Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester

4.6
#5 of 7 in Museums in Rochester
The Memorial Art Gallery is the civic art museum of Rochester, New York. Founded in 1913, it is part of the University of Rochester and occupies the southern half of the University's former Prince Street campus. It is the focal point of fine arts activity in the region and hosts the biennial Rochester-Finger Lakes Exhibition and the annual Clothesline Festival.HistoryThe Gallery is a memorial to James George Averell, a grandson of Hiram Sibley. After Averell died at age 26, his mother, Emily S. Watson (by then the wife of James Sibley Watson), spent several years seeking a way to publicly commemorate him. Meanwhile, Rush Rhees, president of the University of Rochester, had been looking for benefactors to help him add to the University's campus, then located on Prince Street in the City of Rochester. Hiram Sibley had some 30 years previous funded the construction of the University's library which displayed part of Sibley's art collection on its upper floor for a time, but Rhees wanted to construct a dedicated art gallery. The Rochester Art Club, which was the focal point for art enthusiasts of the area and which had exhibited and taught at art venues of the time (Reynolds Arcade, the Bevier Memorial Building, and the Powers Block) supported the creation of the gallery. Rhees assembled a board of managers, including the Art Club's president, George L. Herdle, in November 1912 and by the eighth of the following October, presided over the Gallery's opening. The inaugural exhibition consisted of paintings from dealers for sale, with the Gallery taking a 10% commission. The most wealthy families immediately gifted their purchases to the gallery to start its permanent collection.
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Memorial Art Gallery Reviews
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4.7
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  • August 7, 2017
    Founded as art gallery for U. of Rochester. Fine America collection from 18th to 21st century. Also good sampling of other cultures and eras on second floor. Well worth a visit when in Rochester. Easy...  more »
  • July 23, 2017
    Nice Art Gallery! It flows fairly easy. Some Cool peices. Took about 2 hours too walk through. They also had a garage sale going on in the other side of the building so that was a nice surprise.  more »
  • July 23, 2017
    Big museums can be exhausting, so we especially love these smaller museums associated with colleges/universities. One gets a good overview of the history of art, and discovers some real gems that may ...  more »
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  • July 9, 2017
    A must when visiting Rochester. Love the exhibits and the staff are welcoming and helpful. I used to participate (artist tent) in their annual Clothesline Festival, which is an amazing summer art festival. I'm happy to see they're still hosting it (Sept. 9 & 10). It's really great fun for the whole family!
  • March 17, 2017
    I love this place. My grandfather took me here often. He as a watercolor artist. He was a member of the museum back in the day. They even had him show off his art in the museum. This place is amazing and I love coming here. It's a huge museum. I recommend coming here to see art sculptures and history from all over.
  • May 18, 2017
    Love Memorial Art Gallery. If you have a student ID you can usually get a discount. Great for date night too. Plenty of places close by to eat. Lots of great views!
  • May 15, 2017
    This is one of the most amazingly laid out museums from around the world. You can literally spend an entire day here exploring. Check out their calendar of events online, which always have something going on. Every other Thursday is Movie Night at the museum, where you can also explore the museum till 9 PM. If you have your college ID, they give you a discount on admission. Every Sunday around 1 PM the organ player is upstairs in the Grand Fountain Court, and he sounds amazing as you explore the upstairs exhibits. The museum hosts a variety of high profile events like Devour Rochester, a food and wine culinary classic. The museum itself is broken up into a variety of sections, all which we will explore. Art's of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas: This is where you get the opportunity to see some old world art like ancient surfboards from Oceania to the HUGE ancient Mayan Tablet!! Seeing America: this exhibit goes through the entire progressive movement of American art. You can see the civil war sculptures of Abraham Lincoln, to a rocking chair from 1812. Then it will take you through the era of American Realism, to American Abstraction ( the art that you get to figure out, like a giant puzzle).. Focus on Rochester: this is where you get to see some amazing art work history from the era of Rochester. You will find that Rochester is home to many famous artists, and helped pave the way for the future of art everywhere. Modern Day Art: This is where you will find art of the modern world, laid out nicely with huge paintings/ and interactive exhibits. Grand Gallery: where the main special exhibits of the season are stored. Infinite Place- The Ceramic Art of Wayne Higby is currently on display. This exhibit gives you a panoramic image of ceramic art through a variety of sculptures/bowls. The Renaissance: this exhibit is A MUST!!! So many cool armors, swords, and outfits from the Renaissance era. You also get to see authentic stain glass windows from old churches on the walls. Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome: one word MUMMIES!!!! Seeing the Mummy tomb is the best thing about this section. European Art from the Medieval Times to the 20th Century: takes up a A BULK of the gallery upstairs, and really captures the moment of being back in the those times. The religious paintings and artifacts to look at creates a very moving, and powerful experience. It shows a great depiction of the Lord during that time, and his story through art. Asian Art: get ready to see a whole lot of Buddha statues, and tapestries. This exhibit comes full circle with the era of reincarnation. Ancient Middle East and Islam: learn about the history of Allah through ancient plates, and tablets. Overall: HUGE museum, variety of exhibits, organ player, high profile events, movie nights, and mummies. So stop complaining that there is nothing to do in Rochester, and check out the Memorial Art Gallery!!! Of course I will be back.
  • June 8, 2017
    My first visit was great. Lovely museum. Nice staff.

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Where to stay in Rochester

Rochester features an extensive network of expressways, allowing quick and easy access to most major attractions regardless of which part of town you stay in. To avoid downtown's pricey hotels, stay in the suburbs for comfortable accommodations as well as free shuttle service to and from the airport. If you prefer a cozy bed and breakfast atmosphere, choose an inn or small motel in one of the city's quiet residential neighborhoods.
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