Following an award winning renovation, Mechanical Hall reopened in 2004 as the home of the Paul R. Jones Collection of African American Art. This gift to the University by the Atlanta collector Paul R. Jones has served as a point of departure for a growing collection of African American art.
The African American art collection includes the founding Paul R. Jones gift, a broad range of prints from the Brandywine Workshop in Philadelphia, important photographs by P.H. Polk and representative works by Delaware artist Edward L. Loper, Sr. The gallery in Mechanical Hall offers changing exhibitions of African American Art drawn from the University’s collection and elsewhere. Mechanical Hall houses a print room for the use of those studying objects in the collection.
The Paul R. Jones Initiative fosters educational inquiry, interdisciplinary engagement, and critical thinking with and through African American art at the University of Delaware. Founded in conjunction with the gift of the Paul R. Jones Collection, the Initiative supports a broad range of programming intended to strengthen the collection and its interconnectivity with campus life and community. The Initiative supports faculty and student teaching and research related to the collection and curricular outreach related to American art and culture in dialogue with Africa and its diaspora.
Built in 1898, Mechanical Hall is on the National Register of Historic Places. Its purpose changed throughout the twentieth century, serving as an engineering building, an athletic training center, a residence for GI’s returning to school after World War II, and a ROTC building.