Location: Bowdoin / Library / Special Collections & Archives / archives / 5.2 Collection Guide

Museum of Art: Records, Files and Publications, 1847- .

9.5 linear feet.

Catalog Number: 5.2
Series List:


Agency History /
Biographical Note:

Between 1855 and 1894, the College's art collection was housed in a gallery in King Chapel. The original collection, a bequest of James Bowdoin III in 1811, consisted of two portfolios of 141 old master drawings and 70 paintings. The gallery in the Chapel was a gift from Theophilus Wheeler Walker, a cousin of President Leonard Woods. A separate museum was needed when there was not enough space to house the entire collection. The Walker Art Building, built in 1894, which houses the Museum of Art, was designed by Charles Follen McKim of McKim, Mead and White. A gift to the College by Harriet Sarah and Mary Sophia Walker, the building was built as a memorial to their late uncle, Theophilus Wheeler Walker.

Since James Bowdoin III's 1811 bequest, the museum collections have been added to by many benefactors, including other members of the Bowdoin family, as well as alumni and friends of the College. The permanent collection includes American colonial and federal portraits by Blackburn, Copley, Feke, Smibert, Stuart, Sully, and Trumball; Chinese and Korean ceramics; paintings and prints by John Sloan; Winslow Homer paintings and drawings; and objects of the ancient world. Besides exhibiting its permanent collections, the Museum schedules temporary exhibits of art lent by other museums and private collectors. The Walker Art Building was renovated in 1976 and 1993 to accommodate the growing collections. Between July 2005 and October 2007 the Museum of Art was closed while Walker Art Building underwent a major renovation.

Scope and Content:
Includes flyers, pamphlets, clippings, invitations, news releases from the Office of Communications and Museum Newsletters that publicize exhibits and collections. Also includes correspondence concerning the lending and donating of art objects to the museum, the publishing of catalogues, security of exhibits and insurance for borrowed art objects, and exhibit catalogs.

Cite as: Museum of Art: Records, Files, and Publications. George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives. Bowdoin College Library.

Access Restrictions: No restrictions.

George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives · Staff · Hours
Bowdoin College Library, 3000 College Station, Brunswick, Maine 04011-8421 · scaref@bowdoin.edu · (207) 725-3288