Fisk University is the oldest institution of higher learning in Nashville, founded in 1866 as a liberal arts institution committed to educating newly freed slaves. Prominent 20th-century cultural figures, such as educator W. E. B. DuBois, artist Aaron Douglas, and poet Nikki Giovanni, attended the school. Fisk is perhaps best known for its Jubilee Singers, an African-American singing group that preserved spirituals, or slave songs, from extinction. The choir’s 1873 tour of the U.S. and Europe helped finance the construction of Fisk University, and some sources say it was Queen Victoria of England who heard them and said that the singers must come from the “Music City,” giving Nashville its name. Jubilee Hall, one of the oldest structures on the campus, is a Victorian Gothic gem listed on the register of National Historic Landmarks. Now used as a dormitory, the building houses a floor-to-ceiling portrait of the original Jubilee Singers, commissioned by Queen Victoria of England as a gift to Fisk. In another building, a neo-Romanesque former church that dates back to 1888, is the Carl Van Vechten Gallery, which includes works by Picasso, Cézanne, Renoir, and O’Keeffe in the Alfred Stieglitz Collection. The collection was donated to the university by Steiglitz and his wife, artist Georgia O’Keeffe, in 1949. The masterpieces, however, now split their time between Fisk and Crystal Bridges in Bentonville, Arkansas, on the wishes of their benefactor, and will return for their next 2-year stint in Nashville in 2020. In the meantime, the museum shows pieces from other artists, which will make it worth the trip for art aficionados but not the average museum-goer.
1000 17th Ave. N.
Our Rating Hours Tues–Sat 10am–4pm. Closed holidays and during college breaks. Phone 615/329-8720 Prices Free admission; donations encouraged Web site Fisk University
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