Artist's rendition of MAM ca. 1912

MAM's History

MAM Through the Years


Front of MAM ca. 1914

MAM opens as a pioneer: one of the country’s first museums primarily engaged in collecting American art (including the work of contemporary, nonacademic artists) and among the first dedicated to the study and creation of a significant Native American art collection. The Museum’s collection began with gifts from prominent Montclair residents, William T. Evans and Florence Rand Lang, that included both American and Native American art, laying the foundation for the Museum’s holdings.  


MAM students ca. 1920s

Yard School of Art was founded in the community in 1924, just 10 years after the Museum itself. Now offering courses year-round to kids, teens, adults, and seniors of all abilities, courses cross a broad range of the artistic spectrum, including drawing, painting, collage, pastel, printmaking, and illustration. In 2011, the school launched two new areas: a Ceramics Studio and a Digital Media Lab.


The East Wing, one of Mrs. Lang's many gifts to MAM, being built in 1931

A large addition was constructed on the southeast side of building, including a lovely sculpture rotunda, to expand the museum’s exhibition and classroom space.


The museum grounds were developed as an arboretum by Howard Van Vleck, a horticulturist and honorary trustee. 


Junior League Volunteer Docents viewing a portion of the Native American collection ca. 1957

An extensive building improvement project is completed; the second floor expands across the North Gallery and is dedicated to the Native American collection, with a circular staircase leading from the front entrance area.


MAM’s African American Cultural Committee

MAM’s African American Cultural Committee was founded by artist Ben F. Jones, Montclair native and artist Janet Taylor Pickett, and by Montclair writer Valerie Wilson Wesley with a mission to sustain and maintain the legacy of artists of the African Diaspora.


Yard School of Art merges with MAM.


Model depicting the new expansion of MAM, including the main building and surrounding grounds

MAM completes a major expansion that more than doubles the size of the museum from 20,000 to 42,000 square feet, enabling it to dramatically expand its programming and permanently display its collections of American paintings and Native American art and artifacts.


MAM's 100 year celebration cake depicting the facade of the Museum

MAM celebrates 100 years with a yearlong program of activities, including a Birthday Party on January 15, exactly 100 years from its founding.  In honor of the Centennial, the Museum also commissioned internationally renowned artist Spencer Finch to create Yellow (2013), a site-specific permanent installation for the Museum’s façade. 

MAM Today

Exterior of MAM Fall 2019

Montclair Art Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works and continues to seek novel ways, through its exhibitions, education programs, and outreach efforts, to inspire and inform its growing and ever more diverse audiences.