The University Museum is the realization of a dream that began with the very first administration of Texas Southern University and was kept alive by dedicated faculty of the Fine Arts Department. In 1949, President R. O'Hare Lanier promoted the idea of a "museum of Negro arts and history." Dr. John T. Biggers, Carroll Harris Simms and other art faculty promoted the concept in their teaching philosophy by systematically developing over four decades a unique collection of African and African American art with a major focus on the work of TSU art majors. Fifty-one years after Dr. Lanier's initial proposal the University Museum officially opened its doors. April 12, 2000 was a day filled with inspiration, reflections and reunion, and the anticipation of even greater dreams fulfilled.
The architects of the University Museum, Rey de la Reza and Darrell Fitzgerald successfully maintained the integrity of the original Fairchild structure while emphasizing the elegant beauty and contemporary grandeur inherent in the space. Here in this 11,000 square foot exhibition space, the historical meets the contemporary. The acoustics of the museum are exceptional and the music of classical violinist Rachael Jordan and jazz pianist Jason Moran have been among the many outstanding musicians who have brought the museum to life.
The museum is the permanent home of the mural masterpiece by John Biggers Web of Life. In this generous setting the mural can be truly studied to gain insight into the beauty and complexity of African American people. Similarly, the outstanding terra cotta sculptures created by students of Professor Carroll Harris Simms form a unique complement to the mural.