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Dr. William R. Harvey Museum of Art

In 2014, William R. Harvey, an alumnus of Talladega College, and his family, donated $1.3 million to Talladega College which established an art museum in Harvey’s name. Groundbreaking for the museum took place in November 2017. The State of Alabama, led by governor Kay Ivey, donated $1.5 million to the construction efforts. The ribbon cutting at the Dr. William R. Harvey Museum of Art was in January 2020 and the museum officially opened on February 3, 2020.

The museum is home to the world-famous Amistad Mutiny murals by Hale Woodruff. The murals are Woodruff’s most ambitious and successful undertaking in this format prior to the Second World War. The Amistad mural, which would become his best-known large-scale work, marked his place -- even if not fully acknowledged -- as a significant American painter of heroic sagas and narratives.

Woodruff’s first critically important mural, the Amistad Mutiny was dedicated in 1939. A separate but related mural celebrating the founding of Talladega College in Alabama was completed in 1940. The Amistad Mutiny mural project corresponded with the opening of the new Savery Library and the centennial year of the Amistad mutiny. Both mural projects paid honor to the American Missionary Association (AMA), which had grown out of the Amistad revolt and helped found Talladega College. With energy and excitement, Woodruff spent three months researching the events surrounding the mutiny. Nine months was spent painting the murals and preparing them for installation.

Three dramatic moments were chosen to tell the Amistad story: panel one shows the mutiny in progress, panel two presents the trial, and panel three depicts the return of the Mende captives to West Africa. Each panel is accompanied by interpretive text in the form of poetic verses.

The Murals have been exposed worldwide as historical treasures. Steven Spielberg’s movie, “The Amistad,” is the subject of this incident. In addition to inclusion in a number of textbooks, art books, magazines, etc., they were listed by Southern Living magazine as one of the “40 Best Things to See in Alabama.”

There are currently replicas on the walls of the library, with the originals being housed in the Dr. William R. Harvey Museum of Art at Talladega College.

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