Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Meadows Museum of Art

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Institution Name: Centenary College of Louisiana
Original/Historic Place Name: Arts and Sciences Building
Location on Campus: 2910 Centenary Blvd.
Date(s) of Construction:
1925original construction Nield, Ed
Designer: Ed Nield
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Beaux-Arts classicism, Colonial revival, Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Materials:
Foundation: concrete
Walls: brick
Roof: composition shingle
 
Function:
ca. 1925library
ca. 1925classrooms
1925-1971administration
ca. 1976-present (2006)museum
1976-present (2006)other (curator offices)
1976-present (2006)other (business offices)
1976-present (2006)auditorium
ca. 2004-present (2006)other (art storage and archives)
 

Narrative:
The Meadows Museum is an especially good example of Colonial Georgian Revival architecture. Built in 1925 as the Arts and Science Building, only the second building on campus, it also housed the administrative offices of the College until 1971 and was, for a time, the campus library. Its contributions to the College for 50 years in these capacities were important but have been eclipsed by the building's role these last 28 years as a museum. In 1975, as the result of a gift from the late Algur Meadows, a Dallas oilman and alumnus of the College, and the occasion of the College's 150th anniversary, the structure became an art museum that opened the following year. Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the building contains permanent collections, featuring most notably 360 works in a variety of media by Jean Despujols. Despujols, a Neo-classicist and an academician, had been commissioned in the early 1930s by the Societe des Artistes Coloniaux in Paris to depict the life of French colonies in what are now Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam (French Indochina). The result of Despujols' efforts was a stunningly beautiful collection of portraits, landscapes, and pictures of animals, riverboats, and temple ruins. His works are recognized now not just for their exceptional beauty and talent, but also for their historical preservation of Indochinese colonial architecture and culture, much of which has now all but disappeared. Featured in National Geographic and on NBC's Today Show, the first US showings of the permanent Despujols exhibit took place at the Smithsonian Institute and the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum in 1950.

Meadows museum houses other worthy collections and objets d'art, including a Kimball Collection of paintings, prints, drawings and sculptures from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries; the Stein Collection of Don Brown paintings; Fijian and Samoan objects; the second largest collection of Inuit art; and other works. The museum hosts a constant stream of temporary exhibitions, including works from the Bezalel Academy of Israel and the light sculptures of Isamu Noguchi. A particularly notable exhibition was an assemblage of contemporary sketches, prints, and drawings from the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Gardens of Washington, DC. Meadows Museum makes its offerings available to the public and area school children in an effort to provide a cultural center for the community and the region.
 

References:

Bryson, Helen R. "A History of Centenary College." M. A. thesis, Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, 1941.

Centenary College, The College of Louisiana. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1979.

East Feliciana Parish Records. Clinton and Jackson, LA.

Fay, Edwin W. The History of Education in Louisiana. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1898.

Nelson, William H. A Burning Torch and a Flaming Fire: The Story of Centenary College of Louisiana. Nashville, TN: Methodist Publishing, 1931.

Varnado, Otto W. "A History of the Early Institutions of Higher Learning in Louisiana." M. A. thesis, Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, 1927.

 

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Last update: November 2006