Smith College Museum of Art
art museum in Northampton, Massachusetts



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Arty Fact

Smith College Museum of Art
art museum in Northampton, Massachusetts
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20 Elm St
Northampton, Massachusetts
United States

Works at Smith College Museum of Art

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Ever gone to a museum to check out the toilets?

Probably not - at least, not until you visit the Smith College Museum of Art for the first time. That’s right: even the bathrooms of this museum are art! With one designed by Smith alumna Sandy Skoglund (Smith College class of 1963), and the other by Ellen Driscoll, the bathrooms are worthy of a visit of their own.

Besides taking a radical perspective on what it means to surround oneself with art to *really* feel it, SCMA has other claims to fame, too. Though it is not the oldest college art museum in the USA (Yale snagged that title by a mere 40 years), art collecting has always been in the school’s mission. Smith began collecting art in 1879 - just 4 years after the college opened. By 1920 the museum had a director and a formal collection plan - something which has been revised over the last 100 years to reflect the diversity and progressiveness of Smith itself. What do I mean by this? Smith is, for those who don’t know, a women’s college - one of the original Seven Sisters schools (and yes, it is as witchy as it sounds).

Today the college contains more than 27,000 artworks spanning 4500 years. For reference, that’s the same size as the collection at the Whitney (actually, SCMA’s is a little bigger - not that size matters…). Between the range and depth of the collection, the emphasis on student engagement (yours truly was a staff member throughout my time as a Smith student), and plethora of community events, the museum is often regarded as one of the top college art museums in the US.

In 2003, the museum underwent a $35 million redesign. Another modification was made between 2013 and 2016 (creating another Whitney parallel, as that was also the time of their new building). Over the century of its existence, projects such as this, as well as the constant expansion of the collection, can be credited to generous alumnae gifts. In addition to being a great campus resource, the museum has gained acclaim across the field. In 2020 it will host art from the collection of the Studio Museum, while that building is under renovation.

All of that is to say, while you may go for the toilets, I recommend that you stay for the art - it’s worth your time.




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Here is what Wikipedia says about Smith College Museum of Art

The Smith College Museum of Art (abbreviated SCMA), connected with the well-known Smith College, is a prominent art museum in Northampton, Massachusetts. It is considered to be one of the most impressive college museums in the country. The museum is best known for its remarkable compilation of American and European art of the 19th and 20th centuries, including superb works by Edgar Degas, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet, Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, Georges Seurat, Albert Bierstadt, John Singer Sargent and others. First established in 1879, the collection has expanded to include nearly 25,000 works of art, including a diverse collection of non-Western art. It is also a member of the Museums10 collective, a consortium of art, science, and history museums in Western Massachusetts. The SCMA serves as an important cultural and educational resource for the communities of Smith College, the Five College Consortium, and the town of Northampton.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Smith College Museum of Art.