• Joel Popadics

Five of My Favorite Art Collections

When I’m seeking inspiration and new ideas, I go to a museum and look at the old masters. A visit to a museum is a great way to spend the day and get the creative juices flowing.


In no particular order, here are few of my favorite museums.

John Singer Sargent, Incensing the Veil. Image courtesy of the Isabella Gardner Museum

1. Isabella Gardner Museum in Boston

25 Evans Way

Boston, MA 02115


By far, this is one of my favorites! Plus, it has a great story. The building is modeled after an Italian villa with an inner courtyard garden where something is always blooming. The paintings are displayed in themed rooms across three floors. It's just the right size - not too big and overwhelming. Click here to read a previous blog about this unique museum.


Here's the story...on the evening of March 9, 1990 the museum was robbed by two men who were disguised as police. To this day, the case has not been solved. The heist made international headlines and forever changed the way museums secure their art. The thieves spent an hour and eleven minutes in the museum; that's unusual since most robberies last no longer than ten to fifteen minutes!


A total of thirteen pieces were stolen. Most notable were three Rembrandts including the only seascape he ever painted, Christ in the Storm of the Sea. Also taken was a Vermeer painting - which is tragic because there's only thirty-six known Vermeer works in existence, five Degas pastels, and an Edouard Manet oil, Chez Tortoni. As per a condition in Isabella Gardner's will, none of the paintings have been replaced and empty frames hang on the wall as a reminder of the loss. Quite a few documentaries have been made about the robbery, including a four-part Netflix series, This Is a Robbery: The World's Biggest Art Heist. Click here to watch the trailer.


If you know anything, there's a $10,000,000 reward for information that leads to the safe recovery of the stolen works. If you do collect, please remember that it was me who tipped you off!


2. The Sterling and Francine Clark Museum

Clark Art Institute

225 South Street Williamstown, Massachusetts 01267


The Sterling and Francine Clark Museum is located in Williamstown, Massachusetts near Williams College. The museum was founded by Robert Sterling Clark, an heir to Singer sewing machine fortune. This smart collection features works by American and European artists from the Renaissance all the way to the early 20th century. It includes paintings by John Singer Sargent, George Inness, J. M. W. Turner, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, and Jean Baptiste-Camille Corot, to name a few.


Anyone who wishes to study their works on paper can make an appointment with the Manton Study Center for Works on Paper. You'll be able to view over six thousand works on paper featuring several Winslow Homer watercolors. Click here to apply through their website.


If you have time while you're in the area, check out Williams College. They have a terrific George Inness painting on display in the library.


Winslow Homer, An October Day. Image courtesy Clark Art Institute. clarkart.edu

3. The Brooklyn Museum

200 Eastern Parkway

Brooklyn, NY 11238

The Brooklyn Museum has an extensive watercolor collection, one of the best in the United States. Over the years they've hosted several impressive exhibitions including; Masters of Color and Light: Homer, Sargent and the American Watercolor Movement in 1998, Brushed with Light: American Landscape Watercolors from the Collection in 2007 and John Singer Sargent Watercolors in 2013.


Unfortunately, they take out their watercolors every seven years or so, but I enjoy their permanent collection that has works by Hudson River School artists William Trost Richards, Albert Bierstadt, Frederick Church, Thomas Eakins, and George Inness. Their European paintings includes oils by Henri-Joseph Harpignies, Jean-Francois Millet and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot from the French Barbizon School.


William Trost Richards, The Sakonnet River. Image courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum
Watercolor on Paper
John Whorf, Masted Ships. Image courtesy of the Princeton University Art Museum

4. The Princeton University Art Museum

Princeton University

Nassau Street

Princeton, NJ 08544


“Always free and open to the public” is the Princeton University Art Museum's motto. It's so worthwhile, I'd pay to enter anytime! It's located on the Princeton University campus and has over 112,000 works of art from all over the world.


Like the Brooklyn Museum, they has a vast collection of watercolors. Their most recent exhibition was Painting on Paper: American Watercolors at Princeton in 2015 and featured works by John James Audubon, Thomas Eakins, Childe Hassam, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Maurice Prendergast, John Singer Sargent, James McNeill Whistler, and Andrew Wyeth. I was able to catch the exhibition on the last day and was thrilled that I made effort to go.


The main museum is temporarily closed now due to a major renovation and is scheduled to reopen in 2024.


5. The Brandywine River Museum of Art

1 Hoffman’s Mill Road

Chadds Ford, PA 19317

Boston, MA 02115


The Brandywine River Museum of Art focuses on the art of the Wyeth family. This amazing art dynasty starts with the father; N.C. Wyeth, who was a prominent illustrator during the golden age of illustration; Andrew, the son, was famous for his watercolors and egg tempera paintings; and grandson, Jamie, is a noted contemporary painter. An entire floor in the gallery is devoted to N.C.'s large oil illustrations and a whole wing features Andrew's watercolors. You can also visit the nearby studios of both N.C. and Andrew.


Additionally, the museum has illustrations by James Montgomery Flagg, Harvey Dunn, Frank Schoonover, Howard Pyle and Maxfield Parrish, and their collection of American art includes Hudson River School painters, Jasper Cropsey, Albert Bierstadt and one of my favorites, William Trost Richards.


Do you have a favorite gallery or museum? Log in below to leave a comment, I’d love to hear about your favorites collections.

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