Monday, December 11, 2023

CNU to absorb the Peninsula Fine Arts Center

NEWPORT NEWS — The Peninsula Fine Arts Center is moving to Christopher Newport University‘s campus and construction on the new building has already begun.

“We’re very excited to join with the university,” said Courtney Gardner, executive director for the center. “We’ve been talking about it since 2012.”

The nonprofit organization was founded in 1962 and is an accredited art center. It hosts multiple exhibits, art classes and other workshops. The building is right next to the Mariners’ Museum, hidden from the main road.

Gardner said CNU reached out to the PFAC in 2000 about merging but the fine arts center declined. In 2011, CNU asked the PFAC again and mentioned building an art center on campus.

Other reasons the PFAC agreed to move onto CNU’s campus was the opportunity to connect with college students, have more space to house larger art exhibits and not having to spend $5-$6 million on capital improvements to the center’s existing building, Gardner said.

According to the university’s Board of Visitors Capital Project Summary report from Feb. 15, the project is an addition to the Ferguson Center for the Arts and includes new studio spaces and offices for the fine art programs and a larger, “acoustically balanced” rehearsal hall.

“The current cost estimate is $57 million, fully funded by the state,” Jim Hanchett, public relations for CNU, wrote in an email.

Hanchett also said the university designs for the new building started in 2016.

Gardner said the new building will also have an elevator making the facility more accessible to the public. In addition, the center will establish new classes for children on the autism spectrum and expand their pre K-5th grade instructional programs to include middle and high school students.

And of course, studio space for CNU students, staff and interns.

The art center’s staff will become CNU staff and Gardner will report to the PFAC’s Board of Directors and CNU’s Board of Visitors, Gradner said.

For now, PFAC will continue operations as usual before the new building is complete.

“We are the only accredited art center on the peninsula,” Gardner said.

Construction on the new Peninsula Fine Arts Center is expected to be completed December 2020.

Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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