Since the 19th century, colleges have collected art to display in their own galleries for the enrichment of their students. There are nearly 680 of these galleries in existence today in the US, and many rival the nation’s best public museums. Almost all college art galleries are open to the public and a great many offer free admission. See which art galleries we thought merited a special mention.
1. Rhode Island School of Design Museum
An expansive holding of ancient and contemporary art, RISD Museum features 7 collections in 5 separate buildings. Collections include Asian art, sculptures, and textiles, as well as paintings. This museum truly has something for everyone.
See details: RISD
2. Yale University Art Gallery
Yale’s art gallery is the oldest art museum on a college campus in the Western Hemisphere. Since its inception in 1832, the gallery has grown to house an impressive collection of early Italian paintings and African art, as well as art from all over the world.
See details: Yale
3. Smith College Museum of Art
Smith’s art museum features extensive permanent collections in European paintings and sculptures. The museum also features over 5,700 photographs dating as far back as the early 19th century, and a section for changing exhibitions (like the one below by Emily Eveleth).
See details: Smith College
4. Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College
AMAM houses a diverse collection of over 14,000 works from all over the world. Its collections of American and European paintings dating back to the 1400s is particularly strong. Once a semester, students are allowed to rent certain paintings by well-known artists to display on their dorm walls.
See details: Oberlin College
5. Hammer Museum, UCLA
UCLA’s Hammer Museum features changing exhibitions of modern art intended not only to awe and inspire, but also to bring cultural and political issues to light. In addition to its physical collections, Hammer offers free programs meant to educate the public on art.
6. Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University
Among its 35,000 works, The Johnson Museum’s most notable holding is its extensive Asian art collection. Works also include paintings by renowned European artists and American artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe and Andy Warhol.
See details: Cornell
7. Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
BAMPFA states its mission is to “inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through art and film.” This goal is achieved through carefully curated contemporary exhibitions made up of both historical and contemporary international pieces. The original BAMPFA building was closed in December 2014 and a new building will reopen in early 2016.
See details: UC Berkeley
8. Colby College Museum of Art
Colby’s art museum houses 8,000 pieces, largely populated by contemporary American paintings. The museum places heavy emphasis on teaching patrons and students to appreciate art. Prominent American artist Alex Katz has donated over 700 pieces of art to Colby.
See details: Colby College