McMaster Museum of Art

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McMaster Museum of Art
McMaster Museum of Art entrance.jpg
Established 1967: McMaster Art Gallery
1994: McMaster Museum of Art
Location McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario
Coordinates 43°15′46″N 79°55′05″W / 43.26266°N 79.91803°W / 43.26266; -79.91803
Type Art Museum
Website Official website

The McMaster Museum of Art (MMA) is a non-profit public art gallery at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. The museum is located in the heart of the campus, attached to Mills Memorial Library and close to the McMaster Student Centre.


McMaster University was founded in 1887, in Toronto, and the art collection began soon after as portraits of presidents and faculty accumulated.[1] A donation of European prints by the Carnegie Institute in the 1930s led to more systematic collecting and programming. By the 1950s, regular art exhibitions were presented on campus in Mills Memorial Library.

In 1967, with the help of the Chair of the History Department, Dr. Togo Salmon, the McMaster Art Gallery was given a purpose-built facility in the east wing of Togo Salmon Hall.[2] The Gallery moved across campus to its present larger location where it opened to the public under a new name, the McMaster Museum of Art, on June 11, 1994.[1][3] Five year's later the building was renamed the Alvin A. Lee Building in honour of President Emeritus Alvin A. Lee, an influential champion of the MMA, whose efforts helped make the current building possible.


The MMA offers year-round exhibits consisting of historical, modern and contemporary art. In addition to hosting a graduate studio art class exhibit, the MMA also hosts a variety of public events including lunch and learn sessions, artist talks and workshops.[4] The MMA's Education Gallery serves as a multipurpose room for lectures and study and is home to the Museum’s modest library made up of books, artist’s files and exhibition catalogues.[5]

The MMA belongs to the Ontario Association of Art Galleries reciprocal program, through which members of participating galleries receive free admission to all galleries.[6]


Waterloo Bridge, Effet de Soleil
Claude Monet 1903, oil on canvas.
Gift of Herman Levy, 1984.

Many faculty members and the Wentworth House Art Committee, established to acquire contemporary Canadian and European art, guided the growth of the collection. Professors Karl Denner (German Department) and George Wallace (Art and Art History Department) are credited with the advancement of the German Expressionist art collection in the early 1960s.[7][2]

The donation of over 200 European works in the 1980s by Hamilton jeweler Herman Levy O.B.E. put the Museum on the map in the Canadian art scene.[8] He later bequeathed $15.25 million to the Museum with specific directions that the money must be spent within five years, on acquisition of art of non-North American origins. More recently, the Donald Murray Shepherd Trust provided funds for the purchase of contemporary European art from notable artists such as David Bomberg, Christian Rohlfs, and Natalia Goncharova.[2]

The permanent collection, one of the finest University collections in the country, consists of over 7,000 objects.[9] It includes:

The Museum’s Paper Centre contains over 4,000 prints, drawings, and watercolours that the public can view by appointment.[11]

The MMA is also home to the Bruce Brace Coin Collection, which consists of coins and medallions from Rome and Greece.[12] The Collection has been the focus of numismatic inquiry aimed at improving what is known about daily life and trade in ancient Rome and Greece from as early as the fifth century BC to the fall of the Roman empire.[13]

Collaborative Projects[edit]

McMaster Museum of Art works with faculties across campus. Recent projects/exhibitions using University research and experts include:

  • Light Echo : Department of Physics and Astronomy[14]
  • Rising to the Occasion : English & Cultural Studies (John Douglas Taylor Conference)[15]
  • Togo Salmon Centenary Exhibition : Classics Department[16]
  • Synasthesia Exhibition : Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences[17]
  • Fierce : Theatre and Film Studies[18]
  • Scrapes : Faculty of Humanities[19]
  • Allyson Mitchell: Ladies Sasquatch : Women’s Studies[20]
  • First Contact? Exhibition Talk : Indigenous Studies[21]
  • Faculty Exhibition / Annual Graduating Student Exhibitions : McMaster School of the Arts
  • A Glimpse of China in the 18th Century : Art History and The Confucious Institute[22]
  • The Art of Seeing – Visual Literacy Course with Department of Family Medicine : Faculty of Health Sciences[23]
  • Chewa Masks of Pain and Loss: AIDS in Malawi : Department of Anthropology[24]


  1. ^ a b "McMaster Museum of Art". Get With the Program. Retrieved 30 October 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "McMaster Museum of Art opens 125 & 45. An Interrogative Spirit". Museum Publicity. Retrieved 30 October 2015. 
  3. ^ Canadian Art Magazine, Winter 1996, ‘The Legacy’ by Sarah Hampton, pp 38-49
  4. ^ "McMaster Museum of Art". Cobalt Connects. Retrieved 30 October 2015. 
  5. ^ "Library". McMaster Museum of Art. Retrieved 30 October 2015. 
  6. ^ Ontario Association of Art Galleries
  7. ^ The Art Collection of McMaster University (1987), McMaster University, Kim G. Ness. 330 pages, illustrated
  8. ^ The Hamilton Spectator, Art Museum Marks Two Birthdays by Regina Haggo, February 2, 2012
  9. ^ Tourism Hamilton, May 2011,
  10. ^ Van Gogh Gallery
  11. ^ London Arts
  12. ^ Brace, Bruce R. "History of the Collection". McMaster Museum of Art Online Roman Coin Collection. Retrieved 30 October 2015. 
  13. ^ Hemsworth, Wade (December 8, 2010). "Ancient coins buy McMaster researchers a look at the past". The Hamilton Spectator. Retrieved 30 October 2015. 
  14. ^ Canadian Art Magazine
  15. ^ Akimbo Art News
  16. ^ McMaster Daily News website
  17. ^ Marcia Smilack’s website
  18. ^ The Toronto Star,
  19. ^ McMaster Faculty of Humanities Website
  20. ^ Canadian Art Video Interview
  21. ^ McMaster Museum of Art Blog
  22. ^ Hanban news
  23. ^ Macleans Magazine Article
  24. ^ McMaster Daily News

External links[edit]

Media related to McMaster Museum of Art at Wikimedia Commons