Frist Center for Visual Arts opens in Nashville

NASHVILLE -- Nashville now has a world class visual art exhibition facility with the opening of the Frist Center for the Visual Arts.

The $50 million, 125,000-square-foot center is located on the site of downtown's historic former post office, now restored.

It opened this spring with ceremonies and activities that included a performance by the Nashville Orchestra.

Its first exhibition in the main gallery, "European Masterworks: Paintings from the Collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario," runs through July 8.

Organized with Toronto's Art Gallery of Ontario, it features 95 paintings by European masters, including Tintoretto, Rembrandt, Monet, Degas and Picasso.

The center expects to be popular with visitors as well as residents.

"For visitors who return to Nashville, with our traveling exhibitions we'll always have something new," a spokesman said.

The three-story art deco building includes four other exhibition galleries, with the following now on display:

  • Art of the Americas from Nashville Collections, with more than 140 works, on view through March 10.
  • An exhibition on the post office from its opening in 1934, on view through Feb. 24.
  • Sculptures of local artist and fine arts professor Michael Aurbach, through Aug. 19.
  • A touring exhibition, "Modernism & Abstraction," from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, through Sept. 9.
  • There also is an orientation gallery to acquaint visitors with Frist's exhibitions and programs and the ArtQuest Gallery, with hands-on activities and interactive computer programs to help in the understanding of art.

    The center also has a media and technology resource center for those wanting to learn more about the works in the exhibitions.

    Other features are classrooms and a computer lab, a 250-seat auditorium, a retail store and a cafe.

    Funding for the Frist center included $19.9 million from the city of Nashville and $25 million from the Frist Foundation and the Frist family.

    The post office moved to another location in 1986. The building and adjacent land for parking were purchased in 1998, and work began on the restoration in 1999.

    The center is open daily.

    Admission is $6.50, with discounts for senior citizens, college students and groups.

    Those ages 18 and under are admitted free.

    For more information, call the center at (615) 244-3340 or visit its Web site at

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