A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
The Noyes Museum of Art, the only fine arts museum in southern New Jersey, is filled with treasures of American art, especially folk art and crafts. With several locations in southern New Jersey, The Noyes Museum makes the perfect stop for out-of-state visitors or New Jersey residents who are inspired by art and culture.
The Museum’s permanent collections, educational programs, and changing exhibitions serve as a local and national resource for schools, colleges, social and civic organizations and for individuals who are interested in expanding their understanding, appreciation, and knowledge of American culture through its fine and folk arts and crafts.
Each year, the Museum hosts an eclectic lineup of exhibitions, public programs and gallery lectures designed to appeal to a wide audience. The Museum’s children’s programming ranges from hands-on creative art classes and special appearances by children’s book authors and illustrators to concerts and seasonal festivals.
Established in 1983 by entrepreneurs Fred and Ethel Noyes, the founders of The Towne of Historic Smithville, a once dilapidated 1787 stagecoach stop transformed into a regional tourist attraction—The Noyes Museum today houses a portion of the Noyes’ massive collection of working decoys (originally over 3,500) and examples of fine art. In addition, it showcases contemporary and traditional folk art forms, including works by artists Daniel Garber, Dale Chihuly, Marcia Wilson, Malcah Zeldis, Minnie Evans, Albert Hoffman and Victor Joseph Gatto.
In envisioning their museum, the Noyeses hoped to foster greater public awareness and appreciation of the American arts and crafts movement and to emphasize works created by New Jersey artists, past and present. They saw the tradition of American decoy carving as a natural part of this artistic heritage. This vision largely originated from Fred Noyes’ interests which centered around his personal training as an artist at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the famed Barnes Foundation, and predilection for duck decoys, which he had begun collecting at an early age.
Opened in 1983, The Noyes Museum of Art was the vision of local entrepreneurs Fred W. and Ethel (Lingelbach) Noyes, Jr. who were avid art and antique collectors. Fred was also an academically trained artist and produced many works that reflect his love of southern New Jersey's natural features. His art and personal collection of vintage bird decoys are part of the Museum’s vast collection of 19th to 21st century fine and folk art. Today, The Noyes Museum maintains our founders’ dedication to preserving, highlighting, interpreting, and celebrating the arts through dynamic locations in South Jersey.
The Museum's Building Design Analysis
The architectural character of the museum was determined by the patron’s desire for a contemporary building incorporating essential features of regional frame structures from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Its form, scale, materials and detailing represent a blending of the contemporary with early rural architecture. The building’s construction and finish materials reinforce the contemporary blend with regional materials. Exterior horizontal siding and trim are native white cedar stained a weathered gray. The steeply sloped roofs are sheathed in wood shingles. Heavy roof framing timbers are exposed to recall barn construction. The site slopes down to a fresh water lake. Upon entering the building, one sees the lake through the glass end wall of the central gallery. The spaces between the galleries are landscaped courts seen through glass portions of the central gallery side walls. Energy concerns and the desire for natural lighting were important influences on the design. Skylights are positioned so that no direct sunlight strikes any display area. The building contains four gallery wings and a central circulation gallery with 9,000 square feet.
- Paul M. Cope, Jr., AIA Cope Lippincott Slifer
The Noyes Museum of Art location at 733 Lily Lake Road, Oceanville, NJ 08231 is closed due to building issues.
Please visit our other locations.