The Richard E. Fuller Art Gallery (1962-85): A History of Arcadia University’s First Exhibition Space

Arcadia Exhibitions Presents

April 20  – October 11, 2015
Great Room Lobby, Commons

Gallery director Zina Goldsmith stands in the Fuller Gallery among the debris in the aftermath of the March 25 car accident.

Today Arcadia University’s main campus boasts four distinct spaces for exhibiting art, including the Commons Art Gallery and the Great Room Lobby in the Commons, as well as the Judith Taylor Gallery in the Landman Library. Anchoring the exhibition program is the internationally recognized Arcadia University Art Gallery. This year marks the 30th anniversary of that gallery’s move to its current location in the Benton Spruance Art Center.

The story of how the gallery came to occupy its present home, and how it developed the reputation it enjoys today, begins in 1962 when the college left its Jenkintown facilities and consolidated onto the Glenside campus. Precious space was set aside by the planners of the new library on the ground floor for a modest gallery to display the artwork of faculty and students.

The tireless efforts of dedicated individuals and notable artists such as Benton Spruance, John Hathaway, Ruth Fine, Jack Davis, Judith Brodsky, and Ann Williams elevated this space, in the words of the gallery’s first official director Zina Goldsmith Davis, into a venue “exhibiting the country’s leading contemporary artists, often [in] their first one-person show[s] in the Philadelphia area. Our major exhibitions with related lectures have become a focus of attention throughout the art community, and offers the public a unique opportunity to experience some of the most challenging art of our time in an intimate environment.”

Installation view, “The Richard E. Fuller Art Gallery (1962-85): A History of Arcadia University’s First Exhibition Space,” Great Roomy Lobby, Commons, Glenside, Pa., 2015

Artists who exhibited in the Fuller Gallery include Arakawa, Alice Aycock, Alex Katz, Lee Krasner, Barry Le Va, Robert Morris, Elizabeth Murray, Alice Neel, Katherine Porter, Dorothea Rockburne, and Miriam Schapiro. The story of this original exhibition space and its transformation is marked by extraordinary vision, a freak accident, and larger than life personalities. It is also a valuable glimpse at an important aspect of the history of the Philadelphia art community during the 60s, 70s and 80s).

Using photographs, artworks, documents, and other artifacts from the university’s archives, this exhibition chronicles the history of Arcadia University’s first exhibition space, the Richard E. Fuller Gallery. Photo Credit: Sam Fritch