Dr. Rebecca Nagy’s passion for the arts can be traced back to her childhood in a college town in Georgia, where she said her biggest influences were her teachers. Years later, she worked at the Cleveland Museum of Art and the North Carolina Museum of Art. Today, she heads the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida.
“When I traveled to visit Gainesville, my husband and I fell in love with the city,” she said. “When I was offered the position with the Harn my husband and I were both very happy. We both love the college town environment.” Nagy received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgia Southern University and earned her PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She credits her career in art to her early travels. “Traveling really fueled my interest in art,” she said. “I always liked traveling and going to museums, from the time I was a kid.”
The Harn is a 112,800-square-foot facility that houses more than 9,000 works of art in the collection. The collection areas are Asia, Africa, modern art, contemporary art and photography. In 2005, the addition of the Mary Ann Harn Cofrin Pavilion, which features a contemporary art display and café, created an increase in attendance and interest in the museum. This excitement and attendance increase was duplicated in the opening of the Cofrin Asian Art Wing in 2012. This integration often mimics the Gainesville community. As residents of downtown Gainesville, Nagy and her husband enjoy the many cultural amenities Gainesville has to offer.
“Gainesville is always getting bigger,” she said. As a member of the Chamber board, Dr. Nagy is a part of the changes and improvements in Gainesville. The museum plays a huge role in the intellectual atmosphere in Gainesville. The museum hopes to integrate more technology into the museum experience and is committed to presenting up-to-date, interesting exhibits throughout the facility. Current exhibits include “String of Pearls: Traditional Indian Painting” and “Life is a Highway: Prints of Japan’s Tokaido Road.”
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