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15 Most Impressive College Museums

Most people realize that colleges typically offer research facilities, libraries, and athletic resources. But what may not be obvious is the incredible collections that many colleges house in their museums. From archeology to art, these college museums are worth a visit.

  1. University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology: At this Ivy League museum, you'll find an incredible collection of archeology and anthropology artifacts. The museum itself has conducted more than 400 expeditions, and boasts an endowment of $6 billion.
  2. Smith College Museum of Art: In this museum, you'll find over 23,000 works of art, many of which are in the Cunningham Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. Newly expanded in 2003, Smith College's museum of art has a 4-floor permanent collection, most well known for its 19th and 20th century European and American art, and about a dozen rotating exhibits.
  3. Lincoln Heritage Museum: Located in Lincoln, Illinois, the Lincoln Heritage Museum offers a great tribute to President Lincoln. You'll find the Hall of Presidents with a rare collection of original, hand written letters and other documents from every President. The Heritage Museum has an award-winning Lincoln and Civil War collection, and is considered one of the 10 best Lincoln-related sites in Illinois.
  4. Williams College Museum of Art: Once the college's library, the Williams College Museum of Art has more than 13,000 works spanning the history of art. In this collection, you'll find artwork that represents a broad range of time periods and cultures, plus additional works of art in loan exhibitions. The Williams College Museum of Art is completely free to visit.
  5. Science Museum of the University of Coimbra: If you'd like to study the history of science, the University of Coimbra's collection is a great place to visit. It is considered the most important science collection in Portugal, and one of the most important in Europe as well. Visit this museum, and you'll find more than 1 million items spanning physics, botany, zoology, anthropology, mineralogy, astronomy, and geology.
  6. Wellesley Davis Museum and Cultural Center: Just outside of Boston on the Wellesley campus is the Davis Museum and Cultural Center. This museum boasts an impressive collection for a college museum, with works by Andy Warhol and De Kooning. And it is open to the public free of charge.
  7. Naval War College Museum: One of 15 official museums operated by the US Navy, the Naval War College Museum offers collections that tell the history of naval activities in the area since the colonial period. You'll also find works that share the history of the art and science of naval warfare since ancient times.
  8. Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive: At the BAM/PFA, you will find one of the largest university art museums in the US. This collection has more than 13,000 items, sharing Asian art, mid-20th century art, early American painting, and art from California and the Bay Area. In addition to art exhibitions, you'll find an excellent film archive with 650 public screening programs each year.
  9. Homewood Museum: Homewood is located on the Johns Hopkins University campus, and is a US National Historic Landmark listed on the US National Register of Historic Places. It is one of the nation's best surviving examples of the Federal period of architecture. Its collections include architecture, furniture, and American history, with a specific focus on 19th century Baltimore.
  10. Trinity College Old Library: The Old Library at Trinity College Dublin houses an incredible collection of documents, including the Book of Kells, a 9th century gospel manuscript. Other highlights include the Early Printed Books Reading Room and the Manuscripts Reading Room.
  11. Harvard Museum of Natural History: Located on the grounds of Harvard University, the Harvard Museum of Natural History includes the Harvard University Herbaria, Museum of Comparative Zoology, and Harvard Mineralogical Museum. It is also connected to the Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology. The museum serves as the public face of Harvard's natural history research, offering an understanding and appreciation of the natural world with unparalleled expertise in research faculty.
  12. Spelman College Museum of Fine Art: The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art was built in honor of the wife of Dr. William H. Cosby, with an exhibition space of 4,500 square feet including archives, classrooms, a media center, and the Women's Research and Resource Center. The collection's greatest strength is considered to be its modern and contemporary works on paper, as well as its African-American women artists works.
  13. Collegium Maius: The Collegium Maius at Jagiellonian University is the oldest university edifice in Poland, with a history that can be traced back to 1400. Within its walls, you will find university collections, and scientific instruments that are unique, even on a world scale.
  14. Fogg Museum: The Fogg Museum is the oldest of Harvard's art museums. It is well known for its holding of Western Art and works from the Middle Ages to the present. Most notable is the Maurice Werheim Collection, which includes impressionist and postimpressionist works including that of Degas, Matisse, van Gogh, and Picasso, all on the campus of Harvard University.
  15. Mills College Art Museum: Founded in 1925, the Mills College Art Museum focuses on the creativity of women as artists and curators. In this museum, you'll find exhibitions from both emerging and established artists on the national and international scale, including those from the Bay Area.

February 17th, 2011 written by Staff Writers

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