The University of Arizona Museum of Art and Archive of Visual Arts

Museum Events

See also: Family Events | Docent Events

Tinkerlab After Hours Events






Limited spots available for each class – RSVP today by emailing
All events are from 5:30 – 7pm 

JULY 6: Make your own fused glass plates with Sonoran Glass School instructor, Jane. This class has a fee of $30 and is being offered to UA Museum of Art members at a $25 discount!

JULY 27: Drawing Salon with local artist and Drawing Studio Instructor, Mykl Wells. Make sure to bring your own materials: pencils and a sketchbook. This class is free to members and open to the general public with paid admission.

AUGUST 10: Make your own fused glass plates with Sonoran Glass School instructors, Virgil and Alex. This class has a fee of $30 and is being offered to UA Museum of Artmembers at a $25 discount!

AUGUST 24: Drawing Salon with local artist and Drawing Studio Instructor, Mykl Wells. Make sure to bring your own materials: pencils and a sketchbook. This class is free to members and open to the general public with paid admission.





TUCSON, Ariz. — Willem de Kooning’s “Woman-Ochre,” stolen the day after Thanksgiving in 1985, has been returned to the University of Arizona Museum of Art by a good Samaritan from New Mexico. Preliminary authentication confirms it is the famous painting.

The painting was cut out of its frame in a UAMA gallery by a man and a woman who followed a museum staff member inside at approximately 9 a.m. on Nov. 29, 1985. The woman distracted the security guard while the man went upstairs and cut “Woman-Ochre” from its frame with a sharp blade. The two hurried out of the museum and never returned. The heist took no more than 15 minutes.

The painting recently was purchased at an estate sale by David Van Auker, owner of Manzanita Ridge Furniture & Antiques in Silver City, New Mexico. The next morning, he put the painting on display in his store and quickly began receiving several comments about how it appeared to be an original work by de Kooning. Van Auker began researching the piece and discovered an article about the theft of “Woman-Ochre” from UAMA in 1985. The painting in the article looked identical to the painting sitting in his store.

Van Auker immediately called the museum to inform staff and to assure them he wanted only for it to be safely returned to the people of Arizona. Museum staff traveled to Silver City to retrieve the painting and safely returned it to a secure location in Tucson on Monday.

“It’s a great day for the University of Arizona and great news for the art world and people who care about public art,” said UA President Robert C. Robbins. “I want to acknowledge and thank David Van Auker. He’s the hero who worked so hard to make sure the painting was returned to its rightful home.”

The artist, de Kooning, was one of the pioneers and leaders of abstract expressionism, a movement that began in New York after World War II. It was popularized by artists including Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko as well as de Kooning, who began his “Women” series in 1950. The series, heavily influenced by Picasso, is considered monumental in the way that it imagines the human figure. In 2006, “Woman 3,” another de Kooning painting in the series, sold for $137.5 million.

The painting retrieved from New Mexico was preliminarily authenticated by world-renowned conservator and professor Nancy Odegaard of the Arizona State Museum.

Odegaard spent two hours completing a thorough visual examination of both the painting and the remnants left behind from the original. Several characteristics were consistent with the recorded history of “Woman-Ochre,” including documented repairs, alignment of the cut lines in the canvas and brush strokes on the recovered painting that lined up with marks on the convas remnants, and the painting was authenticated as the original work.

“This is a monumental moment for the museum,” said Meg Hagyard, director of UAMA. “We are thrilled at the possibility that this work could once again be on exhibit in our galleries. This is an especially poignant moment, as ‘Woman-Ochre’ was donated by Edward Joseph Gallagher Jr. as part of one of the largest gifts in the museum’s history. Having both the collection and that gift complete once again is something that we’ve always hoped for.

“This was one of the most important moments in my life,” Van Auker said. “I’m so grateful that I got to be a part of it. I’m forever bound to that painting, and to the U of A.”

“The thieves actually committed two crimes that day,” said Kimberly Andrews Espy, UA senior vice president for research, whose office oversees the art museum. “First, they stole an important signature painting from the University’s museum collection. They also stole more than 30 years of access from the public and scholars across the world, depriving them of the opportunity to appreciate, learn from and be inspired by a significant artist.”

At the time of the theft, Brian Seastone, chief of the University of Arizona Police Department, was a public information officer at UAPD and the lead investigator on the case. “I was always very optimistic that one day we would find the painting, but it’s hard to describe the emotion of it coming home,” Seastone said. “There’s this sense of relief and happiness. It’s a sense of calm. It’s back, it’s home, it’s where it should be. We know the art is worth an awful lot of money, but the story behind it is priceless.”


The University of Arizona Museum of Art offers a year-round schedule of exhibitions, programming, and events designed to incite conversations related to the history and meaning of the visual arts. The permanent collection includes masterpieces that span eight centuries and innumerable artistic styles. Highlights include the “Altarpiece From Ciudad Rodrigo,” “The Visitation” by the Master of the Catholic Kings, Jackson Pollock’s “Number 20,” Mark Rothko’s “Green on Blue (Earth-Green and White)” and “Red Canna” by Georgia O’Keeffe. The museum invites all community members to be a part of the dialogue and contribute their voices to the rich story of art in the Tucson community and beyond.

The University of Arizona Museum of Art is one of three University arts and cultural institutions that report to the Office of Research, Discovery and Innovation as part of the UA interdisciplinary arts, culture and society academic enterprise. More information about the museum, its exhibitions, programming and events can be found at



Media contact:
Chris Sigurdson
University Communications
Established in 1885, the University of Arizona, the state’s super land-grant university with two medical schools, produces graduates who are real-world ready through its 100% Engagement initiative. Recognized as a global leader and ranked 16th for the employability of its graduates, the UA is also a leader in research, bringing more than $606 million in research investment each year, and ranking 21st among all public universities. The UA is advancing the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships, and is a member of the Association of American Universities, the 62 leading public and private research universities. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $8.3 billion annually.

Saturday, September 16, 10:30 am
Please RSVP at 626-9899 or

Join UAMA Curator Olivia Miller for a guided tour of Nine Old Master prints from the Museum’s graphic collection. As part of the tour, she will discuss some of the issues encountered by visual artists working during the Reformation era.

In recognition of the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation, we will exhibit nine Old Master prints from its graphic collection. Through these works viewers will understand how art was used to shape public opinion about theological debates and their political and social ramifications. Prints by artists such as Pieter Bruegel, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Theodor de Bry illustrate some of the ways these messages were conveyed through biblical stories, portraits, and allegories.

Olivia Miller received her B.A. in Studio Art and Art History from the University of Arizona and her M.A. in Art History from the University of Oregon where her thesis research explored Spanish royal hunting portrait tradition, with particular attention paid to the works of Diego Velázquez and Francisco Goya. Currently a Ph.D. student in art history she has worked at the UA Museum of Art for five years. In addition to curating a wide range of exhibitions and leading the museum’s docent program, she also serves on the museum’s acquisitions and public art committees. Prior to her position at UAMA she taught art history for both high school and college levels and worked at multiple non-profit arts organizations in Oregon and Arizona.

To see additional events and workshops being planned to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, visit