American University Museum

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American University Museum
Statue in Ward Circle, Washington, DC.jpg
American University Museum is located in District of Columbia
American University Museum
Location within Washington, D.C.
Established 2005

4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20016
Coordinates 38°56′21″N 77°05′13″W / 38.9393°N 77.087°W / 38.9393; -77.087
Type Art museum
Director Jack Rasmussen
Public transit access WMATA Metro Logo.svg      Tenleytown–AU

The American University Museum is located within the Katzen Arts Center at the American University in Washington, DC, consisting of a three-story, 30,000-square-foot (2,800 m2) museum and sculpture garden. The region’s largest university facility for exhibiting art, the museum’s permanent collection highlights the holdings of the Katzen and Watkins collection. Rotating exhibitions emphasize regional, national, and international contemporary art.

AU Museum's Permanent Collections[edit]

The Katzen Collection is a private collection from Dr. Cyrus and Myrtle Katzen. It was donated to the university in 2005. The collection comprises more than 300 artworks, including paintings, prints, drawings, and sculpture. The Katzen Collection has a several focuses: Pop Art, Washington art, and glass sculpture. Larry Rivers, Red Grooms, and Roy Lichtenstein are prominent in the collection, as well as Washington artists Gene Davis, Sam Gilliam, and Bill Willis. The Katzen Collection also contains three large bronze sculptures by Nancy Graves, one of which is a working clock. This extraordinary gift was inspired by Myrtle Katzen's love of the art department which she discovered through taking classes at the university. She found great support in painting with a group of alumni artists in the AU studios. Cyrus Katzen, who graduated from Georgetown University's School of Dentistry in 1941, became a supporter of the university through his close friendship with President Benjamin Ladner and Vice President Don Myers. "The art in our collection makes you smile and laugh," Cy Katzen says.[1]

American University Museum

The Watkins Collection which contains more than 4500 works of art, including paintings, prints, drawings, and sculpture focuses on twentieth-century art, with a special emphasis on Washington area art produced since the 1940s. The Watkins Collection was created in 1945 as a memorial to C. Law Watkins, the former chair of the Department of Art at American University.The collection has grown through generous donations from collectors and judicious management by the studio art faculty. William Calfee, Ben Summerford, Luciano Penay, and Ron Haynie, all former members of the painting faculty, provided direction and care for a collection that has grown from 25 original donations.[2]

Significant exhibitions[edit]

  • November 6 - December 30, 2007 - Abu Ghraib. The painter Fernando Botero created a series featuring uncompromising, graphic images that expressed his outrage at the United States-led abuse and torture of Iraqi insurgent prisoners. The Paris-based Botero, known for his exaggeratedly rotund figures in benign social satires, unveiled these controversial works in Europe in 2005. The American University Museum was the first museum venue in the United States of the Abu Ghraib series. While a departure from Botero's usual subjects, the series related to work he did that portrayed violence by the drug cartel in his native Colombia. After reading official reports about Abu Ghraib, he concentrated in his works on the suffering and dignity of the victims.[3]
  • 2008 - Noche Crist: A Romanian Revelation. Noche Crist was Washington art’s unofficial doyenne of decadence for almost 60 years. Born in Romania in 1909, Noche moved to Washington, D.C., in 1947 after World War II. She lived and worked there until her death in 2004. A re-creation of her boudoir was one of the installations featured in the 2008 posthumous retrospective.[citation needed]
  • July - August 2009 - Margaret Boozer: Dirt Drawings. Margaret Boozer, an American sculpture artist best known for clay compositions created what may have qualified as the biggest mud pie in the world to be found in a museum. The work Dirt Drawings, was to provide an opportunity for visitors to have the same experience she does every morning at her studio. The work was a floor installation that included crumbling clay that formed craterlike platters of ringed clay. [4]


  1. ^ "Katzen Collection". Archived from the original on 2 January 2008. Retrieved 2007-12-23. 
  2. ^ "Watkins Collection". Archived from the original on 2 January 2008. Retrieved 2007-12-23. 
  3. ^ "Fernando Botero: Abu Ghraib". American University Museum. Archived from the original on 2 January 2008. Retrieved 2007-12-23. 
  4. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael (July 24, 2009). "For Margaret Boozer, Dirt Becomes Art". The Washington Post. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 

Related links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°56′21″N 77°05′13″W / 38.9393°N 77.087°W / 38.9393; -77.087