Discover African American art & artifacts at TSU’s University Museum

Photo courtesy of University Museum at Texas Southern University

Check out interesting and exciting works created by African and African American artists at the University Museum at TSU.

Located within the Texas Southern University campus in Third Ward, the University Museum aims to exhibit both past and present art and artifacts, the vast collections of TSU, and to provide programming and events that support the City of Houston.

Founded in 2000, the museum, which is located in the south wing of the historic Fairchild Building, has established itself as an authority on art from the African American legacies such as Dr. John Biggers and others of the vast African Diaspora.

Click here for more information on upcoming events.

Traditional African Art Gallery

Dr. John Biggers, a world-renowned artist, established the Art Department at Texas Southern University in 1949, setting a major goal for the University to develop a collection of traditional African art.

In the early 1970s, S.W. Mothershed, director of the University Library, used funds from the budget allocated for art books and library auxiliary funds to buy a few pieces of African Art. Mr. Mothershed also spearheaded the building of the Central Library African Art Gallery that presently houses the African Art Collection.

When the collection was established during the 1970s fewer than one dozen collections of traditional African art were located at historically Black colleges and universities. The Collection now contains 247 pieces of art from West African, Central Africa, and East Africa.

Click here for more information on the collection.

TSU Murals

The murals of Hannah Hall was an idea conceived and developed by Dr. John Biggers, to have senior art majors complete a mural as part of their graduation requirement.

Students were never censored as to the content of the mural whether it was personal or political, but Biggers was extremely strict in the execution of the murals, and if they were not completed within a timely fashion, or the technique was determined to be weak, the wall was then given over to another student.

Historically, this happens rarely because most students were inspired by the prospect of creating public art to be seen by hundreds and hundreds of visitors to the campus. As a result of this ambitious program, Texas Southern is the only university in the United States to have over 128 student murals on the campus, dating from 1949 to 2013.

Dr. John Biggers has three murals on campus including, Web of Life in the University Museum, Family Unity in the Sterling Student Life Center, and Nubia in the Jesse Jones Business Building.

University Museum at Texas Southern University

  • Location: 3100 Cleburne Street, Houston, TX 77004
  • Hours: Tuesday to Friday 10am to 5pm; Saturday and Sunday noon to 5pm; closed Mondays
  • Parking: Parking is available at the cross streets of Blodgett and Ennis Street using the Blodgett visitor’s entranceeet to Lot L. Parking validation is available for museum visitors
  • Admission: Free
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Cody Swann is a writer and musician born and raised in Houston. When he isn't recording or touring the country with his band, Wild Moccasins, he can be found covering live music and arts events for 365 Things to Do in Houston.