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Springfield, Missouri's Oldest Cultural Institution, Founded in 1928

French Fries Sculpture by John Henry

The Springfield Art Museum is the City of Springfield, Missouri’s oldest cultural institution. It began as the Art Study Club, founded by a small group of women in 1926 and led by Deborah D. Weisel. The group was successfully incorporated on June 26, 1928 as the Springfield Art Museum. Immediately, the Museum began mounting traveling exhibitions from New York, Philadephia, and St. Louis. A small public collection was also formed that year beginning with Mary Butler’s painting The King, Isterdalen, Norway and Tom Barnett’s A June Day.

Subsequently, the Museum’s collection has grown steadily over the years and now numbers over 10,000 objects. Collecting priorities have altered slightly with each Museum Director but several constants have remained throughout including a focus on: American artists, local and regional artist, printmaking, water media, and cultural diversity.

In 2018, the Museum’s 90th Anniversary year, we unveiled a new 30-year Master Plan that includes a new Family Learning Center, new educational spaces, expansion and improvement to public and community spaces, improved circulation throughout the building, parking improvements, and a renewed purpose for the Museum’s grounds and greenspace. The Museum’s grounds are currently undergoing a dramatic transformation including much needed storm water improvements through the naturalization of Fassnight Creek. Naturalization alleviates flood risk while improving connections between the Museum and its surrounding environs including Phelps Grove Park, Perry Tennis Courts, Water Wise Garden, and the Fassnight Creek Greenway Trail.

Museum Director Nick Nelson notes “90 years ago, our founders established the Springfield Art Museum with about 20 works of art in a borrowed space. Their vision and courage inspire us today as we consider the long-term future of this wonderful institution and present a plan for the next 30 years that is no less visionary.”


Learn more about the Museum by visiting www. Admission is always free!

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