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History|Art Museum

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Art Museum
Hours: Mon-Sat: 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Monday's until 7 pm, February - April, September - November.
Admission: Free
2111 Willett Drive
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: (307) 766-6622
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The University of Wyoming Art Museum has presented art to the people of Wyoming since its opening in 1972. Then art department chair James Boyle and art history professor James Forest established the museum in the belief that a university could not have a viable visual art program without original art of all genres, media, and cultures to study. The museum was originally housed in the lower level of the Fine Arts building, with the galleries in what is currently the dance studio. Forrest became the first director of the Art Museum, overseeing a staff of two – one education curator and one part-time registrar.

In 1982 the museum’s outreach programs, The Ann Simpson Artmobile and the Touring Exhibition Service, were created. The Artmobile, which was spearheaded by Sen. Alan Simpson’s wife Ann, travels across Wyoming sharing museum quality artwork with communities that often have limited access to original art. The Touring Exhibition Service offers exhibitions at no charge to Wyoming organizations like libraries, schools, community centers, galleries, and museums. Both programs are still active today.

Forrest retired as the Art Museum director in 1987 and was replaced by Charles Guerin. Recognizing that the collection Forrest had accrued needed a larger facility, Guerin applied for and received a $400,000 Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1988. This grant was the largest ever given to an art museum at that time and initiated a fund raising campaign that netted $7.5 million for the new Art Museum facility.

University of Wyoming trustees selected internationally acclaimed architect, Antoine Predock, to design the new building.  Ground was broken in 1991 and on Sept. 10, 1993 the Centennial Complex, which houses the Art Museum and the American Heritage Center, opened to the public. The facility offers nine galleries, an expansive outdoor sculpture terrace, an education studio, a museum store, and seven storage vaults for the care and preservation of the Art Museum's permanent collection.

On November 20, 1997, the University of Wyoming Art Museum was re-accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM), demonstrating the museum’s high level of professionalism demanded under the rigorous standards of AAM.  The museum was first accredited by AAM in 1976 and received a provisional accreditation in 1986 due to the lack of museum quality storage in the Fine Arts Complex.

Today, the Art Museum houses a collection of nearly 8,000 art objects and hosts an average of 16 exhibitions a year. Extensive education programs take place year-round, with classes for all ages that draw on the exhibitions for inspiration. The museum operates with a full-time staff of 11, a National Advisory Board of up to 40, and the support of many donors and friends.

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