Museum History

As "The Official Fine Arts Museum for the City of Boca Raton." the Museum plays a key role in enhancing the cultural, educational, and economic vitality of Boca Raton and its surrounding communities, and has maintained the reputation of being one of South Florida's leading cultural institutions, attracting more than 100,000 visitors annually to its galleries and programs with even more being reached through our on-line programs, social media, and Art in Public Places initiative

Deeply rooted in the history of its city, the Boca Raton Museum of Art exemplifies the cultural impact and "ripple effect" of the arts in small towns across America. In Boca Raton, the Museum's roots reach back to the late 1940s, when a group of socially active women came together to form the town's first organization, a civic club, with the goal to build a small library. Two library board members, philanthropist Hildegarde Schine and socialite Roberta MacSpadden had been appointed to organize an Open House. They met in the 1920s Town Hall, where an estimated 1,000 people flooded the Library Open House, which included an exhibition of paintings, borrowed from friends and loaned by galleries from Palm Beach to Miami. There and then, the Library Association decided they should form an organization to further this interest in the fine arts. In 1950, The Art Guild of Boca Raton was born.

In 1961, construction of the first Art Guild building commenced, and in the fall of 1962, the Art Guild dedicated the building on Palmetto Park Road that the Museum occupied until January 2001, and that now houses its Arts School. Growth and expansion have been steady ever since those first years.


Museum original building

Within seven years, the building required an expansion, and three studio classrooms were added. In 1973, the Art Guild officially became a not-for-profit corporation, and twelve years later - in 1985 - changed its name to the Boca Raton Museum of Art. In 1978, the Museum hired its first full-time Director, and began a serious program of collections acquisition and changing exhibitions. By the late 1980s, the Board of Trustees began to address the need for future expansion to accommodate the growth of the Museum's collections.

In late 1997, the Museum made a commitment to build a new facility in downtown Boca Raton's Mizner Park. On January 24, 2001, the new Museum designed by architect Donald Singer, opened in Mizner Park. The 44,000 square foot facility made possible increased exhibition, education and collection galleries; to add public meeting and program areas; and to enhance fourfold the Museum's programming capabilities. It is a permanent architectural symbol of the City's pride in its past, commitment to the present, and faith in the future.


Museum Building in 2001

In June 2001, the Museum began expansion of its Art School on Palmetto Park Road, which now includes eight classrooms and a faculty/student exhibition gallery. The school offers over 100 weekly classes taught by 35 art instructors with an annual student population of 5,000.  

In 2020, the Museum opened two newly renovated spaces designed by the architectural firm of Glavovic Studio.  The Jody Harrison Grass Lobby takes center stage as a welcoming entry and informational nexus for our visitors.  The Wolgin Education Center becomes transformed as the Museum’s cornerstone to Mizner Park, making the strength of our award-winning art education programs even more visible to the community.

Glavovic Studio is currently in the design phase of rethinking the Sculpture Garden.  Our goal is to have it completed as we enter 2021 and the twentieth anniversary of the Museum’s move to Mizner Park.