Topic: Things to Do

College Art Museums: Top 5 in New England

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We asked critic Edgar Allen Beem, author of Yankee’s art blog, “Just Looking,” to name the five best college art museums in New England. After “weeks of soul searching” (and omitting the obvious giants, such as Harvard and Yale), he made his choices.

Bowdoin College Museum of Art
Brunswick, ME
This McKim, Mead & White jewel box houses a treasure trove of some 14,000 art objects, ranging from Winslow Homer’s watercolor box to fabulous Assyrian bas-reliefs.

Colby College Museum of Art
Waterville, ME
In terms of sheer space, this is one of the most impressive college museums in America. While it has only 6,000 objects, its 13 light and airy galleries seem to just go on forever.

Rhode Island School of Design Museum
Providence, RI
It’s the 20th largest art museum in the country and one of New England’s best-kept secrets.

Smith College Museum of Art

Northampton, MA
The real strengths of the Smith collection are its 1,600 drawings, 5,700 photographs, and 8,000 prints.

Williams College Museum of Art
Williamstown, MA
You’ll find a collection of some 12,000 objects, close to half of which are works by American artists.

  • All great choices, Mr. Beem…but don’t forget the lovely Cantor Art Gallery at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester. Its a really engaging space with exciting exhibits rotating in all the time. And if you visit campus for that, you’re just a stone’s throw away from the Worcester Art Museum and the American Antiquarian Society…two more hidden gems in central Massachusetts. (No, I don’t work for the tourism board…just excited about sharing some of the things I’ve discovered in my new hometown!)


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