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The Colby College Museum of Art is a collecting and teaching museum dedicated to the preservation, display, and interpretation of the visual arts. We embrace within our collections works of art from diverse cultures and historical periods, with a focus on American Art, and a commitment to collecting and exhibiting contemporary art. We manage these resources for tehe benefit of the Colby College community, the region, and the nation, and aspire to display works that embody the highest standards of artistic achievement.
Founded in 1959 and now comprising four wings, more than 5,500 works, and more than 24,000 square feet of exhibition space, the Colby College Museum of Art has built a significant permanent collection that specializes in American and contemporary art.
Central to its mission is the museum's role as a teaching resource for academic departments and interdisciplinary programs at the College, as well as for the region and the nation. In addition to long-term installations of its permanent collections, the museum typically displays five or more temporary exhibitions over the course of a year. These include currents, an annual series of exhibitions that feature the work of emerging, cutting-edge artists. The museum's diverse artistic programming also includes lectures, gallery talks, and tours for both school children and adults. Admission to these events and to the museum is free and open to the public.
The museum welcomes volunteers and offers opportunities for Colby students to gain practical experience working as interns with curators, educators, and administrators. In particular, the Friends of Art and the Museum Docent program bring Colby students, faculty, and alumni together with other members of the Central Maine community to support the activities of the Museum.
The Museum's permanent collection includes major American works by John Singleton Copley, Gilbert Stuart, Winslow Homer, Albert Bierstadt, Mary Cassatt, and William Meritt Chase; the modern movement is represented by important works by John Marin, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O'Keeffe, George Bellows, and Rockwell Kent. The museum also features an important contemporary collection including works by Chuck Close, Agnes Martin, Sol LeWitt, Dan Flavin, Kara Walker, Elizabeth Murray, and Alex Katz. The collection includes 18th-century American portraits, the American Heritage Collection of Folk Art, primitive portraits and weathervanes, as well as work by the American Impressionist painters.
Though the majority of the museum's works are American, excellent examples of European prints, drawings, and paintings as well as special collections like the Bernat Collection of Oriental Ceramics are integral parts of the collection. Supplementing the permanent collection are a superb set of prints by James McNeill Whistler and a world-class collection of ancient Chinese ceramics, The Colville Collection of Early Chinese Art, on long-term loan to the museum. One semester every two years, the Joan Whitney Payson Collection of Impressionist and Post-impressionist paintings is on view.
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