South Bend, Ind. – In the fall of 2023, the Snite Museum of Art of Notre Dame, one of the oldest and most esteemed university art museums in the country, will become the new Raclin Murphy Museum of Art and will move to an entirely new building in the University’s arts district. It will serve both as an entrance to the campus and as a welcoming community partner.
The project is designed as a 132,000-square-foot complex and will be constructed in two phases. The first phase, projected to open in November 2023, will feature a 70,000-square-foot facility devoted to new state-of-the-art galleries, a café and retail space. The Museum will also feature a chapel, Our Lady, Queen of Families, with traditional and commissioned works of art on the second floor and a multi-story sculpture court. The new building will continue to promote a culture of learning and includes space for ongoing scholarship and examination of the Museum’s collections through dedicated teaching spaces, a teaching gallery and an object study room.
A planned second phase for research will provide additional galleries as well as a works-on-paper study center, allowing greater access to the Museum’s extraordinary collections, along with additional space for teaching, administrative and curatorial offices, open collections storage and an auditorium. It will join the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park, Matthew and Joyce Walsh Family Hall of Architecture and O’Neill Hall of Music in an assemblage of new facilities on the south side of the Notre Dame campus dedicated to the arts. The new Museum will be a significant and desired addition to the campus and reaffirm the University’s commitment to the arts and arts education. The location is easily accessible for patrons from both on and off campus.
Located in the nine-acre Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park, the building is purposefully situated to harmonize with the landscape and the outdoor collection. The new Museum will be surrounded by green spaces that will allow for the growth of the outdoor sculpture collection. The park’s esteemed designer, Michael Van Valkenburgh, has been retained for the horticultural design to ensure integrity and harmony in the relationship of the Museum to the environment.
As a result of a national search, Notre Dame selected Robert A. M. Stern Architects (RAMSA) to design the new Raclin Murphy Museum of Art in 2019. Over its 50-year history, RAMSA has established an international reputation as a leading classic design firm with broad experience met with widespread critical acclaim. RAMSA was chosen for its international recognition and expertise as part of a rigorous national design competition. Hallmark to this Museum are carefully considered display spaces and public gathering venues to host diverse, integrated presentations of both the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions.
The goal for the facility is taken from the Museum’s mission to provide “experiences with significant works of art intended to stimulate inquiry, dialogue and wonder for audiences across the academy, the community and around the world—all in support of the University of Notre Dame’s Catholic mission.”
“Since its founding, Notre Dame has valued the vital role the visual arts play as an expression of human creativity, religious experience and insight into the human condition,” said University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. “By bringing the collections currently in the Snite Museum of Art to new life in the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art, we will be able to share these treasures in all their richness with our University community, our neighbors in the region and the wider world.”
The Raclin Murphy Museum of Art will hold one of the most significant and largest collections of any academic museum in the country, with nearly 31,000 works that represent many of the principal cultures and periods of world art history. The permanent collection, which will celebrate its sesquicentennial in 2025, will be reinstalled with new life and vigor, offering reimagined perspectives on cherished artworks.
Exceptional holdings include significant European masterworks (including the Alsdorf, Butkin, Fisher, Kress, Raclin and Walter collections of paintings and sculpture), the Marten collection of decorative arts, works on paper (including the Feddersen collection of Rembrandt prints, the Reilly drawings collections, the Scholz 19th century and Kaeser 20th century photography collections and Jim Dine print collection), landmark sculpture collections (including vast holdings of Ivan Meštrović, George Rickey and Kenneth Snelson, and the Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park), African art (including the Mort collection), a renowned collection of art of the Indigenous Americas (including North America and Central and South America) and one of the finest collections of Olmec and Mesoamerican art in the nation. The traditional yet innovative galleries in the new Museum facility will allow for a significant number of works from the Raclin Murphy’s permanent collection to be showcased and placed in conversation with one another in exciting and enriching ways.
Ernestine Raclin and her daughter and son-in-law Carmen and Chris Murphy are the lead benefactors of the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art.
“The Raclin Murphy Museum of Art will invite students, scholars, regional communities and national audiences to engage with original works of art, make new discoveries and experience a myriad of ideas through innovative interpretative installations and programming,” said Joseph Antenucci Becherer, director of the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art. “In addition to creating majestic new galleries and creative learning spaces, we are committed to honoring the dedication to the arts and hospitality that is the very spirit of the Raclin and Murphy families and sharing that with the world.”
Like the Snite Museum of Art, the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art will be free and open to the public. For more information, visit raclinmurphymuseum.nd.edu.