The McMaster Museum of Art officially opened to the public on June 11, 1994 and houses McMaster University’s permanent collection of more than 6,000 works representing the history of art in a diversity of media from ancient times to the present.
It is recognized internationally for its specialist collection of early twentieth-century German prints and outstanding European paintings, drawings and prints, including a donation by Hamilton businessman Dr. Herman Herzog Levy O.B.E. of his own private collection. There are also significant holdings of Cape Dorset prints, sculptures and artifacts as well as a finely focussed collection of historical and contemporary Canadian art.
During the 1960s and 1970s several faculty members contributed to the formulation of a coherent permanent collection. As a result of their efforts, European prints and Canadian art were regularly added to the collection and their teaching philosophy, which valued the direct experience of original works of art,was embraced by the University. In 1967 the first dedicated space for a gallery opened and was administered by the Department of Art and Art History.
In 1985 the special function of an art collection within the overall goals of the University was acknowledged at which time the McMaster University Art Gallery became an independent unit within the Faculty of Humanities. Late in 1988 the building of an appropriate facility became a priority within the University’s master plan and planning and program development was initiated. Subsequent to this, the Gallery became an autonomous unit within the University governed by the Administrative Board made up of University and community representatives.
Central to the transformation of the McMaster University Art Gallery to the McMaster Museum of Art has been a concerted effort focussed on collections development and education. It was decided that the University’s art collection should stress quality and the formal, stylistic and historical relationships among specific works and that the collection would be built selectively and with purpose. Acquisitions policies emphasize the relationship between the teaching of art, art history and other subject areas (especially within the Humanities) as well as broader concerns such as learning, research and public enjoyment. Within this context, three areas have been singled out for development — Canadian art, early 20th century German Expressionist art and modern and contemporary European art — and is directed by the Museum’s Acquisitions Committee.
In 1999, the Museum’s fifth anniversary, the University’s Board of Governors decided to name the Museum building in honour of President Emeritus Alvin A. Lee, one of the most influential supporters and champions of the University art collection. Dr. Lee’s commitment to the broad educational benefit that the experience of art can contribute to learning at a University directly contributed to the receipt of substantial gifts and the development and realization of the new Museum facility.
The McMaster Museum of Art (MMA) engages, educates and enlightens through its innovative exhibitions and public programs while preserving the integrity of its collection. The MMA is a unique meeting place for both the campus and the wider community that aims to provoke people’s understanding of the visual arts with its online and physical presence.
The McMaster Museum of Art will inspire curiosity, expand knowledge, ignite creativity, and enrich people’s lives, through an experience with visual arts.
Meeting/Class Rooms are available at the McMaster Museum of Art and are free for University groups. They are available only during open Museum hours. More Information