The Springfield Art Museum began as an art club, organized by a handful of women, in 1926. The group was led by Deborah D. Weisel, and was able to incorporate and become The Springfield Art Museum on June 26, 1928. This museum is the oldest cultural institution in Missouri and has a mission of continuing art appreciation, preservation, and education, that all began with a group of woman who loved to study art.

The Museum began hosting traveling exhibits immediately upon opening with works coming from New York, Philadelphia, and St. Louis. After 18 years of being ran by the Art club, the museum was deeded to the city of Springfield, Missouri. The city was dedicated to the growth and development of the museum and can now be found at its permanent location in Phelps Grove Park.

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1.Permanent Collection

Permanent Collection
© Springfield Art Museum

The Springfield Art Museum is home to over 10,000 pieces of art work that make up the permanent collection. When the museum was first founded, as an art club, there were only two paintings purchased. Both of the paintings were landscapes by Mary Butler, and thus, the museum began a focus on Contemporary American Art from the 18th century onward. Due to the diversity of the patrons and , the expansion of the museum lead to the acquisition of works from across all time periods and cultures; although there is still a heavy influence of the original focus of the museum.

The collection also contains many different types of media, from American water media, art of the Midwest and print making, to textiles, decorative arts, and pottery and ceramics from across the globe. There are even large scale sculptures to enjoy in the sculpture garden.

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2.Past & Present Exhibitions

Past & Present Exhibitions
© Springfield Art Museum

There are currently four exhibitions at The Springfield Art Museum.

String Theory, is a showcase of 30 textiles from the permanent collection to examine how the same construction method can be used to create different things. This exhibition shows how the use of fibers can be manipulated to create clothing, prints, and painting, and also show the different tools that make these creations possible. There are five categories, knitting, weaving, embroidery, sewing, and quilting, that highlight the versatility in the textile arts.

Creating An American Identity is a themed exhibit that focuses on American heritage through landscape. The exhibition pushes forth the idea that America was a place of plentiful land and the merging of multiple cultures. This exhibit is also a cross section of the permanent collection, which hearkens back to the original intent of the museum, to collect contemporary American art works. Works by artists such as Grandma Moses, Jackson Pollok, and Robert Motherwell are prominent features in this exhibition.

House of Art(s) is an installation piece brought about by the Art of Space and the curatorial staff at The Springfield Art Museum. This piece is an outdoor gallery featuring murals and graffiti wall panels. The piece is ever changing as it is open to the public and artists from all over the country are welcome to come and add their own piece to the art by painting part of a panel themselves. As the piece changes, the staff at the museum will document the process, and this documentation will become a part of the permanent collection of the museum.

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3.Past & Present Exhibitions

Past & Present Exhibitions
© Springfield Art Museum

Warhol Uncanned is a dedication piece to the seven Campbell Soup Label Prints by Andy Warhol that were stolen from the museum and have not yet been recovered. The Front lobby has artwork by Lindsey Wohlman titles Warhol Naked & Unlabeled which features a can of soup without its label. This exhibit also serves as a reminder that behind the label, notoriety, and hype, art can heal and connect with people. A food drive was also inspired by this exhibit of an unlabeled soup can, and the museum accepts donations of canned foods that it distributes across many food pantries in the local area. Visitors also feel as though this presentation starts a contemporary discussion on the labeling of GMOs and Country of origin on food labels.

Significant Objects: Contemporary Still life is a culmination of several watercolor still life paintings that have been acquired, but never been displayed at the museum, until now. The works range in style from representation to photo realism. An interesting part of this display is the still life sketching area where visitors are welcome to bring their own supplies or use the provided supplies, and sketch, inspired by the paintings around them.

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4.Plan Your Trip

Plan Your Trip
© Springfield Art Museum

The Springfield Art Museum prides itself on its community partnerships and offers its auditorium and amphitheater space for events that are free to the public. The spaces have been used for lectures on art, theatrical performance, artist receptions, concerts, and more.

Several fundraisers are open to the public, or with paid admission, throughout the year from galas and dinners to auctions. One of the signature events is Ninety- Nine Times, an event that mixes fun, food, and fashion for an unforgettable evening.

Because The Springfield Art Museum is so dedicated to serving the community, every Wednesday, an event called "1 Million Cups" is hosted here. Business owners and entrepreneurs are welcome to gather at the event, drink coffee, and discuss different ways to better the community and help small business grow.

The SIVA Currents Artist Talk is brought to the museum by The Summer Institute for Visual Arts at Drury University. This summer lecture series features talks lead by the current visiting artists that are a part of a diverse group of international artists.

Shakespeare at the Columns is a theatrical event that is held in the Amphitheatre on several weekends every summer. The 2016 performance will be of "Julius Cesar". This play will be produced and cast by Actors Theatre of Missouri in association with Dangerous Playground and Rice Theatricals. Refreshments from Hurts Donuts and London Calling are available during this event.

Art classes for adults, children, and family are available in a wide variety of mediums. Drawing, acrylics, and ceramics are offered to adults; while pottery and art explorations are available to children. The art exploration class introduce children ages five through ten to many different mediums. The family art classes allow adults with their child to walk through the galleries to get inspired and then back to the classroom to create something together. For the especially tiny tots, ages three to four, a paint and play class is offered every Thursday that encourages parent participation as well.

Summer Art Camp is also available for ages five through ten. This Camp is divided into four sessions. The first session focuses on art that defies categorization, session two combines art with science, the third is using nature and the environment in art, and the final session focuses on art and art traditions from around the world. There is a special camp for ages 10-14 as well that focuses on the Literary art form. Kids will get to write, illustrate, and then bind their very own story in the morning. Later in the afternoon, turn that story into a movie by writing, narrating, and shooting your very own animation.

The Springfield Art Museum is unique in that they encourage you to use photography and take pictures of any art you are inspired by. There are several seating areas throughout the museum with art supplies so that you have everything at your fingertips to create art when the inspiration strikes. Staff also encourages a family atmosphere and offers free wireless internet as well! There are a few rules that they do ask all patrons to keep in mind, however.

Please do not, touch the artwork, chew gum, bring in food or drinks, use flash photography, run through the halls, make loud noises in contemplation areas, or bring in large bags or backpacks to the museum.

Back to: 16 Best Things to Do in Springfield, Missouri

1111 East Brookside Drive, Springfield, Missouri 65807, Phone: 417-837-5700

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Springfield Art Museum in Springfield, Missouri