The Addison Gallery of American Art is a wonderful, small, New England art museum. The Gallery, which opened in 1931, is on the grounds of the Phillips Academy, in Andover, Massachusetts. The museum, founded by Thomas Cochran, was somewhat unique when it opened – museums devoted solely to American art were rare at the time.

It is a small museum, yet the quality of the collection is amazing. There are major bodies of work by Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, Maurice Prendergast, Arthur B. Davies, and Abbott Thayer. Also in the collection are works by James Abbott MacNeill Whistler, Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent, George Bellows, Marsden Hartley, Edward Hopper, Charles Burchfield, Andrew Wyeth, Josef Albers, Jackson Pollock, Frank Stella, Jasper Johns, and many others. The photography collection includes works by Eadweard Muybridge, Walker Evans, Man Ray, Ansel Adams, and others.

At first, this sounds like nothing more than name dropping – there are enough small museums that advertise a similar list of names, but the works are, essentially, seconds. The Addison Gallery is different. The quality of the collection is generally of the highest level, though the works are smaller than the ones found in big museums.

The Addison Gallery of American Art is one of my favorite little museums. It is quiet, comfortable, and lacks the crowds of larger museums. And it is free.

More information about the Gallery, including a map of how to find it (you need the map!) is available at http://www.andover.edu/addison/

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