VCU Libraries Gallery

Remembering Theresa Pollak: An Exhibition on the Founder of VCUarts

At the dedication ceremony of the Theresa Pollak Building on November 14th, 1971, Dr. Herbert J. Burgart, Dean of the School of the Arts, remarked:  

“Through over forty years of sacrifice and dedication to this University and to the School of the Arts; from [Theresa Pollak’s] first class, which was over subscribed, to the present 1,700 full-time undergraduate majors; when she was the lone faculty member to today’s 150 faculty, from limited certificate programs of performance to our offerings now providing over 28 undergraduate and graduate programs leading to professional degrees, these things stand as a Dedication to the untiring efforts of this gentle woman.” [M 5, Box 2, Dedication of Pollak Building.]

As these words indicate, Theresa Pollak was instrumental in founding VCU's School of the Arts. Beginning in 1928 with a single painting class of twenty students, she laid the foundation for what has become a superb art school, currently ranked by the U.S. News & World Report as the #1 public university arts and design graduate program in the United States. 

To explore Pollak's life, and to illuminate her lasting contributions to VCUarts, this online exhibition presents highlights from the Theresa Pollak Papers—a collection of documents, photographs, and correspondence donated to VCU's Special Collections and Archives by Pollak in the thirty years prior to her death. All questions and comments regarding Theresa Pollak, her collection of papers, or this exhibit should be directed via email to the Special Collections and Archives staff.