History

LCVA History  ©LCVA

The Longwood Center for the Visual Arts, the art museum of Longwood University, is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. Located in historic downtown Farmville, Va., we serve as a physical, intellectual and cultural bridge between the university and our community at large. We are the only museum of our size and scope in the 7,000-square-mile area surrounding our home base, Prince Edward County.

Our roots run deep, dating back to the late 1800s, when Longwood University first began accumulating its museum collections. Since its founding, Longwood has been an institution constantly looking to the future, envisioning a society peopled by community-minded leaders well-educated in the meaning and worth of good citizenship and personal responsibility. The university has long understood that education is more than a means to earn a living. It is a means by which to live a life—a life of learning, beauty and hope. The arts are intrinsic to the quality of life for every person in every layer of society.

The belief that the arts are an essential component of a balanced education led Longwood University to formally charter the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts in 1978. LCVA’s administrative offices were first housed in Lancaster Hall, and its exhibitions were presented in the Department of Art’s original Bedford Gallery. Barbara L. Bishop, former art department chair, was appointed as the first director for the center, a position she held until her untimely death in 1992. In 1993, with a renewed commitment to establish a permanent home for the museum, Longwood President Dr. William S. Dorrill and the Board of Visitors made a decision: Instead of constructing a new building on campus as originally planned, the LCVA would be located just off campus.

There, the center would physically and symbolically represent a bridge between the university and greater community. That same year, LCVA moved into a 25,000-square-foot facility (formerly a Rose’s department store) at the corner of Third and Main streets in historic downtown Farmville. Since that time, we have renovated and expanded to 33,000 square feet. Although the LCVA had a new home, its collections were not confined to its new space. Significant portions of our permanent collection are displayed in galleries throughout Longwood University’s main campus—a reflection of our belief that the arts are an essential part of education and life. LCVA complements its permanent collection displays with an ambitious program of temporary exhibitions in its galleries at Third and Main.Today LCVA is an anchor in the community, dedicated to serving those from all walks of life. We are known for our innovative outreach, and as an important study and research center for visual arts. Participatory education is the foremost objective of our programs. Each year more than 38,000 children and adults enjoy the exhibitions, tours, classes, workshops and lectures we offer.