Bringing visual arts, performing arts and arts education to Martinsville-Henry County since 1961.
Located in the heart of Martinsville’s Arts and Cultural District, Piedmont Arts is an award-winning art museum that curates thought-provoking exhibitions by international, national and regional artists. The museum also offers performing arts, from concerts to plays to children's performances, and art classes for all ages. Experience the arts around town with a visit to the museum's Gravely-Lester Art Garden or take a public art walking tour.
Igniting a Passion for the Arts
Piedmont Arts inspires and engages the diverse Martinsville-Henry County community and surrounding areas through visual arts, performing arts and arts education.
Piedmont Arts has been part of the Martinsville-Henry County community since 1961, when the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts encouraged the formation of a statewide network of local chapters.
During its formative years, Piedmont Arts was a chapter member of the VMFA with no staff, permanent meeting site or gallery space. Local banks and churches provided free use of their facilities for meetings and exhibitions. As membership increased, the group sought a permanent facility. This goal was fulfilled in 1976, when E.I. DuPont deNemours Company agreed to lease Piedmont Arts a company house.
Named after the first DuPont manager to live there, the Lynwood House provided space and resources for local artists to use as a studio and an area in which to show their work. A group of local practicing artists, who came to be known as the Lynwood Artists, assumed the responsibility of selecting and hanging exhibitions by regional artists and craftsmen. With a permanent base of operations, the informal group of the past became a professional arts organization.
The group was incorporated in 1976 and adopted the name Piedmont Arts. Piedmont Arts assumed new status with the VMFA, becoming an “Affiliate” on May 25, 1978, the tenth to do so statewide. This entitled Piedmont Arts to the vast resources of the VMFA including exhibitions, consulting services, visiting artists/educators, and lecturers.
Piedmont Arts experienced dramatic growth in 1981 when the heirs of the late Michael "Big Mike" and Purnell Schottland donated the Schottland Estate to the organization. The benefits of acquiring the estate were many: an excellent location, an elevator for handicapped access, expanded gallery space, enlarged studio space, and ownership rather than a lease arrangement. Anticipating a new facility, Piedmont Arts launched a membership drive and capital improvement campaign. In less than six months, the organization had tripled its membership to 500. The results of the capital improvement campaign were equally successful. Through corporate and individual pledges, Piedmont Arts raised more than necessary for renovations. The remaining sum, coupled with a large influx of contributions, was used to establish an endowment.
Over the next decade, Piedmont Arts programming expanded dramatically. In response to needs in public schools, Piedmont Arts developed an expansive program of artists’ residencies, performing arts and other classes for area students. The performing arts series, begun in 1991, become an important part of the cultural life of the area.
In 1995, Piedmont Arts launched its Shared Vision Campaign, designed to raise $3.5 million to renovate and expand the facility into a full-fledged museum, in addition to adding $1 million to the endowment. In April 1997, ground was broken for a new wing, and in April 1998 the new state-of-the-art museum opened.
Today, the museum boasts a performance hall, seven galleries, a large classroom, a reference library and a Discovery Room for children. The museum continues to curate thought-provoking exhibitions by international, national and regional artists, and offering performing arts, events, and art classes. Piedmont Arts also created a public art walking tour, spotlighting murals and sculptures throughout Martinsville's Uptown, and in 2017 opened its Gravely-Lester Art Garden, making the arts even more accessible in the community.
Awards + Distinctions
|Virginia Alliance for Arts Education’s Distinguished Service Award||1991|
|Accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums||2003|
|Dominion ArtStars Shining Star Award||2011|
|$25,000 Our Town Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts||2016|
|Virginia Commission for the Arts 50/50 Award, Bedrock Institute||2018|
|Reaccreditation by the American Alliance of Museums||2019|