Creating a Collection: A Tour Through the Smith College Museum of ArtMain MenuHow do museums build and unbuild collections?How This WorksInstructions on How to Use this WebsiteHow to Read a Museum LabelThis will help you navigate the SCMA and other museumsWhat is "Public Trust"?Why Museums CollectHow Museums CollectWhy Museums Remove Objects from their CollectionsHow Museums Remove Objects from their CollectionsSamantha Page4d4aad3cbb232d6b14d08c9a79a502129237df5c
Thomas Eakins's "In Grandmother's Time"
12017-04-13T16:04:08-07:00Samantha Page4d4aad3cbb232d6b14d08c9a79a502129237df5c1562331876, oil on canvas, 16 x 12 in, SC 1879:1, Purchasedplain2017-04-15T11:53:22-07:00Samantha Page4d4aad3cbb232d6b14d08c9a79a502129237df5c
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12017-03-08T08:39:35-08:00Samantha Page4d4aad3cbb232d6b14d08c9a79a502129237df5cHow do museums build and unbuild collections?Samantha Page38structured_gallery2017-05-05T11:33:04-07:00Samantha Page4d4aad3cbb232d6b14d08c9a79a502129237df5c
12017-03-20T19:27:21-07:00Samantha Page4d4aad3cbb232d6b14d08c9a79a502129237df5cBuilding a new collectionSamantha Page10structured_gallery2017-05-05T13:07:36-07:00Samantha Page4d4aad3cbb232d6b14d08c9a79a502129237df5c
12017-03-28T10:52:43-07:00Samantha Page4d4aad3cbb232d6b14d08c9a79a502129237df5cOn View - Third LevelSamantha Page9Works of art currently on view on the SCMA's Third Levelstructured_gallery2017-05-05T11:59:49-07:00Samantha Page4d4aad3cbb232d6b14d08c9a79a502129237df5c
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12017-03-20T19:27:21-07:00Building a new collection10structured_gallery2017-05-05T13:07:36-07:00In 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.
12017-03-28T08:13:53-07:00How to Read a Museum Label8This will help you navigate the SCMA and other museumsplain2017-05-05T11:47:10-07:00Reading labels in an art museum helps visitors navigate the galleries. Labels usually share what is known as "tombstone information." This is the basic information about an artwork that helps new museum-goers and art experts alike understand what they are looking at.
An important piece of information often included on labels is the acquisition information, or how the artwork got to the museum's collection. This may include an accession number (such as SC 1879:1) and the credit line, which will share a bit about how the museum got the artwork—for example, if the museum bought the artwork or received it as a donation, exchange, or transfer.
Let's look at accession number for Thomas Eakins's In Grandmother's Time, for an example. The "SC" means it belongs to Smith College. The "1879" means it was bought in the year 1879. And the "1" means it was the first painting bought that year.
American (1844 - 1916)
In Grandmother's Time
oil on canvas
stretcher: 16 x 12 in.; 40.64 x 30.48 cm
signed and dated on spinning wheel: Eakins 76
Not all credit lines look alike, but hopefully this helps you start to decode one the next time you see a museum label.