Paintings & Sculpture Online

Since the 1820s, the Boston Athenæum has, among other things, functioned as an art museum. In fact, until its own trustees took the lead in founding, in the 1870s, an institution that would eventually dedicate itself to the fine arts in Boston, the Athenæum single-handedly filled that role in the city. Following what would later become standard museum practice, the Athenæum pursued its mission in two ways: by regularly mounting exhibitions of contemporary and historical art; and by collecting objects to form a permanent collection.