About the Museum

Hays Reflected on Hilliard

Our Museum is a bridge. Our Museum is a catalyst. Our Museum is for everyone. We connect art and education, our university and our community, generations and cultures.

The Hilliard Art Museum - University of Louisiana at Lafayette is not just a place to look at art. It’s a place where visitors are encouraged to truly see art.

It is place of learning, where students sketch in the galleries and artists talk about their work. It’s a destination for families, where kids express their own creativity through hands-on activities. And it’s a resource for academic research and observation.

Why do we maintain an art museum?

We believe that art is a catalyst for social change. Museum experiences build skills that extend into every aspect of life. Viewing art promotes dialogue and understanding between individuals, among families, and throughout our community.

Art makes life richer. And better. For everyone.


Mission Statement

To enhance the education of University of Louisiana at Lafayette students and inspire creativity through engagement with the arts for the Acadiana region.

The Museum seeks to achieve these goals by partnering with campus to present interdisciplinary exhibitions and programming with an emphasis on making, and through developing a collection that is relevant to our community and unique in our state.


Vision Statement

  • A belief that exhibitions and critical analysis produce benefits and skills for all visitors regardless of age, ability or background
  • A belief that gallery education, publications and interpretive programming provide individuals unique opportunities for self-expression and personal growth
  • A belief that objects of art and the experience of viewing art promotes dialogue and understanding between individuals, families, and communities and serves as an engine for positive social change

Museum History

The university’s art museum grew out of the dedicated work of College of Art faculty who produced exhibitions in Brown Ayres Hall on campus to complement their students’ learning.  In 1977 when the School of Art and Architecture moved into the newly constructed Joel L. Fletcher Hall, visual arts faculty member, Herman Mhire, was invited to serve as gallery director. As the exhibition program gained attention and recognition, a fundraising effort was championed by The Service League and other Lafayette-based philanthropists to create an art museum in Lafayette.  Maurice Heymann donated the land and made a lead gift to support the campaign.  Architect A. Hays Town designed the Art Center for Southwest Louisiana which opened to the public in 1968. Under the directorship of Frances Love, the Art Center offered exhibitions of fine and decorative arts as well as cultural programs to an eager and grateful community. 

When Frances Love retired in 1983, Herman Mhire was charged with merging the Art Center and the Gallery of the School of Art and Architecture into the University Art Museum which would be housed in Fletcher Hall and in the Hays Town-designed building.

During Mhire’s tenure, the University Art Museum’s exhibitions, publications and symposia brought notable artists to the region and provided rich cultural experiences for campus and community. Responding to Mhire’s vision to build a new museum, Lafayette residents, Paul and Lulu Hilliard made a lead gift of $5 million in 2001 for the construction of a new $8.5 million state-of-the-art museum establishing the largest exhibition space in the region from Houston to New Orleans.  The Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum (now Hilliard Art Museum) designed by Eskew Dumez and Ripple opened in April of 2004 and received seven national and regional awards including a national honor award from the American Institute of Architects.  

Mhire served as Director and Chief Curator of Exhibitions until his retirement in 2005.  Mark Tullos led the museum from 2006 through 2013 and hired curator, Lee Gray, who produced exhibitions at the Hilliard from 2007 through 2014.

LouAnne Greenwald was appointed director in 2014 with a vision to expand the museum as a center for campus and community engagement.  During her tenure the museum has increased its hours and staff, and annual visitation has grown 300%. Curator Ben Hickey, appointed in 2017, produces a diverse range of exhibitions each year, and educator Olivia Morgan produces educational programs to make the arts accessible to all ages.  The Hilliard Art Museum, with support from its campus and community, has become a cultural hub for our region.


The Permanent Collection

The museum's collection consists of 18th through 21st century European, Asian and American art works. Selections from the permanent collection are on view on a rotating basis. In addition to the permanent collection, the 11,000 square feet of gallery space features changing exhibitions of regional, national and international art. Learn more about the permanent collection.

The Birth of a Festival: A First-Person Account by Founding Director, Herman Mhire

Read here to learn more about how Founding Director of the Museum, Herman Mhire, participated in the founding of Festival International de Louisiane.

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