inside the Harn Art Museum.  The museum is named in honor of of Samuel Peebles Harn (1893–1957), whose family pledged in 1983 over $3 million for the construction of an arts museum in Gainesville.
Inside the Harn Art Museum. The museum is named in honor of of Samuel Peebles Harn (1893–1957), whose family pledged in 1983 over $3 million for the construction of an arts museum in Gainesville.

Beyond the entrance to the museum of art was the Galleria, a large open space with the information desk on one side and the art museum store on the other.

I was impressed with the feel of the place, spacious, modern and whitewashed, but without being unwelcoming. After enquiring at the information desk, I found out that I was only able to take photos in specific areas, so my pictures below were taken with that restriction in mind.

Claude Monet "Champ d'avoine" (Oat Field) 1890.  Monet was a founder of French Impressionist painting who lived 14 November 1840 – 5 December 1926.
Claude Monet "Champ d'avoine" (Oat Field) 1890. Monet was a founder of French Impressionist painting who lived 14 November 1840 – 5 December 1926.
Photographs of James joyce and a rather startling image of Picasso. As well as collections of art from Asia and Africa, as well as contemporary art, the museum also houses a great deal of photography.
Photographs of James joyce and a rather startling image of Picasso. As well as collections of art from Asia and Africa, as well as contemporary art, the museum also houses a great deal of photography. | Source

According to the museum of art's publicity, there are nearly 7,000 works in the various Harn collections.

These are divided for display into five main areas: African, Asian, Contemporary, Modern, and Photography.

It is an interesting way to split up the various displays and art works, but the layout works, I believe.

St. George and the Dragon, Ethiopian, Qes Adamu Tesfaw 2003.  The Ethiopian artist was trained as a priest in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, but later left the priesthood to pursue a career as an artist.
St. George and the Dragon, Ethiopian, Qes Adamu Tesfaw 2003. The Ethiopian artist was trained as a priest in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, but later left the priesthood to pursue a career as an artist. | Source
Stupa Tower, Chinese, Song Dynasty.  The museum houses a large amount of Asian art, as well as African, contemporary, and photography.
Stupa Tower, Chinese, Song Dynasty. The museum houses a large amount of Asian art, as well as African, contemporary, and photography. | Source

As well as having a store, the Harn Museum of Art has a café on the upper level.

I must say that everything was tastefully done, including the store and the garden areas, where the outdoor sculptures are displayed.

There was some building work going on outside, as another wing is being added to the existing building. The expansion can only be welcomed.

Silk-embroidered court robe, Chinese, Qing Dynasty, being admired by my wife
Silk-embroidered court robe, Chinese, Qing Dynasty, being admired by my wife | Source
The garden areas were tastefully done, with some striking and impressive contemporary sculpture
The garden areas were tastefully done, with some striking and impressive contemporary sculpture | Source

For those interested in visiting the Harn Museum of Art, entrance is free of charge. The opening times are: Tuesday to Friday - 11am to 5pm; Saturday - 10am to 5pm; Sunday – 1pm to 5pm.

I visited late on a Sunday afternoon, the museum of art was generally quiet then, although certainly not deserted. A well attended talk on African textiles was also happening within the museum of art in the Gladys Gracy Harn Exhibition Hall. The museum or art also provides guided tours.

© 2013 FloridaFacts

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