A Guide to Colby College Museum of Art

Welcome art enthusiasts! Are you looking for a place to explore some incredible artworks? Then you’re in the right place. Colby College Museum of Art is a perfect destination to quench your thirst for art and culture. Situated in Waterville, Maine, Colby Museum is a renowned art museum that houses more than 10,000 artworks representing different time periods and countries. The museum offers a unique and diverse collection of American art, European art, contemporary art, and decorative arts. With such a vast collection, the museum is an excellent destination for any visitor, whether an art lover or not. In this guide, we’ll take you on an exciting tour of Colby College Museum of Art and all the little details you need to know to make your visit enjoyable and memorable.

Overview of Colby College Museum of Art

The Colby College Museum of Art is located in Waterville, Maine, on the campus of Colby College. It is one of the foremost college art museums in the country, with a mission to provide transformative experiences with art to its visitors. The museum’s extraordinary collections, exhibitions, and education programs are designed to inspire, challenge, and engage audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

Brief history and mission of the museum

The Colby College Museum of Art was founded in 1959 and has since become one of the most prominent college art museums in the country, with a diverse collection of over 10,000 works of art. The museum’s mission is to provide transformative experiences with art, designed to inspire, challenge, and engage audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

The museum’s founders believed firmly that art should play a significant role in the educational experience of Colby students and the broader community. Today, the museum continues to embody this mission by offering challenging programming and exhibitions designed to engage visitors in meaningful conversations about art and its impact on our lives.

The museum’s collection and special exhibitions

The collection of the Colby College Museum of Art represents a wide range of artistic styles, periods, and mediums, with a particular focus on American art. The museum’s collection includes works by some of the most celebrated artists in American history, such as John Singleton Copley, Winslow Homer, and Alex Katz.

In addition to its permanent collection, the museum also hosts a variety of special exhibitions throughout the year. These exhibitions feature works from the museum’s collection, as well as works on loan from other museums and private collections. Recent exhibitions have explored themes such as contemporary portraiture, LGBTQ+ representation in art, and the intersection of art and science.

Visitor info and accessibility

The Colby College Museum of Art is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, and Sunday from 12 pm to 5 pm. Admission is free, but donations are welcome. The museum is closed on Mondays, national holidays, and during the month of January.

The museum is fully accessible to visitors with disabilities, including wheelchair ramps, elevators, and accessible restrooms. The museum also offers audio guides, large print labels, and tactile materials for visitors with visual impairments.

Overall, the Colby College Museum of Art is a must-see destination for anyone interested in the transformative power of art. Whether you’re a lifelong art lover, a curious student, or simply looking for an enriching cultural experience, the museum is a welcoming and engaging space that offers something for everyone.

The Architecture and Design of the Museum

A Brief History of the Museum’s Buildings and Architecture

Colby College Museum of Art is an architectural masterpiece situated on the Colby College campus in Waterville, Maine. The museum is home to a vast collection of artworks that embrace a variety of time periods and art movements. The building that houses the museum is made up of two distinct parts that exhibit the various transformations made the institution has undergone since its establishment in 1959.

Initially, Colby College Museum of Art was housed in the Bixler Arts and Music Center. However, with the acquisition of various artworks and collections, the need for the expansion of the museum became extremely vital. In 1991, the addition of the Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion was built, which doubled the museum’s size to 20000 square feet. The modern and sleek structure, designed by the famous architect Frederick Fisher, was built in a way that reflected the Georgian architecture of the surrounding buildings.

In 2013, expansions were made to the museum when the Lunder Institute for American Art was established. A new wing, Lunder Wing, was built to accommodate the Lunder Collection, which had been donated to the museum in 2010. The Lunder Wing is a three-story structure designed by the Los Angeles-based firm Machado and Silvetti Associates. The structure has glass walls that allow natural light to flow in, creating an inviting and welcoming atmosphere for visitors.

Exhibitions and How They Are Displayed in the Museum

The Colby College Museum of Art has two floors that showcase the artwork. The first floor houses galleries for special exhibitions, and the second floor has galleries for the permanent collections. The museum’s exhibitions are displayed in various pedestal and wall configurations, making it possible to exhibit a wide variety of artworks. Galleries are adorned with intimate lighting that enhances the artwork and ensures that visitors have an immersive experience.

The museum is vibrant with a dynamic exhibit program that rotates every couple of months. The exhibitions include contemporary art, photography, African and Oceanic sculpture, prints, and drawings, among others. Art pieces are displayed in a way that connects the viewers with the artwork, providing a natural flow that allows visitors to explore the various art movements and periods.

Interior Design and Lighting

The interior design of the Colby College Museum of Art is simple yet elegant. The focus is to encourage interaction between visitors and the artwork displayed. The architects ensured that the color palette is neutral, ensuring that the artworks’ colors stand out. The open spaces allow for a comfortable viewing experience, which is considered crucial for wellbeing and concentration.

Lighting at the museum is crucial in ensuring the artwork is displayed appropriately. The architects designed the museum to allow for natural light to flow in, ensuring that the art is adequately lit during the day. The special exhibitions and the galleries hosting permanent collections have intimate lighting designed to heighten the visitor’s experience. The lights can be adjusted to create a particular ambiance that complements the artwork on display.


Colby College Museum of Art is a magnificent structure that houses exceptional works of art. The architecture of the museum, the way the artworks are displayed, and the interior design all work together to provide an immersive and satisfying visitor experience. The museum’s commitment to showcasing the artwork as accurately as possible while making it accessible to all is evident in its galleries’ design and displays. Colby College Museum of Art is a must-visit destination for art lovers and individuals who appreciate the beauty that art brings.

