1928: Phillips Academy alumnus, trustee, and benefactor Thomas Cochran (1871–1936, PA 1890) donates 50 American paintings to Phillips Academy in honor of the school’s 150th Anniversary and calls for the establishment of an art museum at the school.
: Ground is broken for the museum building designed by architect Charles A. Platt (1861–1933).
1930: Charles H. Sawyer (1906–2005, PA 1924) is appointed first director of the Addison.
: The Addison Gallery of American Art, named for Cochran’s late friend Keturah Addison Cobb, opens to the public in May. The core collection of approximately 500 works includes paintings by Winslow Homer, Arthur B. Davies, George Bellows, and Thomas Eakins.
1931: The museum’s first exhibition showcases late Addison art committee member Lizzie P. Bliss's (1864–1931) collection of cutting edge modern American and French art. Her bequest to the Addison includes paintings by Walt Kuhn and Maurice Prendergast.
: Studio art classes for Phillips Academy students commence in the basement of the Addison; Bartlett H. Hayes Jr. (1904–1988, PA 1922) is hired as an art instructor.
1934: The Addison purchases four pictures by Margaret Bourke-White, the first photographs to enter the museum’s collection.
1936: Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright lectures to the Phillips Academy community at the Addison Gallery on October 23.
1938: The Addison assembles the first ever John Sloan retrospective exhibition and publishes the accompanying catalogue.
1940: Charles H. Sawyer assumes the directorship of the Worcester Art Museum. Bartlett H. Hayes Jr. is appointed director of the Addison and chairman of Phillips Academy’s art department.
: The museum acquires Alexander Calder’s
,1942 and Washington Allston’s
, c. 1805.
1944: Miss Anne P. Peabody, registrar at the Addison, donates Josef Albers’s
Bent Black (A), 1940 to the museum through Hayes’ “Art Begins at Home: The Addison Gallery Gift Plan” project.
1944: Childe Hassam’s
Early Morning on the Avenue in May 1917 arrives at the Addison, followed by Winslow Homer’s
Kissing the Moon, 1904 two years later, both bequests of Candace C. Stimson.
1946: Charles Sheeler serves as the Addison Gallery’s first artist-in-residence.
1947: Hayes mounts
Seeing the Unseeable, a retrospective exhibition of work by Hans Hoffman.
Search for the Real and Other Essays, the first anthology of essays composed by an Abstract Expressionist artist, is published.
: Peggy Guggenheim donates Jackson Pollock’s Abstract Expressionist canvas
1953: Georgia O’Keeffe donates twenty-two volumes of Alfred Stieglitz’s magazine
1953: The Addison mounts the first museum exhibition of selected works belonging to art collector William H. Lane.
1956: In celebration of the Addison’s 25th Anniversary, a number of prominent works enter the museum’s collection, including Frederick Remington’s
Moonlight—Wolf, c. 1909, John F. Peto’s
Office Board for Smith Brothers Coal Company, 1879, and Edward Root’s donation of
Freight Cars, Gloucester, 1928 by Edward Hopper.
: George Inness’s
, 1873 is given by Stephen C. Clark in honor of the 25th Anniversary.
1958: William and Saundra Lane donate Patrick Bruce’s
Peinture/Nature morte, c. 1924, Franz Kline’s
Abstract, 1948, and Hyman Bloom’s
Cadaver No. 1, c. 1952.
1964: Hayes appoints Christopher C. Cook (1932–2021) to the position of assistant director.
1967: Cook curates
Feelies: The Nature of Things Perceived Through Touch, one of many interactive exhibitions that encourages a greater range of sensory experience.
1969: Bartlett Hayes becomes director of the American Academy in Rome; assistant director Chris Cook begins his 20-year tenure as director of the Addison.
1973: The exhibition The Black Photographer 1908–1920 is organized by the Addison.
