Saint Mary’s Debuts New Museum of Art

Saint Mary's Museum of ArtSaint Mary’s unveiled the newly expanded and renamed Saint Mary’s College Museum of Art at a grand opening on October 2 that featured a special 100th anniversary exhibition of the paintings of William Keith. The $600,000 expansion of the Hearst Art Gallery has created two new galleries and increased exhibition space by about 50 percent.

Before the ribbon cutting, historian Kevin Starr, California’s librarian emeritus, delivered an address entitled “Thinking About William Keith: Some Centennial Considerations.” The event also celebrated the unveiling of a new book, “The Comprehensive Keith: The Hundred Year History of the Saint Mary’s College Collection of Works by William Keith.” The museum has the most comprehensive collection of Keith paintings in the world, and the exhibition features about 25 of the 180 paintings in the collection, as well as letters, articles and memorabilia, including Keith’s personal desk.

The museum expansion, which was the brainchild of Gallery Director Carrie Brewster, was made possible by a number of generous contributions, including gifts from the estate of Mary Torrey Dooms; the estate of Julia Bennett Armistead, mother of SMC art collections manager Julia Armistead; Charlene Harvey; and several anonymous donors. Funds were also raised during an event at the Clars Auction Gallery in Oakland on September 8 and through the sale of personalized commemorative bricks for the Art Courtyard.

“It’s like the stars were lining up to make this happen,” said Brewster.

With the expansion, the museum, which is accredited by the American Association of Museums, now boasts six galleries, including the Keith Room. The lower gallery has been renamed the Hearst Gallery. The upper gallery is named the Walker Foundation Gallery in honor of a significant pledge from the foundation, and the long gallery is the John and Julia Armistead Gallery.

Plans for the new space include an annual juried exhibition of work by Saint Mary’s students. “This will give us lots of opportunities,” said Brewster. “Now we can show our works from the permanent collection,” which includes about 4,500 objects. “It will also allow us to showcase the works of Bay Area artists and emerging artists.”

To donate to the museum: To purchase a commemorative brick: To order a copy of “The Comprehensive Keith”: