Smith College Museum of Art

Jun 25 2009

Smith College Museum of Art AtriumWith a world famous collection and a tradition of making its holdings accessible to the public, the Smith College Museum of Art has long been an asset to the city of Northampton. The permanent collection includes more than 24,000 paintings, sculptures, photographs, prints and decorative arts dating from the 25th century BC to the present. After a large-scale expansion and renovation to the museum and the adjoining art department building and Hillyer Art Library was completed in 2003, The New York Times had this to say:

“With the conclusion of a 3-year renovation and expansion, this facility stepped up to claim equal footing with New England’s finest college art museums, including those at Williams, Harvard, and Yale. It already had an impressive permanent collection of paintings by Degas, Monet, Picasso, and Winslow Homer, among many 19th- and 20th-century Europeans and Americans. Now, there is not only more space to show them, but also ample room for an ambitious program of temporary exhibitions. The new third-floor galleries have fine views of town and campus and allow abundant light for canvases by a substantial number of French Impressionists and post-Impressionists, including Gauguin, C├ęzanne, Renoir, and Monet. Americans Sargent, Whistler, and Georgia O’Keeffe are also represented. On the second floor, British historical and portrait painters Benjamin West and Joshua Reynolds share space with Greek and Roman glassware, ceramics, and statuary, while the ground floor is given to traveling exhibits. There is an atrium cafe serving drinks and snacks. Parking is a challenge, but worth the effort.”

One of the goals of the renovation was to improve handicap accessibility to the museum. Although the closest handicap parking is at College Hall or the Smith parking garage, there is a drop off area in front of the museum.

The renovation also addressed the cold, damp, drafty atrium connecting the museum to the Hillyer Art Library. Extensive repairs to the glass roof and the addition of glass and doors to block the breeze that used to sweep through the space has made it much more inviting. It now houses a cafe and seating area and provides a permanent display area for the 43 foot long mural by Rufino Tamayo, “Nature and the Artist: The Work of Art and the Observer.”
Smith College Museum of Art BathroomWhile there, make sure you visit the bathrooms. Designed by Ellen Driscoll and Sandy Skoglund, the walls, floors and fixtures are all works of art in themselves. They took 5th place in the America’s Best Bathrrooms 2008.

For more information, visit the museum website (which is sadly lacking in photos!).

Gallary Hours:
Tuesday to Saturday: 10 to 4
Sunday: 12 to 4
Second Fridays: 10 to 8 (4 to 8, FREE to all)
Closed Mondays and major holidays

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