About Museums at W&L

The Museums at Washington and Lee University (Museums at W&L) support the university as an interdisciplinary teaching resource through the preservation, study, interpretation and exhibition of its collections. The Museums at W&L are composed of three areas that are administered collectively by the Director: The Lee Chapel & Museum; the Reeves Collection; and the Art Collection.

The Lee Chapel & Museum - The Lee Chapel and Museum, named a National Historic Landmark in 1961, sits at the heart of Washington and Lee University, where Robert E. Lee served as its 11th president (1865-1870). Completed in 1868, the building includes a 500-seat auditorium, which is used as it was in Lee's day for lectures, concerts and other university events. The 1883 addition to the chapel features a statue chamber, including The Recumbent Lee by Edward Valentine, as well as a crypt for the Lee Family. Downstairs, Lee's office remains open for view, and a museum, opened in 1928 and renovated in 1998, features an exhibition that traces the history and heritage of Washington and Lee University, as well as a changing exhibition gallery and an expanded museum shop. The museum is open daily to the public.

The Reeves Collection - Washington and Lee's ceramics collection spans over 4,000 years of human history and includes ceramics from Asia, Europe and America. It is especially rich in Chinese export porcelain made for the American and European markets between 1600 and 1900. The collection is displayed in the Reeves Museum of Ceramics, an 1842 house that also houses the paintings of Louise Herreshoff Eaton Reeves (1876-1967). The Watson Galleries include a Japanese tea room, portraits from the Washington-Custis-Lee Collection and a changing exhibition space.

W&L's Art Collection originated in the late 19th century, the result of three significant gifts by Dr. W. Newton Mercer of New Orleans (1874); Vincent Bradford, Esq. of Philadelphia (1884); and George Washington Custis Lee, 12th president of Washington and Lee University (1897). From this foundation, the collection has expanded for more than a century through gifts and bequests. The paintings, prints and sculpture that make up the collection are used as teaching tools by various academic departments, and many works of art are on display in public spaces throughout campus.

Mission Statement

The Museums at Washington and Lee University (Museums at W&L) advances learning through direct engagement with collections, stimulates appreciation of global cultures, and inspires leadership in the arts and sciences.

Teaching with the Museums at W&L

The Museums at W&L seek to facilitate the cross-disciplinary use of Washington and Lee's (W&L) art collection by creating a series of multidisciplinary lesson plans for use by the W&L community.

Collections Policy

Washington and Lee University is vested with ultimate responsibility for the safety and maintenance of the museum-quality collections that it owns.

Photo Requests

The Museums at Washington and Lee University (Museums at W&L) make images of its collection available for research purposes, presentations and publications. Requests for use of images are considered on a case-by-case basis.