Exhibitions

Virtual Exhibitions

The National Sporting Library & Museum is excited to present on-line 360° virtual tours of current and past exhibitions. Virtual exhibitions are free of charge, overcome the physical barrier to access, and expand our mission to preserve and promote turf and field sports. To support the development of free virtual tours and other mission-driven programming at the NSLM, please consider making a donation for the continuation of meaningful online experiences.

A Horse of Course: The Equine Image in Art

A Horse of Course: The Equine Image in Art is a traveling educational exhibition organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts as part of the Virginia Statewide Partnership Program. It features 12 photographic reproductions of iconic works in the VMFA's permanent collections. Also on view are a selection of books from the National Sporting Library & Museum's collection inspired by the imagery.


Thrill of the ‘Chace: Steeplechase in Art
TO ENTER FULLSCREEN VIEW, CLICK RECTANGLE AT TOP RIGHT OF GALLERY.

First run from church steeple to church steeple in Ireland in the 1750s, steeplechasing, its early alternate spelling “steeplechacing,” has developed a rich history around the globe. Jumping fences, leaping ditches, and streaking across the countryside in brightly colored silks, skilled jockeys and their mounts have won the hearts and minds of spectators and artists across centuries. Now run on courses ranging from Aintree, England to Middleburg, Virginia, the excitement and passion of this sport has been immortalized in countless pieces of art. Thrill of the ’Chace showcases paintings, sculptures, and works on paper from the National Sporting Library & Museum’s permanent collection and venues from across the country.

The utmost appreciation is extended to Premier Sponsors Zohar and Lisa Ben-Dov and Mrs. Frances Massey Dulaney and Title Sponsors Marlou and John C. Gregory, Jr.; Naylor Family Foundation; Sam Slater and Lornie Forbes; Mr. and Mrs. Charles C. Fenwick, Jr.; Middleburg Spring Races; Montpelier Hunt Races; and Virginia Fall Races.


Recent Acquisitions: Benson and Pleissner
TO ENTER FULLSCREEN VIEW, CLICK RECTANGLE AT TOP RIGHT OF GALLERY.

In the spring of 2020, the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) received five important works of art by two well-known 20th-century sporting artists: Frank Weston Benson (American, 1862–1951) and Ogden Minton Pleissner (American, 1905–1983). The addition of these paintings increases the ever-growing footprint of angling and gunning subjects within the NSLM’s art collection.


In Bronze: Herbert Haseltine
TO ENTER FULLSCREEN VIEW, CLICK RECTANGLE AT TOP RIGHT OF GALLERY.

Join us in welcoming two new acquisitions by Herbert Haseltine: Percheron Stallion: Rhum and Percheron Mare: Messaline and Foal. These one-third life-size bronze sculptures were part of Haseltine’s well-known British Champion Animal series. He spent over a decade creating sculptures of prize-winning animals that included horses, cattle, rams, sheep, and boars in a range of sizes and mediums. Known for his equines, the other horse sculptures in this exhibition are from the NSLM’s permanent collection and provide a broader context for Rhum and Messaline and Foal. As these bronzes show, whether it was playing with the patina (color) or finding the perfect composite horse, Haseltine enjoyed experimenting with his work.


Angling in Special Collections
TO ENTER FULLSCREEN VIEW, CLICK RECTANGLE AT TOP RIGHT OF GALLERY.

The Angling in Special Collections exhibition features books, ephemera, and art focused on angling from the National Sporting Library & Museum's collections. The exhibit includes books from the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book room including a first edition of The Compleat Angler, a large collection of mounted and framed flies from the George Chapman collection, a bamboo fly rod built by Henry "Hank" Woolman III, and angling related artworks from the Museum's permanent collection. The NSLM also asked the public to participate in the exhibition by sending us photos of their best catches.

VIEW THE VIRTUAL EXHIBIT HERE


Phyllis Mills Wyeth: A Celebration
TO ENTER FULLSCREEN VIEW, CLICK RECTANGLE AT TOP RIGHT OF GALLERY.

