The Board of Visitors authorized the preparation of working drawings for the museum in 1981 after Joseph L. Muscarelle (Class of 1927) and his wife Margaret P. Muscarelle gave the College of William and Mary a gift of $600,000. The Board of Visitors decided to name the building "The Joseph and Margaret Muscarelle Museum of Art" in honor of their donation. The museum was designed by Abbott Associates of Williamsburg. The groundbreaking ceremony was held on November 6, 1981 and was scheduled to be completed by September 1982. The museum was dedicated on October 21, 1983 and opened to the public the following day, on October 22. The color wall, "Sun Sonata," was a featured part of the museum's exterior at this time.
Phase II construction of an 11,000 square foot addition began in late fall of 1984. The groundbreaking ceremonies for this phase were held on November 2, 1984, with construction scheduled to begin in early 1985. However, construction did not begin on Phase II until March 1986 and was scheduled to cost approximately $1,146,000 to complete.
- University Archives Buildings File (2007). Muscarelle Museum. Earl Gregg Swem Library, The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia