In efforts to support young emerging artists the University Museum along with faculty members of Texas Southern University initiated the WHEEL Project in August 2013. The Wheel Project is an art dialogue and research tool, targeted on evaluating the viability of a central virtual repository of artist accomplishments and information for education purpose
The University Museum is the realization of a dream that began with the very first administration of Texas Southern University and was kept alive by dedicated faculty of the Fine Arts Department. In 1949, President R. O'Hare Lanier promoted the idea of a "Museum of Negro Arts and History." Dr. John T. Biggers, Carroll Harris Simms and other art faculty promoted the concept in their teaching philosophy by systematically developing over four decades a unique collection of African and African American art with a major focus on the work of TSU art majors.
Fifty-one years after Dr. Lanier's initial proposal the University Museum officially opened its doors on April 12, 2000. The architects of the University Museum, Rey de la Reza and Darrell Fitzgerald, successfully maintained the integrity of the original Fairchild building structure while emphasizing the elegant beauty and contemporary grandeur inherent in the space. In this 11,000 square foot exhibition space, historical meets the contemporary.
The acoustics of the museum are exceptional and the music of classical violinist Rachael Jordan and jazz pianist Jason Moran have been among the many outstanding musicians who have brought the museum to life. In its first year of operation, the Museum welcomed 30,000 visitors, many of whom had never before been on the TSU campus and a number of whom were from states and countries outside of the U.S.
The University Museum establishes Texas Southern as the only HBCU in the Southwest to have a museum of art of such stature. For the community served by Texas Southern University and especially the immediate area, the University Museum offers and elegant setting in which to enjoy the beauty of world cultures, public schools and churches frequently schedule tours and educational activities at the Museum. The museum is the permanent home of the mural masterpiece "Web of Life" by John Biggers. In this generous setting the mural can be truly studied to gain insight into the beauty and complexity of the African & African American people. Similarly, the outstanding terra cotta sculptures created by students of Professor Carroll Harris Simms form a unique complement to the environment and reflect the ascetics and standards of the art department at the University.