Colby College Museum of Art’s Collaborations and Education Initiatives

The Colby College Museum of Art is more than just a collection of beautiful and thought-provoking works of art. The museum is also a hub for collaborative projects and initiatives that engage the local community, national museums, and international art organizations. At the same time, the museum provides various educational programs that aim to inspire creativity and appreciation for art to people of all ages and backgrounds. Below are some of the museum’s notable collaborations and education initiatives.

Collaboration with local, national, and international institutions

One of the museum’s initiatives is to establish partnerships with different institutions to encourage dialogue, knowledge-sharing, and cultural exchange. Through these collaborations, the museum aims to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of art among diverse communities across the world.

Locally, the museum works with schools, community groups, and organizations to provide access to exhibitions, collections, and educational programs. For instance, the museum collaborates with the Waterville and Augusta schools to bring students to the museum for guided tours and workshops. Moreover, the museum partners with organizations like Waterville Creates and Common Street Arts to support local artists and promote community art events.

Nationally, the museum collaborates with prestigious institutions such as the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. These partnerships often result in joint exhibitions, research projects, and educational programs that benefit students, scholars, and art lovers across the country.

Internationally, the museum works with various art organizations and educational institutions to foster cross-cultural dialogue and promote global understanding of the arts. For instance, the museum collaborated with the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts in an exhibition titled “Redefining Printmaking: Innovations in the 21st Century” that showcased contemporary printmaking techniques from Jordan and the United States.

Art education initiatives and programs

The museum’s education initiatives aim to engage visitors of all ages and levels of experience with art. The museum offers several programs such as:

School tours – The museum provides guided tours for school groups that are tailored to the individual needs of each class. The tours are designed to be interactive and engaging, encouraging students to learn about art while developing critical thinking skills.

Workshops and classes – The museum offers workshops and classes for people of all ages and skill levels. These programs are led by experienced artists and educators and aim to provide hands-on experience with art techniques and media.

Internships – The museum provides internship opportunities for students interested in art, museum studies, or related fields. Students gain practical experience working alongside museum staff in areas such as curatorial, public relations, and education.

Through these programs, the museum hopes to inspire visitors to develop greater appreciation and understanding of art while providing them with the tools to create and express themselves artistically.

Special events and lectures

In addition to collaborative projects and educational programs, the museum hosts various special events and lectures throughout the year. These events provide an opportunity for the museum to engage with the community and promote discourse on contemporary issues in the art world.

The museum hosts lectures by prominent artists, scholars, and curators, who offer insights and perspectives on various topics related to art and culture. These lectures often include Q&A sessions, providing attendees with the chance to engage with the speaker and contribute to the conversation.

The museum also hosts symposiums that bring together scholars, artists, and students to discuss current issues in the art world. These symposiums often focus on a particular theme or topic and provide a forum for exchanging ideas and perspectives.

Finally, the museum hosts receptions that celebrate new exhibitions, welcome visiting artists, and thank museum supporters. These events offer an opportunity for the museum to thank its patrons and engage with the community in a festive and convivial atmosphere.

Overall, the Colby College Museum of Art is committed to fostering collaboration, education, and engagement with the community. Through partnerships and initiatives, the museum strives to be an integral part of the cultural fabric of Waterville, Maine, and the wider world.

The Impact of the Museum on Art and Culture

The Role of Colby College Museum of Art in Advancing Art and Culture

The Colby College Museum of Art has played a significant role in advancing both art and culture. One of the main ways the museum has done this is by providing a platform for emerging artists. The museum hosts many exhibitions featuring works of contemporary artists, giving them exposure to a wider audience. This platform has helped launch the careers of many artists who have gone on to become renowned in the art world.

The museum also encourages critical thinking through its exhibitions and education initiatives. Each exhibition is accompanied by educational programs, including lectures, talks, and workshops, where visitors can engage in conversations and explore different perspectives. This not only enhances visitors’ understanding of the works on display but also fosters critical thinking and creativity.

Community Outreach and Engagement

The Colby College Museum of Art is deeply committed to community outreach and engagement. The museum is contributing significantly to the Maine and Waterville community by offering various educational programs and events. The museum offers free admission to all, making it a welcoming place for everyone interested in art and culture to come and explore.

The museum’s “Art @ Your Library” program is one of several community outreach initiatives, which brings art to the people, taking the museum outside of its walls and into the community. Another important program is the “Museum in the Streets” initiative, where the museum provides life-size reproductions of selected artworks from its collection, placed around the city, with audio tours and self-guided walking tours available. These programs have been warmly welcomed by the community.

Achievements and Future Plans

The Colby College Museum of Art has achieved many notable milestones since its founding in 1959. It has amassed over 10,000 works of art, including many significant works of American art. The museum has also been awarded several prestigious grants and recognition, such as the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

In the coming years, the museum has ambitious plans to expand its collection, education programs and outreach initiatives further. The expansion of the Colby campus provides an opportunity for the museum to increase its exhibition space and optimize visitors’ experience. There are plans to expand the education programs to include more outreach programs to schools and off-campus populations. The museum also intends to promote the use of digital tools for remote education and interaction with the collections.

In summary, the Colby College Museum of Art is not just an impressive facility with an extraordinary collection. It is an institution on a mission to inspire people through art, promote critical engagement and foster creative expression. Through strategic outreach and education, the museum is also serving the community and leaving a lasting impact on art and culture. The museum’s achievements and future plans demonstrate the institution’s unwavering commitment to its role as a leader in the art and cultural world.

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