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May 9, 2013

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Harn Museum Explores the Creation, Meaning and Importance of Portraits

New Exhibition Opens May 28

First Exhibition at the Harn to Incorporate All Five of its Main Collecting Areas:
Photography, African, Asian, Modern and Contemporary Art

GAINESVILLE, Fla.—The Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida will present a new exhibition that explores the creation, meaning and importance of portraits. Spanning multiple mediums, time periods and places, Much Ado About Portraits includes more than 100 works of sculpture, paintings, ceramics, bronzes, photography, prints, drawings and film, dating from before the Common Era to the present day. Notable modern and contemporary artists featured in the exhibition, include: Umberto Boccioni, Diego Rivera, Isamu Noguchi, Maggie Taylor and Jerry Uelsmann as well as former and current UF Faculty members: Hiram Williams, Kenneth Kerslake and Richard Heipp. The exhibition is on view from May 28 through Sept. 8.

This exhibition will, for the first time, use examples from each of the museum’s main collecting areas to investigate the question of why we create portraits. Curators in each department submitted works for consideration and lead curator, Cofrin Curator of Asian Art Jason Steuber made the final selections. The Harn Museum’s collections consist of more than 9,000 works of art focusing on African, Asian, contemporary and modern art, and photography. Loans from private collections will also be included.

“Whether formal, religious, historical, imaginative or political, each and every portrait carries meanings intended by the artist, and those assigned to it by viewers,” said Jason Steuber. “It will be fascinating for visitors to explore those meanings and learn about the similarities and differences of portraits from different times and places.”

Steuber continued: “Portraits capture human moments, values and concerns of the society within which they were created. Subtle and direct effects are therefore embedded within each image by both the one producing the portrait as well as the one being portrayed.”

Also included are portraits and self-portraits of and by artists that experiment with the idea of what is considered a portrait, including Victor Hugo by Andy Warhol and Les Bijoux Indiscrets by René Magritte. The exhibition also touches on technology and the advancement of cameras and cell phones and the instant opportunities to create portraits.

Student and Faculty Engagement

High School Portraits
Included in the exhibition is a virtual display of portraits created by public and private high school art students from Florida, invited to submit work through their art teachers. Alachua County, Palm Beach County, Leon County, Pinellas County and Citrus County schools each have students who have been selected to participate.

UF Professor Emeritus Debora Greger and UF student Anna Mebel have been poets-in-residence at the Harn Museum of Art since January of 2013. Greger, an award-winning American poet, has been mentoring Mebel under the initiative of incorporating poetry into programs and exhibitions at the museum. Five poems, created by these poets-in-residence, will be on view in the exhibition beside the works that inspired them.

The museum is offering a number of related programs for audiences of all ages.

Gallery Talks
Harn Curators will each discuss their area of expertise in connection with the Much Ado About Portraits exhibition.

Sunday, June 2, 3 p.m.
Jason Steuber, Cofrin Curator of Asian Art

Sunday, July 21, 3 p.m.
Carol McCusker, Curator of Photography

Sunday, July 28, 3 p.m.
Susan Cooksey, Curator of African Art

Sunday, August 4, 3 p.m.
Kerry Oliver-Smith, Curator of Contemporary Art and Dulce Román, Curator of Modern Art

Family Day: Picturing Dad
Saturday, June 15, 1 – 4 p.m.
In honor of Father’s Day, families will tour the recently opened exhibition and then make a portrait of their father or an influential person in their life. This Family Day is made possible by the John V. and Patricia M. Carlson Program Endowment, and is free and open to the public. Contributions to support all Harn family programs are accepted with gratitude.

Museum Nights
A Midsummer (Museum) Night's Dream
Thursday, June 13, 6 – 9 p.m.
Entertainment and fun activities inspired by the work of Shakespeare will be offered on this evening.

Much Ado About Portraits is organized by the Harn Museum of Art and made possible by the Harn Program Endowment; the 150th Anniversary Cultural Plaza Endowment; the Londono Family Endowment; the Eloise R. Chandler Program Endowment; and the John V. and Patricia M. Carlson Program Endowment with additional support from Bob and Carolyn Thoburn (Sonny’s).

Admission to the museum is free. For more information, call 352-392-9826 or visit

Images are available for download at

About the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art
Founded in 1990, the Harn Museum of Art is an integral part of the University of Florida. The Harn contributes to an interconnected, international community by integrating the arts and culture into curricula throughout the university’s system of colleges and centers. Its holdings include more than 9,000 works in five main collecting areas: Asian art, African art, photography, modern art of the Americas and Europe, and international contemporary art. In addition to rotating installations drawn from its permanent collection, the Harn organizes traveling exhibitions, public lectures, panel discussions, academic symposia and educational programs for adults, students and children.

The Harn Museum, at Southwest 34th Street and Hull Road in Gainesville, Fla., is part of the University of Florida’s Cultural Plaza, which is also home to the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Admission is free.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. The museum is open until 9 p.m. the second Thursday of every month for Museum Nights. The Camellia Court Café is open Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information call 352-392-9826 or visit


Media contacts :
Tami Wroath
Harn Museum of Art
(352) 392-9826 x2116

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