1926 Organized by Miss Deborah D. Weisel as the
Art Study Club with seven original members.
1927 Art Study Club sponsored their first
exhibition and purchased a painting with public
contributions: “ The King” by Mary Butler.
1928 Incorporated as Springfield Art Museum with
museum quarters located on 2nd floor of the Public
1929 Sponsored the First Annual Exhibition to
exhibit work of Ozark artists.
1937: A bill for city support was defeated by
Springfield voters; however, space was given for an
enlarged museum in the City Hall Building.
1940: Miss Weisel began circulating exhibits with
work selected from Ozark shows. The corporation
continued to sponsor exhibits, art school instruction,
art study groups, lectures and the collection of
historical objects of Ozark tradition.
1943: Building Fund Drive raised record pledges.
1946: January 30th the City Council voted a
special levy to include support of the Art Museum and a
nine-member board was appointed.
1947: The corporation deeded the museum and its
properties to the City of Springfield. It reorganized to
be known as the Southwest Missouri Museum Associates,
Inc. Better known as SMMA
1950: Established a Memorial Fund for the
Museum’s founder, Miss Deborah D. Weisel to build The
Deborah D. Weisel Memorial Gallery in the new museum
building with contributions from her family with the
sale of her own paintings.
1958: Construction of the new museum was began. SMMA presented a substantial financial gift to the mayor
as their contribution to the construction of the
1960: Money was given to the Museum to build a
pool and pave the patio west of the foyer.
1961: The patio was completed, planted and
furnished with SMMA funds. The pool and waterfall were
gifts of the Phelps Grove Garden Club. Mrs. S.F. Freeman
designed the fountain.
1962: The first Purchase Award from the first
Watercolor USA competition was donated to the museum
1971: Vincent Price was featured as the Speaker
for the Watercolor USA banquet and attended the
1972: The first four SMMA Life Memberships were
purchased and added to the Building Fund.
1973: The SMMA Board and Museum Board decided to
build the new auditorium.
1974: City Council Bill 74.95 commended SMMA for
their accomplishment in developing the Museum.
1975: The opening of the Springfield Art Museum
Auditorium featured an address by Dr. Thomas Hoving,
Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
1980: The main project this year was the paving
and lighting of the west parking lot of the Art Museum.
With the Springfield Sesquicentennial, the SMMA
Auditorium was dedicated and presented to the City of
1984: Renovated galleries were opened with SMMA
contributions matched by the Leona C. Kelley Bequest.
1991: The Project Fund pledged a major
contribution toward the construction of the Jeannette L.
Musgrave Wing with groundbreaking scheduled for 1994.
1993: SMMA was awarded the Ozzie by the
Springfield Arts Council for their contributions to the
1997: SMMA with their current membership
constitutes the single largest organization dedicated to
the cultural growth of Southwest Missouri.
2001: Mrs. Ruth Sigmon, in memory of her parents,
Mr. & Mrs. Walter Pettit, established an SMMA Endowment
Fund through the Community Foundation's Partnering
2003: SMMA was honored to celebrate our 75th
anniversary with a Special Exhibit of the paintings
purchased by our group for the museum.
2008: SMMA contributed $200,000.00 toward the
building of the new wing, a new Museum Shop and new SMMA
SMMA has a rich heritage
and continues to contribute to the growth of the
Springfield At Museum.
Miss Deborah Weisel came to Springfield, MO in
1921 to teach Fine Arts at Springfield State
Teachers College, now MSU. She organized an art
study club with a broad and clear vision to
share the arts and artworks with the region with
the ultimate goal of establishing an art museum.
Her legacy is honored with a gallery that bears
her name in the Springfield Art Museum.
Before the Springfield Art
Museum at 1111 East Brookside was built, several
municipal buildings were used to house and
exhibit the collection including the old City
Hall once called the Federal Building.
The original art museum was once in the
Springfield Public Library.