108. University Art Museum


The Princeton University Art Museum, widely considered one of the nation’s best collegiate art collections, was developed in conjunction with the art and archeology department in the late nineteenth century.  The founders and early proponents of the program, including President James McCosh, art professors Allan Marquand ’1874 and William Prime ’1843, and General George McClellan (as the former New Jersey governor, McClellan was an ex-officio College trustee) strongly believed that original works of art were essential to the instruction and study of art history.  This postcard shows the collection’s first home—the Museum of Historic Art, completed in 1892.  Designed to be the centerpiece of a larger structure whose wings were planned but never constructed, this Romanesque-revival building featured intricate brickwork patterns and a terracotta facsimile of a portion of the Parthenon’s frieze. In the face of rapid expansion, the department and art library were relocated in 1921 to the newly-constructed and adjacent McCormick Hall.  In 1964, the original museum was demolished and replaced by an expanded McCormick Hall.  Today, the University’s art collections consist of 60,000 objects, including the dramatic Putnam Memorial Collection of twentieth-century sculpture displayed throughout the campus grounds.