George Walter Vincent Smith Museum News

Springfield Museums Receive Large Federal Grant

George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum

August 24, 2011

The Springfield Museums at the Quadrangle have received a grant of $320,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) toward the installation of climate modification in the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum. The grant is part of the NEH’s Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections program.

The first museum to be built at the Quadrangle, the G.W.V. Smith Art Museum opened in 1896 to house the enormous and diverse collection of George Walter Vincent Smith and his Springfield-born wife, Belle Townsley. Smith made his fortune in a carriage manufacturing business in New York City and retired at the age of 35 to devote his life to “the pursuit of beauty.”

Smith’s collections include Asian decorative arts, Middle Eastern carpets and textiles, Japanese arms and armor, late-19th century American paintings, and Italian watercolors. Today, 115 years after the museum opened, Smith’s artistic vision has been preserved and his treasures are still on view in the museum with many objects in their original display cases.

The G.W.V. Smith Art Museum is the only one of the Springfield Museums that has no air-conditioning, resulting in excessive heat and humidity in the summer. It is sometimes necessary to close the building on the hottest days. The successful completion of the project will protect and preserve the collections and the structural integrity of the historic building, as well as provide a more comfortable environment for visitors.

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