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 was appointed the first Director.

Henry Audubon Butler


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

Photo of original McKim, Mead and White building showing the addition of two new lower level wings.



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

A photo of Joseph G Butler, the new Director, wearing a three piece suit and standing in front of a photo in the gallery

Joseph G. Butler


Joseph G. Butler III became Director

A plaque that says 'This property has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior'

National Register
Of Historic Places


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

A photo taken in 1968 of the Butler showing the new second floors that were added to the previous expansion.

2nd Expansion


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

A photo of Louis A Zona in a gallery looking at artwork

Louis Zona


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

A photo of construction of the Butler's West Wing expansion

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.

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.

A photo of the Andrews Pavilion in the evening. All the lights are on inside so you can see into the interior of the building.

The Andrews Pavilion


The Andrews Pavilion including an enlarged museum store and café is opened.


A picture of First Christian Church which is now Butler North. A sign in front says 'The Butler Education Center'

Butler North


The Butler purchases the 20,337-square-foot First Christian Church located adjacent to the museum to display items in its Americana and Folk Art collections, relocate the education department and art classes, and host various events in the Great Hall.


A photo of a ribbon cutting ceremony with 5 men and 1 woman holding scissors

Bitonte Skywalk


Construction completed connecting the original Butler building to Butler North to facilitate access to the new Folk Art and Americana galleries.


Centennial Year


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

front view of new bacon wing facade, featuring floor to ceiling glass windows

Vincent & Phyllis Bacon Wing


The Institute is expanded with a three-story,  3,810-square foot addition designed by architect C. Robert Buchanan and located in front of Beecher Center. New exhibition galleries are added, including the Bacon Grand Gallery, which permanently displays Pierre Soulages’ ceramic mural titled 14 May 1968. In 2009, this was salvaged by Dr. Zona from the Oliver Building, in Pittsburgh. The mural is behind glass windows and is illuminated at night, making it visible from Wick Avenue.