Presenting exceptional works of art since 1970 from the collection, many on view for the first time, this exhibition highlights art’s purposes as tools for observation, inquiry, and learning in a Liberal Arts context.

Art can be considered a process rather than a product. At Bowdoin College, art objects catalyze academic inquiry and generate opportunities for interdisciplinary learning. Through art, students and faculty engage with thoughts, perceptions, and vocabularies that inform their own. As artists establish starting points for their own creativity, they, too, study others’ works, whether in museum collections or elsewhere. They set an example for all who observe, research, interpret, innovate, and communicate—that is, anyone learning about and practicing the Liberal Arts.

New installations of the Museum’s collection throughout the Walker Art Building, which turns 125 this year, invite you to get involved. Many works on view, including recent acquisitions that are publicly presented for the first time, are accompanied by interpretations by members of the extended Bowdoin community—scholars, writers, and curators from near and far. Collaboratively, they expand knowledge by exploring new perspectives, tracing forgotten histories, and sharing ideas.

The galleries in the exhibition survey the Museum’s contemporary art collection with selections from the United States and around the globe. They explore themes of “Making,” “Exhibiting,” “Collecting,” “Observing,” and “Representing.” Together, they fulfill and elucidate the stipulation set in brass letters in the floor of the Walker Art Building’s former entrance rotunda: “To Be Used Solely for Art Purposes.”