The First Decade, 1970s
The first official director of the Anderson Gallery, Bruce Koplin, was faced with several immediate challenges: an old building with an unusual layout, a very limited budget, and a partially catalogued university collection of artworks. The first two would remain consistent over the lifetime of the Anderson Gallery.
Koplin’s first task was converting the space from a library into a place for exhibitions. With the help of students and a few staff, all the books were moved, the shelving dismantled, and the walls painted a bright white. The first exhibition held in the newly opened Gallery was titled VCU Student Exhibitions: painting, drawing, printmaking, crafts, sculpture, while the second was Five Washington Sculptors. These two exhibitions set the stage for the future of the Anderson Gallery as a space that featured student work alongside that of professional artists.
The 1970s was a period of initiation and identity formation for the Gallery. Those first ten years established it’s focus on contemporary art as new professors for the expanding School of the Arts brought the latest theories and trends with them from around the country. This decade also witnessed the first exhibition of Black Art by students, and a solo show for a Black female artist in 1972, as well as the first all female group show in Richmond in 1973. The shows were titled Black Art (students), Sister Gertrude Morgan: Paintings, and Sixteen Women Artists: Richmond.
Fun Fact: In 1976, a Richard Carlyon painting was replaced with a forgery only to be found later in the Gallery’s storage room, causing increased security measures to be put into place for future exhibitions.
President of VCU:
- Warren W. Brandt 1969 - 1974
- T. Edward Temple 1975 - 1977
- Edmund F. Ackell 1978 - 1990
Dean of VCUArts:
- Murry N. DePillars, Ph.D. 1976 - 1995.
Anderson Gallery Director:
- Bruce Koplin 1971 - 1973
- Harriet Dubowski 1973 - 1978
- Michael Walls 1979 - 1981