Current Exhibits


Collecting American Histories: The Tracy W. McGregor Library at 75
Main Floor, Main Exhibit Gallery

Collecting American Histories: The Tracy W. McGregor Library at 75 features rare and significant broadsides, books, prints, and letters that illuminate many aspects of the American experience. Drawn from a collection initially formed by Detroit philanthropist Tracy W. McGregor, and given to the University of Virginia in 1938, the items on display tell stories ranging from the early settlement of Virginia to the Mather family of Puritan ministers; to the clash of European powers over the North American continent; to the diaspora of Native Americans from their ancestral lands; and to the servants and slaves on whose backs the American economy depended.

The exhibition also highlights the philanthropic activities of Tracy and Katherine McGregor, who worked to improve the lives of many Michigan residents, and whose legacy includes ensuring the accessibility of this superlative collection to generations of students and scholars seeking a better understanding of American history.

View the Exhibit Website! - www.library.virginia.edu/mcgregor75

Inuit Images – Art from the Canadian Arctic
Main Floor, South Gallery


The Canadian Arctic.  Frozen Seas, glacial mountains, endless empty miles of snow.  For thousands of years, the Inuit people, often called Eskimos, have lived in this region of North America, surviving under extraordinarily difficult conditions.  The Inuit are hunters; they depend completely on nature and their own skills for food, clothing, and shelter.

The prints in this exhibition show many aspects of Inuit culture; their routines of daily life; and their physical and spiritual bonds with the natural world.  The works display the distinctive form and character of one of the world’s last hunting societies.

Artist James Houston, who introduced printmaking to the Inuit in 1957, comments:
[The Inuit] show us how to drive the caribou and how to hold a child.  They understand the patterns of fur and feathers, the bone structures, the rolling gait of the polar bear, the great weight of the walrus, the sleekness of seals, the rhythm in a flight of geese, the nervous movements of fish caught in a trap, for these things are life’s blood to them.

Their prints tell us that the Inuit see and depict things in an ancient way; the artists give us unusual views of their subjects and are unconcerned with background or perspective.  Powerful animal and human forms stand out as isolated images, reflecting the way objects appear in the vast white expanses of the snow-covered North.  Inuit art often refers to the spirit world and to the ancient religion of shamanism.  These colorful prints are vivid proof of Inuit artists’ strong ties to their lang and heritage.

This exhibition was organized in conjunction with Judith Varney Burch, Arctic Inuit Art, Charlottesville.

Inuit print shops in the Arctic are primarily located in Baker Lake, Cape Dorset, Pangnirtung, and Holman Island. Print making is a collaborative process between the artist and the print maker.  The job of the print maker is to create the artist’s drawing onto stone blocks, plates, or stencils… then the image is translated onto paper.

Permanent Exhibits

Flowerdew Hundred: Unearthing Virginia’s History

Pipe tamper

Main Floor, Permanent Exhibit Gallery

Featuring archaeological artifacts from the University of Virginia’s Flowerdew Hundred Collection, this exhibit presents material evidence of Virginia’s early inhabitants: Native American pottery sherds; arms and armor used to defend the new colony; refined, imported wares from Europe; and American-made goods, including items manufactured by African Americans. The materials from U.Va.’s Special Collections also on display—images from sixteenth- and seventeenth-century maps and books—illustrate the importance of the historical record in the study of material culture.

Visit the Flowerdew Hundred exhibit website.

Declaring Independence: Creating and Re-creating America’s Document

First Floor, Permanent Exhibit Gallery

Declaring Independence exhibitThis exhibit offers highlights of the most comprehensive collection of letters, documents, and early printings of the Declaration of Independence. The exhibition sheds light on not only the writing and signing of the Declaration, but also on its first printing, distribution across the colonies, and future impact on American history. An accompanying documentary film is available for viewing in the gallery.

Visit the Declaring Independence exhibit website.




Exhibits Archive