About the Museum

About the Museum About the Museum
Art Illuminates our lives. 


The Saint Mary's College Museum of Art acts on the belief that art illuminates our lives and creates a more humane world. 

  • We affirm our institutional mission to develop the whole person. 
  • We are committed to fostering curiosity and wonder through exhibitions, collections, and programs. 
  • We bridge regional art, interests, and the world.
  • We cultivate cultural discovery, bringing people and art together.



Saint Mary’s College of California began collecting art in the early 20th century.  Founded by professor Brother Fidelis Cornelius Braeg in 1934, the collection comprised landscape paintings by artist William Keith (1838–1911). As a professor, Brother Cornelius wrote Old Master of California, the paramount William Keith biography, after spending years working with William Keith's widow Mary McHenry Keith. 

The gallery was expanded in 1977 with a grant from the Hearst Art Foundation and reopened as the Hearst Art Gallery. Through this expansion, the gallery began exhibiting work and objects including ethnographic materials and western artists.

In 2011, the Hearst Art Gallery completed an extensive renovation and expansion project. Through the generosity of donors, the museum expanded exhibition space by forty percent and built a large storage and maintenance facility. Following Brother Cornelius' legacy, this expansion ensures continued excellence in exhibitions and care for the Museum’s permanent collection. The Hearst Art Gallery became the Saint Mary's College Museum of Art through this expansion. The Museum of Art continues to provide quality exhibits while managing a permanent collection of over 5,000 pieces.