Enter your search terms:

butler 100 logo

1919 – 2019

The Butler Institute of American Art

The 100th anniversary is truly special. It is a celebration of past accomplishments and represents a marker which inspires. But it is not only a looking back. It is not just a procession of memories. Rather, it can be seen as another first step, a looking ahead at what might be just over the horizon. This celebration of 100 years reveals the soundness of an institution which has lived through challenging times, and which has garnered strength from those challenges.

-Louis Zona, Director and Chief Curator

Centennial Programming and Events

The Butler Gala

The centennial year will be celebrated in the anniversary month with a formal Gala by invitation. This glamorous evening will be the event of the year with entertainment, a sit-down dinner, and favors. This grand night will go down in history as the celebration of the century. Be sure to partake in this once-in-a-lifetime event and join us in one of the final celebrations for this monumental milestone at The Butler. Formal invitations will be sent out later this year.

The Gala is sponsored in part by PNC and Manchester, Newman, & Bennett, LPA.

Members will receive an invitation in the mail. Interested in attending the event but not a member? Contact Susie Carfano at 330-743-1107 ext. 1301. Not a member but would like to be? Visit our membership page to find out how to join.

All of us at The Butler wish to express our deepest sympathies to the family of famed musician Ric Ocasek who passed away recently. As you may know we had planned to honor Ocasek as part of The Butler’s Gala celebration. Ric had looked forward to his planned visit to The Butler and we very much looked forward to meeting him and viewing his art. 

Our Gala committee continues to plan a wonderful program and we look forward to a truly special evening. 

P N C logo
manchester newmand and bennett logo

On America: A Lecture Series by Prominent Art Scholars

Refreshments served at 6:30pm. Lectures begin at 7pm – Zona Auditorium


This special Butler Summer Lecture Series is part of The Butler’s 100th Anniversary programming, presented by prominent art scholars and art professionals from around the country as guest speakers. The series’ lectures will be held during extended Wednesday Summer evening hours in Zona Auditorium on the first floor of The Butler’s Beecher Center. ASL interpreting services will be provided.

“On America” is in conjunction with: “Youngstown Live Presents Evening Hours at The Butler”

Sponsored in part by The Fibus Family Foundation and Vallourec, Inc.


Guest Lecturers:


July 10

Barbara Haskell

Curator, Whitney Museum of American Arts

How the Mexican Muralists Reshaped American Art, 1925-1949


July 17 

William Underwood Eiland

Director, Georgia Museum of Art

Reading American Pictures: Meaning in Paintings from the Georgia Museum


July 31

Sarah Kelly-Oehler

Field-McCormick Chair and Curator of American Art, Art Institute of Chicago

“We Too Look at America”: Charles White and Chicago’s African American Artists


August 7

Timothy Standring

Gates Family Foundation Curator, Denver Art Museum

American Responses to French Art During the Second Half of the 19th Century


September 18

Eric Widing

Deputy Chairman, Christie’s Americas

The Collection of David and Peggy Rockefeller: Behind the Scenes at the World’s Most Valuable Auction Sale


For a detailed description about the speakers and insight on their lectures, click here.

Special thanks to the following for their generous 100th Anniversary gift:

Janette and Fred Staloff, PNC, City Machine Technologies, Anago of Eastern Ohio, Joan Selden in memory of Carol Hanson, Warren P. Williamson Jr. Fund, The Pollock Personal Foundation, Frances Schermer Charitable Trust, Manchester Newman & Bennett, Zita M & Joseph DiYorio Charitable Foundation, Vicki Delliquadri, David L. Crook, Kenwood Construction, Wesco International Charitable Foundation, Carol Bigelow.

the bulter logo white

Admission is free and art is for everyone

Long gone is the notion that art museums simply celebrate the past. Today the museum is a vital center of cultural enrichment where art and history are not only explored but where ideas of every dimension are shown to reveal the potential of humankind. The Butler Institute of American Art with its devotion to new media and technologies is such an institution. It salutes the past and fervently believes in the future.


