Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute

Exterior of Philip Johnson's first museum.

Our gallery has enjoyed a long history with the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, NY. We’re fortunate to have this gem of a museum, research center, and art school in our own backyard. The “Munstitute” as it’s affectionately called, houses one of the stealthiest and underrated collections of important art in America. Need to view a 16′ wide Jackson Pollock from his most important period? Check! Need to view Thomas Cole’s original “Voyage of Life” series? Check!

Originally established in 1919, the institute eventually added a School for Fine Arts in the 1940s, thus expanding the Institute’s mission from exhibiting fine art, to offering students the opportunity to study fine art as well. Today, the art school is connected to NYC’s Pratt Institute.

Easton Pribble's painting of the MWPAI being constructed in 1959.
Image courtesy of the Munson Williams Arts Institute.

In 1960 the MWPAI opened its stunning new museum building designed by Philip Johnson (1906-2005). This was the noted architect’s first museum commission. Above is Easton Pribble’s (1917-2003) painting of the construction phase of the museum. The museum’s collection houses treasures of American fine art from the 18-20th centuries, with especially strong holdings in 20th century American modernism.

Courtyard with glimpse of Jackson Pollock’s masterwork “Number 2, 1949”. Can you spot it? Photo: Jay Caldwell

Two paintings in MWPAI’s collection were acquired from our gallery – a rare fauvist 1922 landscape by George Ferdinand Of (1876-1954) entitled Houses, Westchester.

George Of painting of Houses Westchester, part of the collection of the MWPAI.
Image courtesy of the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute.

And a rare and important 1929 painting by artist, collector, and arts patron Katherine Dreier with I rediscovered – entitled Abstract Psychological Portrait of Ted Shawn.

Jay Caldwell in front of the Katherine Dreier work.

In 2015 we were fortunate to partner with the Museum in assisting them with their Easton Pribble bequest. The artist, who had taught at their fine art school for forty-five years, left 200 paintings to the Museum with the express intent they be sold to raise money for their Arts Acquisition Fund. We have been pleased to assist with this worthy fundraising effort.

Self-portrait of artist Easton Pribble at the MWPAI.
Image courtesy of the Munson Williams Arts Institute.

If you are traveling through Utica, New York (once we are past the shutdown from Covid-19) we encourage you to stop by and visit this fantastic, world-class museum.

The North entrance of an entrancing building. Photo: Jay Caldwell

2 thoughts on “Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute

  1. Jay, thank you for this piece on MWPAI. I have been smiling remembering the couple of years I had the privilege of sitting on the Board with your Dad who never missed an opportunity to promote reinstatement of the acquisition fund! Great man.

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