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Theresa Pollak papers

Identifier: M 5

Scope and Contents

The Theresa Pollak Papers consists of materials covering Miss Pollak's academic and artistic career from 1917 to 1988 (primarily 1940s-1980s). Of particular note are the materials and correspondence Miss Pollak gathered about her major instructors influencing her artistic work, Allen Tucker and Hans Hoffmann. Also included in the collection are Christmas cards designed by Miss Pollak's former students and fellow faculty members and photographs of Miss Pollak's work and from her 1986 exhibit at the Anderson Gallery. A collection of slides of T. Pollak's works are available in box 20.


  • 1917-1996


Access Restrictions

Collection is available for research.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Biographical / Historical

Theresa Pollak (1899-2002) was one of Virginia's most well-known artists and art educators. She was instrumental in the founding of Virginia Commonwealth University's School of the Arts. A native of Richmond, Virginia, Pollak was a nationally recognized painter whose art works have been exhibited in institutions as the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Art in Boston, and the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D. C. More importantly, Pollak is credited with the introduction of modern art to Richmond.

Born 13 August 1899, Pollak graduated from Westhampton College of the University of Richmond. In 1920 she was accepted at the Art Students League of New York, and with the support of Dr. Orie Latham Hatcher, who helped her get a tuition scholarship, she was able to continue her work at the League after graduating from Westhampton in 1921. During Pollak's stay in New York, one of her drawings was awarded the first prize at the Studio club of New York (1926). She continued her training with post-graduate work at the Fogg Museum of Harvard University, and later she studied at the Hans Hoffmann School of Painting in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

In 1928 Pollak became the first full time art teacher at Richmond Professional Institute (RPI), at that time a division of William and Mary College. Two years later she also helped start an art program at Westhampton College. In 1935 she began teaching full time at RPI and devoted much of her other time to her own work. A year after RPI merged in 1968 with the Medical College of Virginia to become Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), Pollak retired from the school. In 1971, the newly completed fine arts building on what is now the Monroe Park campus of VCU was named in her honor. Her forty-one year teaching career influenced generations of Virginia artists.

A noted Virginia artist with paintings in the permanent collections of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the University of Virginia, Mary Baldwin College, and in numerous private collections, Pollak's paintings are part of the Permanent Research Collection at Virginia Commonwealth University's Anderson Gallery. She died at the age of 103 on 18 September 2002.


9 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Collection is arranged by series and alphabetically therein. Organized into the following seven series: I. Personal Materials, 1931-1986 -- II. Correspondence, 1938-1987 -- III. Richmond Professional Institute and Virginia Commonwealth University, 1946-1975 -- IV. Artistic Career, 1928-1976 -- V. Photographs -- VI. Year Books, 1917-1921 -- VII. Oversize Materials

A Guide to the Theresa Pollak papers, 1917-1996
A collection in Special Collections and Archives, James Branch Cabell Library, Virginia Commonwealth University, Collection number M 5.
Special Collections and Archives staff
2002 By Virginia Commonwealth University. All rights reserved.
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the VCU James Branch Cabell Library Repository

Special Collections and Archives 901 Park Avenue
Richmond Virginia 23284 USA US
(804) 828-1108