News Archive

Highway Marker to Note Secret Site for Art

Dedication of marker scheduled for Dec. 2

11/21/2005 3:13:56 PM


LYNCHBURG, VA. − On Dec. 2, 2005, at 10 a.m., the Maier Museum of Art will dedicate a historical highway marker commemorating its role as a confidential storage site for the National Gallery of Art. The ceremony will take place at the corner of Quinlan Street and Rivermont Avenue in Lynchburg. The public is welcome to attend.

Dr. William F. Quillian, Jr., president of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College when the building was originally dedicated in December 1952, will speak. Assisting in unveiling the marker will be Lynchburg resident Mary Spencer Craddock, whose father, Theodore H. Jack, served as the College’s president during construction of the facility.

The historical highway marker program is managed by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. The Maier Museum of Art’s marker was approved by the Board of Historic Resources at its June 2005 meeting.

“We are honored that the Board of Historic Resources approved our application for a marker,” said Karol Lawson, museum director. “This building has a unique history. It is truly a relic of the Cold War. As time goes by, preservationists are realizing that it is important to acknowledge such 20th -century structures though they may seem commonplace. They can actually teach us a great deal.”

In early 1951 Randolph-Macon Woman’s College was chosen to be the site of a confidential storage facility for use by the National Gallery of Art in the event of a national emergency. In exchange for the ownership and eventual use of the structure the College agreed to maintain the facility and to make it available for emergency use by the National Gallery of Art for a period not to exceed 50 years. Dubbed “Project Y” by Gallery administrators, the confidential building was constructed under the supervision of Gallery staff and with the support of the A. W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust. The structure was finished in the spring of 1952 and cost just under $250,000 to build. Simply called “the art gallery” by R-MWC faculty, staff, and students, the facility was dedicated Dec. 11, 1952.

Though the College used the front rooms of the Art Gallery to display portions of its notable collection and for special exhibitions in the 50s and 60s, the building was not fully utilized until renovations in the mid 1970s, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, made it more practical. Subsequent renovations in 1981-1982 and an endowment established in 1983 by the Sarah and Pauline Maier Scholarship Foundation transformed “Project Y” into the Maier Museum of Art known to today’s visitors.

Visit on-line at

| |

CONTACT: Brenda Edson, Director of College Relations