Williams College Museum of Art Collection

Joseph Cornell; Sun box; Art © The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY; Williams College Museum of Art

Artstor and Williams College Museum of Art are collaborating to release an additional 2,700 recently digitized images in the Digital Library. The new images come from the Museum's African, Eastern, and Ancient collections, as well as its collection of the works of the artist brothers Maurice and Charles Prendergast.

The Williams College Museum of Art contains approximately 12,000 works, representing a broad range of time periods and cultures. Along with holdings in Ancient and European art, the permanent collection emphasizes American Art, Modern and Contemporary art, and the art of Asia and other world cultures. 

The Williams College Museum of Art is housed in a 19th century building designed by Thomas S. Tefft, which originally served as Williams College's first library. The museum itself was established in 1926 to provide Williams College students with the opportunity to observe works of art first-hand. Karl Weston, the museum's founder and first director, taught Art History at Williams College of 22 years. In 1948, Weston was succeeded in both roles by his former student, S. Lane Faison, Jr., who oversaw the expansion of the Art department's faculty and curriculum. To this day, the Art department continues to occupy the lower floor of the museum building, Lawrence Hall. As the collections grew throughout the 1970s, the museum focused its collecting efforts on American, Modern, Contemporary, and non-Western art, so as to complement the European holdings of the nearby Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. In time, the growing need for exhibition, storage, and office space led to a major expansion project in 1981, under the direction of the architect Charles Moore. Around the same time, the museum began hiring scholars to compile a catalogue raisonné of the works of the American artist-brothers Maurice and Charles Prendergast. The catalog raisonné was published in 1990, the same year that the museum founded the Prendergast Archive and Study Center to house letters, photographs, books, and other research materials relating to the Prendergasts and their era. Through the generosity of Charles Prendergast's widow, Eugénie Van Kemmel Prendergast, the museum has amassed the largest museum collection of watercolors, oils, and sketchbooks created by Maurice and Charles Prendergast.