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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

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

100th Anniversary Gala made possible in part by:

AVI Food Systems 

Eric E. and Edith H. Bergstrom Foundation 



Joseph G. Butler, Jr. Sponsors

Vincent & Phyllis Bacon

Thomas J. Cavalier & Keith Downard/Stifel

HBK and Mr. & Mrs. Daniel Tidrick

Dr. Hai-Shiuh & Florence Wang


Winslow Homer Sponsors

Annie’s Fund

The Florence Simon and Ward Beecher Foundations

Dr. Gary Bitonte

Drs. John Dunne & Jenifer Lloyd

Dr. Constantine & Renae Economus

Atty. Nils & Kathleen Johnson

P & S Equities, Inc.

Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC

Barbara Tinkham   


John Singer Sargent Sponsors

Dr. Sal & Alma Apicella

Cliffe College of Creative Arts & Communication

Home Savings

In memory of Dr. Robert H. Baker

Dr. Nazim & Tazim Jaffer

Dr. & Mrs. Nicholas Katz

Sight For All United

Janet Yaniglos & Clyde Morris

William Merritt Chase Sponsors


Drs. Dean Ball & Darlene Mager

Dr. Dee Banks

Bruce & Phyllis Beard

Atty. Franklin & Nan Bennett

Drs. Raymond Boniface & Nancy Gant

Bill & Joyce Bresnahan

Tim & Kelly Bresnahan

Robert & Nan Buchanan

Samuel & Donna Boak

Wendell and Ruth Gerrard Cole

Ryerson & Caren Dalton

Quentin Duda

Dr. & Mrs. Gregory George

Raymond Johnson

Morton Kaish

Dave & Marge Kostolansky

James Lepore

Mr. & Mrs. Douglas Lumsden

Manchester, Newman & Bennett, LPA

Charlie & Teresa Masters

Mary & Jerald Melberg

Drs. Conseulo Mendez & Moonir El Hayek

Chris & Ed Muransky

Drs. Rolf & Marianne Nissen

Frank Pifer & Betty Cmil

Glenn Stevens & Regina Reynolds

Packer Thomas

Bob Savage & Nanette Lepore 

Scott Schulick

Rick Shale

Shermer Trust

J. Shipmon Foundation Inc.

Msgr. Robert Siffrin

Dr. & Mrs. Michael Shultz

Ellen & James Tressel

Honorable Kay Woods & Mr. Herman Carach

The Youngstown Foundation

Dr. and Mrs. Louis A. Zona

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.

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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.