One of the oldest collegiate art collections in the United States and the most comprehensive American art collection in Maine, the collection of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick is a national treasure. Works in the collection include spectacular portraits by Gilbert Stuart of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, painted around 1805 and bequeathed to the museum in 1811 by the university’s founder, James Bowdoin III.
As the museum planned a major renovation to update exhibit spaces and climate-control systems in 2003, the paintings were in need of conservation treatment. With a Conservation Project Support grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the museum was able to contract the services of the Williamstown Art Conservation Center, where the paintings were conserved, with surface and structural treatments where appropriate, making them stable enough to travel for major exhibitions.
In June 2006, the museum received a Preservation and Access grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities that will allow the purchase of proper storage and climate-control systems for installation in the newly renovated building, providing this collection of significant American art a safer, more accessible storage environment.