Lilley Gallery UNR

Gallery Review: The Lilley at University of Nevada

If you haven’t visited The John and Geraldine Lilley Museum of Art, known as “The Lilley” on campus at The University of Nevada, Reno, I am here to recommend that you do. You do not have to be a UNR student to visit, the museum is open to the public!

The Lilley is a stunning architectural space and a hidden gem in Reno! The 1st floor is a gallery space that features seasonal collections by established contemporary artists.

The 2nd floor is a museum space with over five thousand works of art acquired by private donors. The vast collection has pieces from ancient times up to the contemporary. The Lilley also functions as a research library; the museum hosts lectures, workshops, demonstrations, and screenings.

Where is The Lilley?

The 4000-square-foot new gallery and museum space is located inside the University Arts Building. It is centrally located on campus, building code UAB, building #079. See this link for a description and map.

Hours and Fees

Sunday and Monday: closed

Tuesday and Wednesday: noon-4pm

Thursday: noon-8pm

Friday: noon-4pm

Saturday: 10am-6pm

Admission is always free!

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The Current Painting Exhibition, 1st Floor

The current exhibit, Shane Pickett, Look at the Land that I Have Traveled, will be on view until May 8, 2020.

Shane Pickett, late Aboriginal Australian artist (1957-2010), was a contemporary artist that created these works in the final years of his life.

This type of painting is called gestural abstraction. Expressive brushstrokes emphasize the sweep of the painter’s arm and movement of the hand on the canvas; it can express the artist’s emotions and personality.

The Museum and Private Collection, 2nd Floor

When you’re visiting the Lilley’s gallery, make your way upstairs to the museum. You will see a private collection of artwork spanning centuries and get to peek into the storage area— there are objects not on view and hints at the depth and variety of the collection.

The Lilley is New and has Earned Architectural Awards

One of the reasons I am reviewing The Lilley is to bring visibility to this stunning architectural space. Once you visit you will be glad you did!

The building encompasses both the art and music areas of the University. This $35.5 million, nearly 42,500-square-foot project opened a year ago (February 2019) after almost two years of construction.

The Lilley has earned awards and honors for its design from architecture groups across the country. To see a list of awards and details about the construction see this article from Northern Nevada Business View. To read more about the builder and see pictures go to this article by Architect Magazine.


The closest parking structure is the Brian J. Whalen Parking Complex. You can walk south from the Brian J. Whalen Parking Complex along the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center quad or reach the museum through the skywalk connecting the Church Fine Arts Virginia Street entrance to the University Arts Building.

You can also park across from Manzanita Lake; there is visitor parking upon entering the campus from E. 9th Street. Here is a campus map. If you park by the Lake and walk north through the quad (the huge grassy area) you can meander your way to the University Arts building.

You’ll have a chance to see traditional red-brick buildings from the 1800’s built alongside modern architecture. The campus of UNR is gorgeous and filled with so much history. This route can be great for kids, too, because of all the open space.

Tip: Visit the campus on a Saturday. There is free parking on Saturday, fewer crowds, and the museum is open from 10am-6pm.

What I Liked About the Exhibit

This exhibit has 29 large scale works that create a unified collection. The whole family will love seeing these paintings. My son, age 3, also enjoyed gazing at the striking canvases.

These abstract landscapes give the viewer a window into rural culture and land. There is movement in the paint strokes, earth tone colors and textures. You can imagine elements like sky, wind, seasons, shadows, paths, and trailing dots of stars through the night. There is a dreamlike quality.

There is more to Pickett’s paintings than beautiful colors and textures. His art connects Aboriginal culture, ancestry, place, time, and his own mortality. You can read more about it in this article by Henry F. Skerritt, also available in a free booklet at the gallery.

Also, I noticed the architectural space, it is spacious and bright. The north-facing position of the gallery and museum allows daylight to enter the upper level. The floor to ceiling glass walls creates a front porch effect at the lower level, making it visible and inviting to the lobby areas and recital hall directly across.

Maureen Lowe
Maureen Lowe

Maureen Lowe is a Bay Area native that relocated to the high desert mountains of Southwest Reno with her family in 2017. Mama to her active pup and toddler boy, Maureen is a textile designer and graduate of CCA San Francisco. With a lifelong love of nature and the arts, Maureen has made it a mission to explore Reno’s scenic trails and cultural offerings to find kid and dog-friendly outings that work in all seasons.