Notre Dame, IN: The University of Notre Dame began construction last week on the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art, with a planned completion in fall 2023.
“Since its founding, Notre Dame has valued the vital role the visual arts play as an expression of human creativity, religious experience and insight into the human condition,” University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., said. “By bringing the collections currently in the Snite Museum of Art to new life in the Raclin Murphy Museum, we will be able to share these treasures in all their richness with our University community, our neighbors in the region and the wider world.”
With a site in the northwest corner of the Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park on the south side of the campus, the Raclin Murphy Museum will be an outward-facing structure, serving both as a gateway to the University and as a welcoming community partner. Carefully situated to work in harmony with the landscape and the outdoor collections of the park, the new museum will be surrounded by green spaces that will allow for the growth of the outdoor sculpture collection. The location was selected to contribute to the University’s arts district, which now includes the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, Walsh Family Hall of Architecture and O’Neill Hall of Music.
“This new museum building and its collection will bring together the healing power of the arts, of creativity and our strengthened humanity and solidarity — so needed as we move beyond the pandemic,” Marie Lynn Miranda, the Charles and Jill Fischer Provost of the University, said. “The diversity and inclusion represented in all forms of visual arts are gifts we must share and experience with one another.”
Designed as a 132,000-square-foot complex to be constructed in two phases, the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art will greatly enhance exhibition and education spaces for the permanent collection. Phase one will encompass 70,000 square feet devoted to gallery and teaching spaces, a café and retail space. The scale of the project resulted from meticulously studying the Snite Museum’s collection and exhibition requirements to best showcase its holdings. The plans were also researched in comparison to museums at leading peer institutions in the U.S. and Europe.
“Speaking in chorus with the entire museum staff, we are honored to begin this journey toward the new Raclin Murphy Museum of Art,” Snite director Joseph Antenucci Becherer said. “In addition to creating majestic new galleries and creative learning spaces, we are committed to honoring the dedication to the arts and hospitality that is the very spirit of the Raclin and Murphy families and sharing that with the world.”
Thanks to the leading benefaction of Ernestine Raclin and her daughter and son-in-law, Carmi and Christopher Murphy, the new museum is intended as a national attraction owing to the quality of its collections, the exhibitions to be mounted and its increased accessibility.
“Notre Dame, as a Catholic university, has always been guided by a sacramental vision, one that finds in the arts an expression of the divine and of the human spirit,” Father Jenkins said. “We are blessed by this extraordinary gift from Ernie, Carmi and Chris, who have yet again made a pivotal contribution to our campus and region.”
Ernestine Raclin is a Trustee Emerita of Notre Dame, a community leader and a generous supporter of the University. The Carmichael Foundation and her family made a lead gift to Notre Dame in 2011 to fund the renovation of the Morris Inn, the full-service on-campus hotel initially constructed in 1952 with a gift from her parents, the late Ernest M. and Ella L. Morris. She also contributed to Raclin-Carmichael Hall, the home to Notre Dame’s W.M. Keck Center for Transgene Research and the Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend.
Chris Murphy is chair, president and chief executive officer of 1st Source Corp. A 1968 Notre Dame graduate, he has served as CEO of 1st Source since 1977 and as a board member for 45 years. In addition to the Morris Inn, he and Carmi have supported Raclin-Carmichael Hall, the 1st Source Bank Commercialization Award and multiple other projects at Notre Dame. Chris Murphy serves on Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters Advisory Council, and he and Carmi are members of the President’s Circle and Gift Planning Advancement Committee. In addition to serving on the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, he is chair of the Medical Education Foundation and the Indiana Academy Board of Regents and is a member of the Board of the Independent Colleges of Indiana.
Carmi Murphy has served on the Snite Museum Advisory Council since 2007 and is a life board member of WNIT. She served for 15 years on the Saint Mary’s College board of trustees and now sits on the President’s Circle. She serves on the boards of the Michiana YMCA, Memorial Health Foundation and the Family and Children’s Center. Four of the Murphys’ children have Notre Dame degrees.
After a rigorous search culminating in January 2019, the University selected the New York-based design firm of Robert A. M. Stern Architects (RAMSA) to design the new museum. RAMSA previously designed the Stayer Center for Executive Education at Notre Dame and numerous other academic facilities around the country.
The goal for the new Raclin Murphy Museum is taken from the leadership of the Snite Museum to provide “Experience with significant works of art intended to stimulate inquiry, dialogue and wonder for audiences across the academy, the community, and around the world—all in support of the University of Notre Dame’s Catholic mission.”