: The Addison’s 50th Anniversary celebration begins on May 8. Related activities include film screenings, live music, art-making workshops, and seminars. The exhibition
Frank Stella: From Start to Finish
, showcases Stella’s (PA 1954) artistic process and draws national attention.
: The Edwin J. Beinecke Trust donates Eadweard Muybridge’s epic 11-volume photographic series
1989: Chris Cook steps down as director to teach full-time at Phillips Academy. Artist Jock Reynolds (b. 1947, PA 1965) becomes the Mary Stripp & R. Crosby Kemper Director.
1991: The Addison Art Drive is launched to add one hundred modern and contemporary works to the permanent collection. 113 works are acquired, among them Ellsworth Kelly’s Untitled (Green, Red-Orange), 1974, Jasper Johns’s
Untitled (Target), 1958, Maud Morgan’s
Gyre #3, 1947, and Martin Puryear’s sculpture
Untitled of 1981.
1993: To preserve the Addison’s legacy, the museum building is retrofitted with a state-of-the-art climate control system.
: Photographer Robert Frank serves as one of six artists-in-residence. The exhibition
Robert Frank—The Americans
showcases the purchase of the photographer’s landmark 84-image series for the permanent collection.
1996: The exhibition
Addison Gallery of American Art: 65 Years celebrates the museum’s anniversary. An eponymous catalogue of the collection is published.
: David Ireland, artist-in-residence, designs the
Abbot Hall artist apartment
in conjunction with architect Henry Moss and J.F. Sirois Architectural Woodworking.
1998: Jock Reynolds leaves the Addison to become the Henry J. Heinz II Director of the Yale University Art Gallery.
1999: Adam D. Weinberg (b. 1959) becomes the fifth director of the Addison. In 2003 he leaves to become the Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
2001: The Addison launches its first website.
2003: Visiting artist Fred Wilson guides visitors through the exhibition
Fred Wilson: Objects and Installations, 1979–2000.
2004: Brian T. Allen (b. 1956) becomes the Mary Stripp & R. Crosby Kemper Director of the Addison. He leaves at the end of 2013 to become Director of the Museum and Vice President of the New-York Historical Society.
2006: The Addison's entire permanent collection becomes browsable online through
2006: The exhibition Portraits of a People is dedicated to the memory of Charles Beard (1943–2004, PA 1962), member of the Phillips Academy Board of Trustees, and the Addison’s Board of Governors.
: The 75th Anniversary celebration begins with a series of exhibitions including In Focus: 75 Years of Collecting American Photography
Coming of Age: American Art, 1850s–1950s
, that highlight permanent collection masterworks from all media.
: The next seventy-five years begin with the major retrospective exhibition
Blog Addison is launched online to provide updates on Addison events, behind-the-scenes peeks, and commentary on the art field.
2008: The Addison Gallery closes for a two-year renovation and expansion project. Designed by Centerbrook Architects and Planners, the project restores the 1930 Charles Platt building and adds the new, 13,770-sq.ft. Sidney R. Knafel Wing, providing expanded, state-of-the-art storage facilities for the collection and housing the Museum Learning Center that allows increased access to collections and programs for students, teachers, and the public.
2010: The Addison celebrates its reopening with
Inside, Outside, Upstairs, Downstairs: The Addison Anew, a comprehensive exhibition of more than 300 art objects chosen from the museum’s collection.
2011: While the Addison celebrates the 80th anniversary of its founding, the museum completes the final phase of its construction project with the installation of a new glass roof. The new roof overlays the old to preserve the Addison Gallery’s historic, classical revival building, maintaining both the essential character of the building’s exterior appearance and the natural light that fills the second floor galleries.
2014: Judith F. Dolkart (b. 1970) is appointed the Mary Stripp & R. Crosby Kemper Director of the Addison. At the end of 2019, she leaves to become Deputy Director for Art, Education and Programs at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
2021: Allison Kemmerer (b. 1964) is appointed the Mary Stripp & R. Crosby Kemper Director of the Addison.