Creating a Collection: A Tour Through the Smith College Museum of Art

Building a new collection

In 1879, just four years after the opening of Smith College, the school began buying art to support the study of art and art history. Most of the artworks bought in these early years were bought directly from contemporary American artists. These early purchases included paintings by Winslow Homer, Louis C. Tiffany, George Inness, and Thomas Eakins.

In 1920, the museum finally developed its first official collecting policy, which focused on acquiring modern art. This marks a slight change away from American art, which was similar to other interests in the art world at the time.[1] 

[1] “History,” Smith College Museum of Art, accessed November 29, 2015,

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