Museum hours: open daily Monday, Thursday-Saturday 11-5, Sunday 1 - 5|
Closed Tuesday & Wednesday & some holidays
Open 7 Days: June 1 -September 15
Monday 11 am to 8 pm
Tuesday through Saturday 11 am to 5 pm
Sunday 1 to 5 pm
Adults: $5 Seniors: $3 Students: $3
The development of The Parrish Art Museum from a small village museum into
an important regional art institution undoubtedly would have pleased its
founder, the cultural and civic-minded benefactor Samuel Longstreth Parrish
(1849-1932). Born into a family of prominent Philadelphia Quakers and
educated at Harvard (where he first developed his taste for Italian
painting), Samuel Parrish began collecting art seriously in the early 1880s,
shortly after moving his successful law practice from Philadelphia to New
It was during these same years that Parrish began paying regular visits to his family's home in Southampton. The village, then as now a popular summer resort, quickly caught his interest, and before long he became actively involved in its affairs.
While traveling in Italy in the fall of 1896, Parrish decided to build a museum in Southampton to house his rapidly growing collection of Italian Renaissance art. He purchased a small parcel of land adjacent to the library and commissioned a fellow Southampton summer resident, the architect Grosvenor Atterbury (1869-1956), to design a suitable structure.
The Museum was actually pieced together in several installments over a period of sixteen years. The first Art Museum at Southampton, as the Parrish was then known, was a single large exhibition hall. Constructed in wood and entered from Main Street, the hall was built during the summer of 1897. It was not until the following year that the Museum was incorporated and a catalogue of the collection, which included paintings, copies of classical and Renaissance sculpture was published. A few years later, a fireproof brick wing (designed by Atterbury and financed largely by Samuel Parrish's brother, James Cresson Parrish) was attached to the north side of the building. The new exhibition hall, completed in 1902 soon became a popular site for concerts and art lectures.
As the collection continued to expand, a second wing soon became necessary. In 1913, Atterbury extended the Museum to the south, toward Job's Lane. The new wing included a Renaissance-inspired arched loggia through which one entered the Museum,flanked by gates that permitted direct access to the gardens.
The collection and the building were bequeathed to the Village of Southampton when Samuel Parrish died in 1932. The founder's death, coupled with the Depression and the war years that followed, brought developments at the Museum to a standstill for the next two decades.
In the 1950s, the new president of the Museum's Board of Trustees, Mrs. Robert M. Littlejohn, brought new life to the Parrish. She launched a major campaign to strengthen the Museum's holdings in American art. Paintings by Thomas Moran, Childe Hassam, Guy Pene du Bois, and Thomas Doughty were added to the collection.
Upon Mrs. Littlejohn's death in 1961, the Parrish became the beneficiary of more than 300 paintings, drawings and watercolors from her personal collection. The core of her collection was a remarkable group of thirty-one paintings by William Merritt Chase.
One of the most important artists to live and work in Southampton at the turn of the century, William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) was also an extremely popular teacher at the Art Students League in New York. In 1891, he opened a summer art school in Shinnecock Hills, just west of Southampton. The school operated successfully for more than ten years. Now converted into private homes, the studio and student housing are known as the Art Village.
The distinguished Chase collection Mrs. Littlejohn assembled over the years - including Still Life with Cockatoo (ca. 1879), Prospect Park, Brooklyn (ca. 1887), and The Blue Kimono (ca. 1898) now form the nucleus of the Museum's extensive Chase holdings.
The Chase painting most closely associated with the Parrish today is unquestionably The Bayberry Bush (ca. 1895), a charming Shinnecock landscape in which three of Chase's daughters are grouped informally around a large bayberry bush. An accomplished example of American "plein-air" painting, the picture represents Chase at the height of his powers and displays his fondness for the light and colors of Eastern Long Island.
In 1981, further depth was added to the Museum's permanent collection when nearly 200 works of art by the prominent painter, critic and long-time Southampton resident Fairfield Porter (1907-1975) were donated to the Parrish by his wife Anne, and by the artist's estate.
Since the Porter bequest, the Parrish has increasingly focused its exhibition and acquisitions on American painting of the twentieth century, with special attention directed toward the generation of artists who have maintained studios on the East End of Long Island since the 1950s. Jane Freilicher and Larry Rivers, who together with Fairfield Porter helped revitalize figurative painting in 1950s, are represented by several works in the collection. More recent arrivals in the area include Chuck Close, Joan Snyder and Joe Zucker. A major painting by Albert Pinkham Ryder, who was important to artists such as Marsden Hartley and Jackson Pollock has been acquired.
Although the Parrish is best known for its American paintings, the permanent collection also contains a sizeable group of prints and drawings, among them works by George Bellows, Marsden Hartley, Larry Rivers, Helen Frankenthaler, and Robert Rauschenberg.
Enhancing the architectural charms of the Parrish are the peaceful, shaded gardens that surround the Museum, which contain more than 250 different trees and shrubs from around the world. The gardens are decorated with various sculpture reproductions from the original Parrish collection.
Among these reminders of the past, the Parrish actively looks toward the future. The curatorial staff maintains a full schedule of changing exhibitions in the Museum's galleries, with a focus on examining art of the recent past or contemporary work.
With its lively schedule of exhibitions, lectures, films, concerts, and art classes for young people, school programs and special programs for older audiences, the Parrish offers the public a rich variety of year-round cultural activities.
In the years to come, it will continue to provide its own special blend of personal pleasure and cultural enrichment for all who come to enjoy its peaceful gardens, its widely ranging exhibitions, and the many treasures of its permanent collection.
The Parrish Art Museum279 Montauk Highway - NEW
Water Mill, New York 11976
(formerly 25 Job's Lane in Southampton)