Skip to main content

Louisville (Jr.) Art Gallery Records

Identifier: 1990_107-UA

The Louisville (Junior) Art Gallery collection is arranged in six series: 1. General (Administrative) Records, 2. Minutes of the Board, 3. Publications, 4. Exhibits, 5. Scrapbooks, and 6. Photographs. The collection focuses on exhibits for children. Boxes one through six contain working files for nearly every exhibit and show sponsored by the art gallery from 1950 through 1982. (See the folder title list for details.) Series five - scrapbooks, dating from 1950 to 1970, complements the exhibit material by providing review articles from the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Louisville Times. Press coverage also contains interviews with art gallery members and the artists exhibited and photographs.

Series one, two, and three (boxes 9-16) are the administrative records of the organization. Most of the published items advertise exhibits and shows and promote the gallery programs. They date from 1950 to 1988. Also included are copies of a printed history of the art gallery's first five years of incorporation. Box seventeen contains the minutes of the meetings of the art gallery's board of directors (with a card index) for the years 1949 to 1988. The general records also include newsletters, membership lists, articles of incorporation and by-laws, budgets and other financial records, correspondence, some information about exhibits, shows, and classes, annual reports, and some employee information.


  • circa 1949-1988


Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has been transferred to the University of Louisville and there are no additional restrictions.


26.25 linear feet

Organizational history

The Louisville Art Association was founded in 1909 by a local group of artists and art enthusiasts. Its purpose was to promote art and culture in the city by exhibiting the works of well-known painters and sculptors. The association's organizers hoped to receive sufficient funding from private and business sources so the public could view the shows free of charge. Almost immediately after its incorporation, association administrators secured the use of the third floor of the Louisville Free Public Library on York Street for its exhibits, the first of which occurred in June 1909. That show featured thirty-five of the most prominent artists of the early twentieth century: Mary Cassatt, Frederick Remington, and Charles Dana Gibson to name only a few. An estimated 4,000 people attended the event. The First World War proved disruptive to the efforts of this organization and its offshoots, but by 1920 it had regained its momentum.

Believing that too much attention was being given to New York and international artists, a group of local artisans separated from the art association in 1910 and formed their own organization, the Louisville Artists League. This group's purpose was to encourage and promote local artistry. Four years later, still another group, the Handicraft Guild, formed their own association so they could exhibit the works of local craftworkers who were not painters or sculptors.

In 1925, the Louisville Art Association initiated its Children's Free Art Classes which were taught by Fayette Barnum, an instructor for the Handicraft Guild. Four years later the Handicraft Guild opened its own school, the Art Center School, and changed its name to the Art Center of Louisville. Fayette Barnum became the Guild school's first director.

Nearly a decade after its opening, Raymond Kent, President of the University of Louisville, asked the Guild to move its Art Center school closer to the UL campus so students could conveniently attend courses at both sites. Mrs. Morris Belknap donated a brick house located on South First Street and the Carnegie Foundation awarded a $5,000 grant enabling the Art Center to accede to Dr. Kent's request. This marked the beginning of a long fruitful association between the two schools. In 1943 the Art Center of Louisville and the Louisville Art Association merged to become the Art Center Association. A one million dollar bequest from Marcia S. Hite prompted UL to establish the Allen R. Hite Art Institute in 1949. Despite this, the university and the Art Center school continued their relationship until 1960 when they at last parted ways.

In 1950 the Junior Art Gallery was founded. The gallery was located on the top floor of the Free Public Library, the site of the Louisville Art Association's first exhibit. In 1954, the Art Center added Dr. Spafford Ackerly, a psychiatrist, to its board of directors, a move that would eventuate in the establishment of UL's Institute of Expressive Therapies.

In 1968 the Art Center School's name was changed to the Louisville School of Art and its emphasis was shifted away from being a community cultural organization toward a professional institute. In 1969 the school was moved to Anchorage, in the east end of Jefferson County. Five years later, the school was incorporated as an agency separate from the art association. In 1981 the school returned to the city occupying the Cloister on East Chestnut Street. For financial reasons the Louisville School of Art was forced to close in 1983. It was absorbed by the University of Louisville which awarded its first B.F.A. degree in the spring semester of the following year.

In 1977 a Visual Arts Advisory Council was formed to obtain advice and ideas from local professional artists. The Louisville Art Center Association moved to the Water Tower on River Road in May of 1980. Under the directorship of Jan Arnow, the Water Tower Art Association began sponsoring annual events not only to showcase the talents of local artists and craftworkers, but also to raise money for them and for the association. In 1984 the association again changed its name to the Water Tower Art Association in order to identify itself with its new home. The Water Tower Art Association, like the Louisville Art Association, is dedicated to serving the needs of the artists of this community as well as the community's need for art.

Much of the information in this history was extrapolated from Madeline Covi, Dorothy Kohnhorst Hodapp, and Charlotte Price, compilers, Tapestry of an Art Association, 1909-1984, Louisville: Water Tower Art Association, 1984.


Louisville (Jr.) Art Gallery Records
Archives Staff
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Louisville Archives and Special Collections Repository

Ekstrom Library, Lower Level Room 17
Louisville KY 40292
502 852-6752