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A Brief History

The Sheehan Gallery was created in 1973 to support the liberal arts curriculum of Whitman College and to serve as an intellectual and cultural resource for the Pacific Northwest community and beyond, through the collection, preservation, exhibition, and interpretation of historical and contemporary art.  In 1987, with the acquisition of the Davis Collection, this mission was expanded to include an emphasis on Asian art. In 1999 a Japanese tearoom was added to the Gallery to further this emphasis. This Tea Room (Chikurakken) is now housed in the Asian Studies Center at Whitman College.

The Donald H. Sheehan Gallery, named in honor of Whitman’s ninth president, is an important visual arts resource for the college and the Walla Walla Valley. Six exhibitions are mounted each season featuring contemporary art and exhibitions which focus on issues in art history and human culture. Symposia, lectures, films, and workshops are frequently offered in conjunction with these exhibitions. Sheehan Gallery manages the college’s Seafirst Bank. Thomas P. Davis Collection of Asian Art, which is now housed in the new Asian Studies Center and available to students and faculty for research purposes. The Sheehan Gallery offers employment for 10 students as well as internships for students interested in Contemporary Art, Art History & Visual Culture Studies, Asian Art, and Museum Studies. Sheehan Gallery exhibitions and programs are always free and open to the public.