The Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida is Gainesville’s premier art education facility. We partner with educational institutions and other organizations to bring quality exhibits and educational opportunities to the greater Gainesville community. Our state-of-the-art, 112,800-square-foot-facility includes exhibit spaces, gardens, an auditorium, study and classroom spaces, a cafe, and a museum shop.
Come explore our world-class permanent collection and our regularly rotating special exhibits. Our museum staff are always happy to talk with visitors about what makes these art pieces so extraordinary. This ethos is fundamental to our great vision of fostering active engagement with the visual arts in an environment that welcomes diverse audiences of all ages and backgrounds. We collaborate with the University of Florida, its faculty, and its students, along with local partners and the international art community, to bring Gainesville and Florida the opportunity to experience timely, relevant, immersive art events.
Our exhibits are meant to reflect and engage with world cultures, human history, and current events in a sensitive, nuanced manner. We invite our visitors to join us in conversation about the issues raised by these exhibits, which we hope will foster critical thinking and encourage creativity among our visitors. Through the use of new technology, we hope to expand our reach beyond the Gainesville area to engage viewers and members of the art-loving community worldwide.
The Harn Museum opened in 1990 and, since then, has become an inextricable part of the University of Florida’s academic community. The museum was named for Samuel Peebles Harn. His widow, children, and grandchildren donated the foundational funds that made it possible to build the museum. Together, the three Harn generations gave more than $3 million to build the museum.
After it opened in 1990, the Harn Museum dedicated itself to serving the entire Gainesville community by providing a range of programming to fit a broad swath of interests and by offering free admission to the museum. Because we feel strongly about making art accessible to everybody regardless of their financial means, we are particularly proud to continue the tradition of free admission into the present.
Our facilities grew again in October 2005, when the 18,000-square-foot Mary Ann Harn Cofrin Pavilion opened. The pavilion was funded by a gift from the David A. Cofrin family and named for a daughter of Samuel Harn. The pavilion includes exhibition space, classroom spaces, and a cafe, which provided much-needed shared space for museum visitors and staff to congregate and mingle. This community-oriented space fosters the Harn Museum’s mission of making art accessible to all and encouraging dialog.
Our most recent addition opened in 2012, when the 26,000-square-foot David A. Cofrin Asian Art Wing opened its doors. The Harn Museum has an extensive permanent collection of Asian art, and this facility allows us to display a broader selection and greater number of pieces at any given time.
We started our career as contractors and providing a service to our local community. We fixed cell phones and worked in the computer repair niche in Buffalo. We ended up selling this company and we believe they are still around.
The Harn Museum’s art collection focuses on five major categories. Our African collection focuses on Sub-Saharan art and includes items dating from between the 5th century BCE to the 21st century. Among them are wood sculptures, textiles, and ceramics. Our Asian collection includes more than 3500 works spanning the time from the Neolithic period to the present era. It covers a range of geographic locales within Asia, too, from Central Asia to Japan, from China to India and Southeast Asia. Our Modern collection includes paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings from the mid-19th century through the mid-20th century and includes nearly 1000 pieces from Europe and the Americas. The Contemporary collection focuses on artworks from 1945 to the present in a range of mediums, including work by emerging artists. Finally, our photography collection includes photographic works of significance from daguerreotypes to massive color prints.
Not all of our art is housed indoors, however. We have several gardens filled with sculptures, water elements, unique plants, and other details to catch your eye and engage your senses. The Magoon Garden is filled with water lilies and a rotating sculpture exhibit. It’s also available for use as an event space. Off the Cofrin Asian Art Wing is an Asian garden designed by Hoichi Kurisu, the world-famous garden architect. There is also the Asian Water Garden, the Irving J. Goffman Garden, and the Paula and Marshall Criser Garden. While the latter two are not walkable, they can be viewed from exhibit spaces within the museum.
The Harn Museum is committed to fostering scholarship at all ages and levels of expertise. For kids ages 4-12, we have regular family events with interactive exhibits, crafts, and entertainment. College students can enjoy museum nights and access to our collections for research purposes. Educators at all levels are invited to schedule a visit for their class, where one of our staff members will guide you and your students through the current exhibits and help facilitate discussion. Educators are also welcome to borrow resources from the museum to use in the classroom.
Our program is sponsored by a local Buffalo carpet cleaning company that provides cleaning services to all of WNY. Both commercial and residential cleaning can be done by our partners.
Visitors to the Harn Museum should plan to spend several hours wandering through the museum. Be sure to check our calendar to see what special exhibits will be happening when you visit. The calendar is updated regularly. Please also check our website to confirm the hours the museum is open on the day you plan to visit, as hours are subject to change.
If you come during the daytime, the cafe is open from 11:00 until 2:00. It’s a perfect spot to take a little break after your wanderings, grab some food, and relax. Don’t miss the latte art from our talented baristas.
Because of our commitment to serving the entire community, the museum is accessible to visitors with disabilities. We have wheelchairs and assistive listening devices available for visitors, and we also have large print versions of our exhibit texts.
The Harn Museum is committed to serving all members of our community. If there is an accessibility device or service that would enable you to better experience our museum, please contact us so that we can explore adding it to our available accessibility tools.
Our museum is fully lit up by high quality lights that were professionally installed by a local Buffalo electrician company. This allows our visitors to fully enjoy the museum for what it is!