Twyla Tharp once said, “Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.” Well, for those times when you want to leave but cannot get away, the University of Florida’s Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art has exquisite art to escape from reality and become transported into another world.
The Harn Museum has more than 40,000 square feet of exhibition space and showcases more than 10,000 objects that include African, Asian, modern and contemporary art and much more.
The 27-year-old museum was named in honor of Samuel Peebles Harn. Harn’s family pledged more than $3 million for the construction of the museum, which was the largest private gift ever given to the University of Florida at the time.
Since then, more families have donated money to enlarge and expand the museum, making it what it is today.
The Harn Museum of Art works with UF and the community to bring art to the public. The exhibitions are drawn from the museum’s own collections as well as from private lenders, artists, and other art museums.
The museum regularly showcases new exhibits. While there are ongoing exhibits, new collections are frequently displayed in the Harn, from as little as 2 months to sometimes as long as one year. Visitors can chose what they want to see and plan their trip based on the museum’s current and future exhibits.
In addition to the 40,000 square foot exhibition space, there is another 70,000 square feet of gardens, a 250-seat auditorium, a study center, a museum store, a café and classroom spaces.
Some of the museum’s gardens are accessible for visitors to walk through and see beautiful flowers and sculptures, while others are only viewable from the gallery.
If they get hungry while viewing the exhibits and gardens, visitors can take a break and eat at The Camellia Court Café located in the Mary Ann Harn Cofrin Pavilion.
After a quick bite, visitors can then stop by the Museum Store to purchase souvenirs associated with the exhibits and collections on display.
The Harn Museum also offers learning experiences for visitors of all ages. The museum holds talks and lectures from different guest speakers about the exhibits, and offer Museum Nights where once a month the museum is open from 6 pm to 9 pm for a night of performances, food, and art activities.
For younger visitors, the museum offers Family Days five times a year. During a typical Family Day, families tour the museum and every tour ends in a classroom where kids take part in art activities. Each year, the Harn also offers a 2-day Thanksgiving Break Art Camp where kids complete fun art projects, play games, and watch short films.
Visitors can check the Harn’s website calendar to find out when events are set to take place at the museum.
The Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday and closes at 5 p.m. Admission is free but donations are also accepted.
The Harn Museum of Art is undoubtedly one of Gainesville’s biggest attractions and a must see for locales and visitors. If you’re looking for an escape or just something to do, grab some friends or go alone to explore all of the art the museum has to offer. After all, Earth without A-R-T is just “eh”.