Portraits of a City
August 17, 2011 — January 29, 2012
Views of Norfolk by Kenneth Harris
In 1950, as the city of Norfolk prepared for massive urban renewal demolition projects, the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences commissioned watercolorist Kenneth Harris to document city scenes before they were lost to history.
Harris responded by painting not only the city’s historical landmarks, but its downtown, docks, and coal yards—the city’s commercial and industrial heart. The resulting series of 30 watercolors proved to be an aesthetic triumph and an invaluable historical document.
After being exhibited at the Museum in 1952, the watercolors traveled to museums and galleries in the Southeast until 1954. By the time the paintings returned, several of the depicted sites had already been demolished.