The Butler Institute of American Art Turns 100

No matter how it’s defined, a 100th birthday is certainly cause for celebration. And in 2019, The Butler Institute of American Art reached this milestone with plans for special exhibits, activities and events, including a special celebratory gala in October.

Founded by Youngstown industrialist Joseph G. Butler Jr. to house his extensive collection of American art, The Butler opened to the public in October 1919. It was established as the first museum in the country dedicated to works created solely by American artists. It was founded “pro bono publico” (for the public good) and has maintained its free admission policy throughout its history. Known worldwide as “America’s Museum,” its holdings now exceed 20,000 individual pieces in all media, covering four centuries of work. The Butler’s permanent collection is a true
reflection of America’s history, arranged in chronological order. Director and curator, Dr. Louis Zona, has been known to say, “A visit to The Butler is like a walk through American history, with masterpieces leading the way.”

Browsing through the museum’s marbled halls, you’ll find important paintings by Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent, Edward Hopper and William Merritt
Chase, to name just a few. You will also find Snap the Whip by Winslow Homer, the centerpiece of the museum’s 19th century holdings. This painting of children playing outside of a one-room schoolhouse is known as “America’s Mona Lisa.” The Butler is part of Mahoning County’s ‘Art, Wine and Roses” itinerary suggesting a day at The Butler, a visit to Fellows Riverside Gardens and visits to several area wineries. Participants pick up a passport at a winery, buy a glass of wine, get their passport stamped and collect a custom wine charm unique to each winery. Those that visit at least five wineries can redeem their passport for a keepsake wine charm box, plus a bonus charm.

The Butler Institute of American Art is located at 524 Wick Avenue in Youngstown, Ohio. For more information, call 330-743-1107 or visit

Upcoming 100th Anniversary Exhibits


MAY 5 – SEPT. 1

Mark Perrott has spent decades documenting the ever-expanding tribe of tattooed Americans. He made his first portraits at Island Avenue Tattoo in Pittsburgh in 1979, and since then has explored tattoo parlors all across America. In his current series, “Ancient Ink,” Perrott turns his camera to the now increasing tribe of highly decorated, aging, and graying baby boomers. Through large scale photographs and accompanying interviews, Perrott introduces the viewer to dozens of individuals. “These subjects,” Perrott says, “speak of resilience, loss, transformation, mystery, and the emancipation that sometimes comes with growing old.”


MAY 26 – JULY 28

This annual juried show exhibits the artworks of adult artists from throughout the United States and its territories. The exhibition includes accepted works in all two dimensional media, including oil, watercolor, acrylic, pastel, drawings, prints, photographs and digital.


AUG. 18 – NOV. 10

“Paxton’s Women” includes more than 40 large-scale and richly detailed paintings by accomplished portraitist and figure painter, William McGregor Paxton (1869 – 1941). The exhibition also incorporates a selection of works by the artist’s wife and muse, Elizabeth Okie Paxton (1877 – 1971). William Paxton, a member of the Boston School of Painters, is known for his meticulously detailed interiors. “Paxton’s Women” focuses on the artist’s repeated explorations of late nineteenth and early twentieth century femininity using a few preferred models, including his wife. The selection of works by Elizabeth Okie Paxton, best remembered as a painter of still lifes and interiors, reveal how she pursued her own work while often serving as inspiration for her husband’s artistic output.