Our Favorite 40 Museums – Part 1

As we celebrate our fortieth year in business we’d like to share with you some of the wonderful American art museums which have helped inform our understanding of American and European art. Sometimes built from personal collections, other times put together to fulfill a community need, these forty museums have allowed the public to engage with all types of art. In this four part series we would like to share with you some of our favorite US museums, with the understanding that this is just the beginning.

*Note this list of museums are not in any particular order.

1. Everson Museum of Art Located in Syracuse New York, our backyard, the Everson Museum was designed by the well-known architect I. M. Pei. Their main focus is on ceramics. and they also have a select collection of paintings, including works by Sanford Gifford, Gilbert Stuart, Edward Hicks, and Eastman Johnson.

Oliver Ingraham Lay "Two Friends"

Oliver Ingraham Lay “Two Friends” from the Everson Museum.

2. Historic Deerfield A classic 18-century New England village, wonderfully restored with period furnishings, textiles, artwork, and crafts. Historic Deerfield focuses on the culture and history of Deerfield, Massachusetts a town which was settled in 1669. The architecture and contents of the twelve original houses that line Main Street have been carefully preserved and may be viewed by guided or self-guided tours.

3. Frick Collection Both a museum and research center, the Frick Collection was initially assembled by industrialist Henry Clay Frick and is located in his former home on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Featuring works by Whistler, Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Gainsborough the museum is a small gem located along Manhattan’s Museum Mile. 

4. Smith College Museum of Art In our opinion one of the most impressive collections of a college of this size. The collection at the Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton, Massachusetts was put together to facilitate the study and appreciation of visual arts. Established in 1879 to support the college curriculum, the museum has focused on American and European art. In the ensuing years the collection has grown to include African, Islamic and Asian art. Featured artists include Wheeler, Bellows, Copley, Bierstadt, Degas, Monet, and Cézanne. 

5. Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute One of the premier museums of its size, the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute features works by Thomas Cole, O’Keeffe, Picasso, Prendergast, Whistler, Copley, and Tiffany. Located in Utica, New York the museum also features important decorative arts of the 19th century.

Katherine Dreier Psychological Portrait

Katherine Dreier’s “Psychological Portrait of Theodore Shawn” at the Munson Williams Proctor Museum of Art

6. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Another museum put together by a strong visionary – Mrs. Isabella Stewart Gardner. She was a patron of the arts and friend to many artists of her time. The museum is housed in her former home, which is a copy of a fifteenth century Venetian-style palace. It is filled with an extraordinary mix of textiles, paintings, furniture, and sculpture. 

7. Storm King Art Center We love this five hundred acre sculpture park located just north of New York City. Contemporary and modern sculpture is located all over the park allowing visitors to engage with the art in a natural setting. Featuring works by David Smith, Mark di Suvero, Alexander Calder, Maya Lin, and many others. Make sure to bring your walking shoes. You can read more about Storm King in this post.

8. Arkell Museum at Cahajoharie Just off the New York State thruway, the Arkell Museum is a wonderful oasis whose artworks are based around the personal collection of Bartlett Arkell, founder of the Beech-Nut Packing Company. Works by Winslow Homer, Childe Hassam, Paul Sample, Georgia O’Keeffe, Mary Cassatt and others make this museum well worth your visit. We talked about it in this post.

9. Hood Museum of Art Dartmouth College’s Hood Museum is a teaching museum located in Hanover, New Hampshire. This museum holds one of the largest and oldest collections of any academic institution in the U.S. The diverse collection includes works by Paul Sample, Frederick Remington, William Merritt Chase, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Sol LeWitt, and Abbott Thayer. Dartmouth College also houses José Clemente Orozco’s mural and preliminary drawings for The Epic of American Civilization.

10. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute With a collection strong in French Impressionists, American and European paintings, English silver, and early photography, The Clark Museum is located in the Berkshire mountains of western Massachusetts. The incipient collection of the museum was begun by Sterling and Francine Clark near the turn of the twentieth century. The Clarks established the museum in the mid 1950s near the campus of Williams College.

Click here to read part 2, Click here to read part 3 and click here to read part 4.

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