The Art

The Butler is unique among museums. It exists to collect and preserve works of art in all media that has been created by citizens of this country. From the crowning pieces of its permanent collection to the temporary exhibits, a walk through the Butler is a walk through American history. And what is most surprising about The Butler, is how the art jumps off the wall in this intimate setting. Here is a sample of what The Butler has to offer.

Free to the People

– J.G. Butler, Founder

Of The People

The only revenue The Butler receives to keep its doors open and showcase such a visually-rich collection is from generous donors of the arts like you. Please visit our donate page to learn more.

For The People

It is because of these contributions from the community (along with Federal art grants) that the Butler can charge no admission fee for entry to the museum. Go to our Tour page to find our location and learn our hours.

By The People

By giving to the Butler, you take part in crafting this American institution and maintaining the integrity of our mission; making you A Part of The Art. Visit the Art page to learn about the Butler Collection and what’s new in exhibitions.


1st Museum Dedicated to American Art

How It All Started

In the early 1900s, Joseph G. Butler, Jr. had a vision for an institution devoted to curating and preserving the art his young America would produce: the first American Art Museum. From this vision, The Butler Institute was born. To showcase the art, he knew would eventually become some of the greatest in the world, Joseph Butler commissioned McKim, Mead & White to create an architectural masterpiece. MM&W were known for creating other great structures such as the Savoy Hotel and Madison Square Gardens in New York, NY. Thus, the original Butler structure, was officially dedicated in 1919. This inspirational building—crafted in the Italianate style iconic in many of the buildings throughout Washington DC—has been listed on the National Register of Historic places.

The Vision Continues

Today, as it was in the beginning, the Butler’s mission is to collect and preserve works of art in all media that has been created by citizens of our country. The Institute’s holdings now exceed 22,000 individual works, from thousands of American artists, starting from its earliest work Portrait of Katherine Ten Broeck by Nehemiah Partridge dated 1719.

Our Timeline


The Beginning

Joseph G. Butler, Jr. founded The Butler Institute of American Art in 1919. The Butler was incorporated and chartered by the State of Ohio. It is the first structure built to house a collection of strictly American works. Margaret Evans appointed the first Director.


Henry Audubon Butler

Henry Audubon Butler- became President of the Board of Trustees upon death of Joseph G. Butler Jr, the museums founder.



Original McKim, Mead and White building was expanded with the addition of two lower level wings


Joseph G. Butler

Joseph G. Butler III became Director


National Register of Historic Places

The building designed by McKim, Mead and White is placed on the National Register of Historic Places.


2nd Expansion

The Institute is expanded with the addition of second floors to the 1931 wing additions.


Lou Zona

Louis A. Zona is appointed the Director of The Butler Institute of American Art.


3rd Expansion

A West Wing addition doubling the square footage of the building is completed. The Hopper Research Library, Sweeney Children's Gallery, Donnell Gallery of Sports Art, and Beecher Court are opened.


New Trumbull County Branch

With the assistance of the Medici Foundation of Trumbull County, The Butler constructs and opens a Trumbull County branch museum in Howland, Ohio.


4th Expansion

33,000 square foot addition Beecher Center is dedicated. It is a joint project with Youngstown State University devoted to electronic and digital art, the first of its kind.


The Andrews Pavilion

The Andrews Pavilion including Winslow's Café (now Collections Café) and an enlarged gift show is opened.


First Christian Church

The Butler purchases the 20,337 square foot First Christian Church located next to the museum for education classes and other future purposes.


Glass Bridge

Glass bridge construction completed connecting The Butler to The First Christian church next door, leading to newly open Americana exhibitions.


Centennial Year

The Butler Institute of American Art's centennial year, celebrating one hundred years of great American art.

More Than Art

The Butler is much more than art. With fun stories, interesting history, artist profiles and more, here visitors learn about all of the different aspects of The Butler as well as fascinating snippets of behind the scenes action.