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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.

Explore

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.

Donate
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.

Tour
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.

Experience

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

1919

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.

1927

Henry Audubon Butler

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

1931

Expansion

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

1934

Joseph G. Butler

Joseph G. Butler III became Director

1967

National Register of Historic Places

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

1968

2nd Expansion

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

1981

Lou Zona

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

1987

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.

1996

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.

2000

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.

2003

The Andrews Pavilion

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

2005

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.

2013

Glass Bridge

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

2019

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.