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Admission is Free & 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.


Our 88th National Midyear Exhibition Is Open for Entries!

The Midyear is an annual juried exhibition of original work open to any artist 18 years of age or older and living in the United States of America or its territories.


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Art at The Butler

The Butler is unique among museums. It exists to collect and preserve works of art in all media 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.

Exhibition / Featured

John Greenman photographs, 1992-2018: An evolving approach to color

Exhibition / Featured

Greatness Revealed: The Art of African Americans from the Butler Collection

Exhibition / Featured

Founding Father: George Washington Tactile Images

Exhibition / Featured

Pastel Society of America’s 51st Exhibition

Exhibition / Featured

Jef Janis: Streets of Cleveland

Exhibition / Featured

Washington: The Myths and the Man


88th Annual Midyear Exhibition


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 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 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 museum store 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.

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