Tuscaloosa Museum of Art offers a look at art history


CW File

Michael Dawson

Nestled away on Jack Warner Parkway is a sizable collection of historical art of the American West, the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art. The gallery has pieces from numerous American artists such as Edwin Forbes, Edward Hopper, Edward Virginius Valentine, Julian Scott and William Frye and is considered by those who work there to be a gateway into the world of American art.

“I think the entire museum is very important” said Kathie Thurman, an associate of the gallery. “I really appreciate the Hudson River School collection because they were the first artists trained as artists to paint in America and about American landscapes and seascapes. But some of our historical paintings are wonderful as well.”

Edward Hopper, an American artist, is one of the most notable artists in the collection. A realist painter and one of the most celebrated American artists, he is most famous for his painting “Nighthawks”. Some of his paintings are on display at the museum, like “Dawn Before Gettysburg,” one of only two historical paintings done by Hopper, according to Thurman.

The collection was amassed by art collector and Westervelt Company CEO Jack Warner, who established the museum back in 2003. It includes pieces that are both owned by the Warner Foundation and loaned out to the foundation, according to the Westervelt website.

“The building was designed by Cecil Alexander, an architect out of Atlanta,” Thurman said. “It was all because Jack Warner wanted a building that was not only functional, but beautiful, recalling his time spent in Burma with Asian architecture.” 

On their website tuscaloosamoa.org, you can find descriptions of each piece currently on display. The artwork is centered around the theme of the American west, the Revolutionary War and Civil War, but there are other galleries, Thurman said

“Our most unique piece would be the sculpture of John Hancock, which was a plaster proof made before the bronze proof,” said Thurman.

Despite the culture and interest, the museum still remains relatively unknown.  

“I started working here a little more than two years ago after I was informed by a family member” says Meghan Carruth, an associate of the museum. “Since I was the first person who knew about the job opening, they hired me immediately.” 

Carruth has always had a passion for art, and thought that working at the museum would be a great fit for her. 

“The Impressionist gallery is my favorite. I love impressionist pieces. It’s like looking at two art works in one, and each piece looks so different up close than when viewed from a distance,” she said.

Tours of the museum can be scheduled online at  tuscaloosamoa.org. The museum also hosts monthly events where people can come and participate in art activities, such as Art with Friends, which is on the third Thursday of every month each year.