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Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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Brunswick, ME, United States, Maine, USA 1894
Year Built/Circa: 1894
Current Use: Art Museum
Current Owner: Bowdoin College
Vacancy: Occupied
Historic Significance: The Bowdoin College Museum of Art houses a collection that is among the oldest and most significant of any college or university in the United States. Notable collections comprise ancient art, including five large ninth-century BCE Assyrian reliefs; Old Master prints and drawings; Renaissance paintings; American colonial and federal portraits by Stuart, Copley, Feke, and others; nineteenth- and twentieth-century American art, including works by Heade, Eakins, Cassatt, Gorky, Wyeth, Sloan, Kent, and Homer; and modern and contemporary prints, drawings, and photographs. The sisters Harriet Sarah and Mary Sophia Walker gave the museum building in honor of their uncle, Theophilus Wheeler Walker, and stipulated that the building be used exclusively for art. The Walker sisters were in some ways feminists; they grew up on a working farm, which may partially explain their independent manner and strength of mind. They completely funded and controlled the commission for the Walker Art Building and selected the architect.
Architect Builder Engineer: Charles Follen McKim of McKim, Mead and White

Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick, Maine

The historic Walker Art Building (1894), designed by Charles Follen McKim of McKim, Mead and White, houses the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. The museum recently underwent a $20.8 million renovation and expansion that included the construction of a dramatic glass and bronze entry pavilion.

McKim chose warm brick and limestone with a cooler granite to give life to the “balanced and symmetrical” design he intended to fulfill the Walker sisters’ insistence on a “ building which shall be entirely devoted to art” and, unlike many other museums of the time, “will also show the purpose for which it is to be used.”

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