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backstory50: The Academical Village

The master plan for Purchase College was inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s master plan for the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

It’s quite a statement. Especially for those of you who have been to Purchase College as well as UVA. Brutalist (yes, I said it) brown brick as opposed to neo-classical white columned and pedimented red brick. I know. But it’s TRUE.

The concept for what Jefferson referred to as the “academical village” meant arraying the core campus buildings in a plan akin to the Greek letter π, keeping it compact so that all of the academic buildings would be within walking distance of each other with the tall rotunda-crowned library at the top of the π. At Purchase, planner Edward Larabee Barnes similarly arranged around the mall the academic buildings, including the Museum building, placing the very tall Performing Arts Center, the last core building to be completed, at the top. The birds-eye view shows it—it’s pretty hard to see it now since new buildings have been added to the mall.

You can learn more about the original design for the College and for the Museum in the 1969—1974 project of The Making of a Museum: 50 Years. It opened today.

Today’s 50th anniversary thank-you goes to O. Anthony Maddalena for his generous contribution in support of our golden anniversary and for his more than twenty years of service to the Museum as a member of the Board of the Friends of the Neuberger Museum of Art. In particular, Tony’s passion for architecture and music has inspired and, through his support, created many collaborations between the Museum and other organizations in the county.

Tracy Fitzpatrick
Director, Neuberger Museum of Art

Orange square with a white border and large numbers 50 with small letters neu overlapping the top of the 5 and the word Years beneath

Watch for a new backstory every Wednesday and follow us on social media as we share stories about the Museum’s history, our evolution to the present day, and look ahead to our exciting future. Stay up-to-date with the latest news and “NEU 50 Years” updates on our anniversary webpage.