Main content


On View
January 24, 2024
Klein Gallery
A project in The Making of a Museum: 50 Years exhibition

1969—1974 explores the role of Roy R. Neuberger as one of the most important collectors of his day, the conceptualization, design, and construction of the Museum, and its use in the early 1970s by the students and faculty of Purchase College prior to the formal opening of the Neuberger Museum of Art in 1974.

Roy R. Neuberger was one of the twentieth century’s greatest private collectors. Early in 1969, he was approached by New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller to donate a portion of his collection to the State University of New York to found a museum at what would become Purchase College, the arts campus of the SUNY system. Roy believed in Rockefeller’s vision and wanted his collection to be a part of it, providing visual arts education to generations of students attending a public college devoted to the arts.

The master plan for the campus, designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes, who had just completed the master plan for the SUNY campus at Potsdam, envisioned an “academical” village modeled on Thomas Jefferson’s master plan for the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where the first Purchase College president Abbott Kaplan’s executed his vision of cross-curricular learning—spanning the arts, the liberal arts, and science—with inventiveness and fluidity.

Groundbreaking occurred in 1969, and Barnes’s architectural plan was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1971. When the building that now houses the Neuberger Museum of Art was completed in 1972, it was the only finished structure on the campus and initially served as classroom space, the library, and faculty offices. In May 1974, the building opened to the public as the Neuberger Museum of Art.

Generous financial support for The Making of a Museum: 50 Years  exhibition has been provided by ArtsWestchester, with funding made possible by Westchester County government with the support of County Executive George Latimer; the Purchase College Foundation; and the Friends of the Neuberger Museum of Art.

Additional support for Neuberger Museum of Art exhibitions and programs has been provided by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.