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Monday, May 27, 2024
The Observer

Raclin Murphy Museum of Art opens after more than two years of construction

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The Raclin Murphy Museum of Art opened to student on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023.


This weekend, the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art, located just north of Eddy Street, opened its doors to the public for the first time after more than two years of construction and 16 years of planning.

Students were the first ones to be able to enjoy the museum's art galleries, with a student preview night being held on Thursday. A DJ played live music and free Raclin Murphy Museum of Art T-shirts were printed and given out to students in the Learning Commons.

“It feels nice that there is such a wide variety of art so close to where I spend my everyday life,” sophomore James Thompson said about the museum. “It’s such a vibrant space with so much to see, and I overall really enjoyed it.”

From the atrium on the first floor, visitors can access the gallery holding European and American art from 1700 to 1900, the gallery holding African art and the Teaching Gallery — which holds a variety of works of arts related to classes being taught at Notre Dame.

Also on the first floor are the coffee shop, Ivan’s Cafe, and the Learning Commons.

Emily Shetterly, a marketing assistant and social media manager at the museum, described her experience walking into the completed building.

“Walking into the Raclin Murphy is an incredible experience,” Shetterly said. “After seeing the behind-the-scenes of it all the past few years, it is my favorite part to be greeted by those large doors and to be aware of the intentionality and the work that went into every detail of the space.”

On the second floor you can find galleries where European art through 1700, North American indigenous art and art from Central and South America are all held. The Mary Queen of Families Chapel, which features a mosaic by Italian artist Mimmo Paladino on the ceiling and Catholic paintings and artifacts from the 13th and 15th centuries, is also on the second floor.

The basement of the museum houses modern and contemporary art as well as a sculpture court that can also be viewed from the first floor. The third floor holds offices and studio rooms.

“It's a very calming and serene place on campus where you're able to really enjoy and experience some of the art within the South Bend community and also some of the other artists that are featured here,” sophomore Lily Bradley said.

According to the museum website, 31,000 works are held within its collection, with more than 1,000 of these being on display at any given time.

In a statement in promotional material passed out to visitors entering the museum, University President Fr. John Jenkins praised the new museum for sharing the many pieces of art “in all their richness with our University community, our neighbors in the region and the wider world.”

The Raclin Murphy replaces the Snite Museum of Art which has now become the Snite Research Center in the Visual Arts.

Shetterly explained the advantages the new venue offers.

“The old Snite Museum does not compare to the Raclin Murphy,” she said. “While we have always had an incredible collection of work, the new space serves as a grand pedestal to show off this collection. The design and the architecture of the new museum really matches how impressive the collection is, showing it off appropriately.”

Although Thompson noted that the Snite would always have a special place in his heart, he also praised the Raclin Murphy as opposed to the Snite.

“For one, it is much bigger and open, which I definitely liked,” he explained. “You could definitely spend an entire day there. I also think having permanent exhibits for indigenous and African art was a notable change.”

After students were able to enjoy the museum Thursday, festivities continued throughout the weekend. On Friday night, there was a DJ once again, as well as a cash bar for visitors to enjoy. On Saturday, the Notre Dame Children’s Liturgical Choir and players from Merrimans’ Playhouse, a jazz club in South Bend, performed.

On Sunday, an indigenous group put on a dancing, drumming and singing presentation in the atrium of the museum. Additionally, a block printing demonstration was held on the third floor and hot chocolates and cookies were served in a tent outside of the museum.

“I definitely plan to go back to the museum and make a whole day out of it,” Thompson explained. “Going to the museum and getting a bite to eat on Eddy Street just a few steps away is going to be a new weekend favorite activity.”