A memorial exhibition celebrating the life of Phyllis Mills Wyeth (November 13, 1940–January 14, 2019) features a selection of portraits created by her husband, contemporary artist Jamie Wyeth. From the late 1960s, and throughout the decades of their marriage, Phyllis Wyeth was his muse. He created intimate works that capture moments from her life. Phyllis Mills Wyeth: A Celebration features 31 paintings and drawings and reflects Phyllis’ vibrant spirit and love of nature, horses, and her ever-present dogs.

The exhibition and accompanying catalogue were organized by the Brandywine River Museum of Art (Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania), the first venue. It then traveled to the Farnsworth Art Museum (Rockland, Maine) and the Greenville County Museum of Art (Greenville, South Carolina), after which the National Sporting Library & Museum (Middleburg, Virginia) was added as a venue. 

Wyeth’s local ties run deep. She was the younger sister of Middleburg resident Mimi Abel Smith, a Board member of NSLM and a lifelong sporting enthusiast who hunted with Orange County as well. Abel Smith has fond memories of their life in Middleburg. They grew up outside of the village on Burnt Mill Farm next to Hickory Tree Farm, a renowned Thoroughbred breeding, training, and racing facility founded by their parents, Mr. and Mrs. James P. Mills, Sr. “My sister loved to ride and jump horses and compete in point-to-points,” notes Abel Smith, “And she was very good at it.”

NSLM Executive Director Elizabeth von Hassell was a strong supporter of bringing Phyllis Mills Wyeth: A Celebration to the NSLM and notes, “The exhibition is an intimate tribute by one of the most recognized artists of our time to his wife, a loving testimony to their 50-year marriage, and the embodiment of Phyllis’s tenacious spirit. I can’t think of a more fitting location to celebrate Phyllis Wyeth’s sporting legacy.” 


Highlights from the Permanent Collection

A changing display of paintings, sculpture, works on paper, and objects from the National Sporting Library & Museum's Permanent Collection is presented in the Museum opened in 2011. The collection is installed in the historic wing of the Museum which was originally a Federal house built in 1804 called "Vine Hill." The NSLM's art collection continues to grow as a result of the Felicia Warburg Rogan Sporting Art Initiative, Mrs. Rogan's generous donation of prominent British paintings in 2008, and other significant donations and bequests. Above, please enjoy a 360° virtual tour of highlights from summer 2020.


Leading the Field: Ellen Emmet Rand

In 1936, on the heels of painting an official presidential portrait of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Ellen Emmet Rand held a solo exhibition. Though she had been a professional portrait artist for over three decades, this show was a departure from the paintings of captains of industry, socialites, artists, and children for which she had become known. The exhibition, Sporting Portraits  by Ellen Emmet Rand, N.A., was held at The Sporting Gallery & Bookshop in New York City, and subjects included well-known sporting figures such as Fletcher Harper, Master of the Orange County Hunt (now Orange County Hounds); Dr. Howard Collins, Master of Millbrook Hunt; and Charlotte Noland, founder of the prestigious Foxcroft School and Joint-Master of Middleburg Hunt.


The exhibition Leading the Field: Ellen Emmet Rand and accompanying catalog gather together many of the same paintings from Rand’s 1936 show, as well as others, to bring to life the stories, personalities, and relationships behind these works. Rand lived a remarkable life as one of the first successful, professional female artists in the United States. She was a lifelong equestrian, active in American foxhunting circles, and proved to be significant within the context of sporting history and culture during the first half of the 20th century.


Museum Hours

  • Friday & Saturday
  • 11:00am (Members Only)
  • 2:00pm (General Admission)

Library Hours

  • Tuesday - Saturday
  • By Appointment Only

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  • Mailing Address: PO Box 1335, Middleburg, VA 20118

  • Phone: (540) 687-6542

  • Email: info@nationalsporting.org