Cover Photo Image

Picturing Harrisonburg: Visions of a Shenandoah Valley City Since 1828
August 28 – October 14, 2017
Reception: Monday, September 11, 2017, 5-7p

Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art is pleased to present its inaugural Fall 2017 exhibit, Picturing Harrisonburg: Visions of a Shenandoah Valley City Since 1828, a collaboration between James Madison University’s Institute for Visual Studies and the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society. This is the first comprehensive exhibition to trace the history and transformation of this Virginia community over the course of two centuries. It includes more than eighty art works and images, from maps and paintings to postcards and photographs, many of which have never been seen before. Its five parts are ordered chronologically, each focusing on a significant moment in Harrisonburg’s history. Each part also features a distinct set of images, from the first hand-drawn plan of the town, completed in 1828, to the graphic designs and logos of the twenty-first century. This wide range of visual materials also demonstrates how different kinds of images create new ways of understanding the past and present, and of envisioning the future.

Tracing how visions of a place shift over time can reveal a community’s values, how they evolved and what they mean. While Harrisonburg has a unique history and distinct character, the challenges it has faced over the past two centuries are familiar to many other communities, towns, and cities. This exhibition offers a new way of understanding how places evolve.

Harrisonburg has been a vital agricultural, commercial, and political center since the eighteenth century. Today it is the largest city in the Shenandoah Valley and an educational center with a metropolitan population exceeding 100,000. But the city’s roots lie in the evolution of the American frontier. Picturing Harrisonburg offers a unique view of how a quintessential American town became a prominent urban place on the American landscape.

This exhibition is made possible by James Madison University, the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society, Funkhouser Real Estate Group, the Margaret Grattan Weaver Institute for Local History and Culture, Bridgewater College, and an anonymous donor.

The accompanying book to the exhibition is Picturing Harrisonburg: Visions of a Shenandoah City since 1828, by David Ehrenpreis, published by George F. Thompson Publishing.


September 1, 2017, 5-8p: First Fridays Downtown
Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art

September 1-29, 2017: Looking for Rocktown / Contemporary Depictions of Harrisonburg
Arts Council of the Valley

September 1 2017, 5-8p: Saved in Pen: Images of Lost Harrisonburg / Drawings by Fred L. Cooper
Massanutten Regional Library

September 1-29, 2017: Harrisonburg: Unfiltered / 22 residents document using instant photography
Larkin Arts

September 1-29, 2017: Court Square’d / Glimpses of Downtown Harrisonburg: 6 x 6” format
Laughing Dog T-Shirts, Gifts, and Art Gallery

September 11, 2017, 5-7p: Exhibition Reception
Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art

September 19, 2017, 11-1p: Opening Reception
Who Wore What Here? / A century of garments, many worn by city residents
Institute for Visual Studies, JMU, September 19 - October 26, 2017

September 21, 2017, 7p: Lecture: Scott Suter, Harrisonburg’s Postcards and Community Vision
Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society

October 5, 2017, 7p: Film & Lecture: Shaun Wright, The Rural Co-op, Pare Lorentz and the New Deal Documentary in Rockingham
Massanutten Regional Library

October 12, 2017, 6p: Screening: Citizen Jane: Battle for the City
Duke Hall Room 2036

December 1, 2017, 7p: Harrisonburg: The Musical / JMU student performance inspired by Harrisonburg history
Court Square Theater

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