Museums & Galleries, All Towns

Big names in a small setting await visitors to the Addison Gallery at Phillips Academy in Andover

TOWN:All Towns
WHAT:An art museum with an impressive American Art collection
WHY:An uncrowded museum experience on one of the loveliest school campuses in New England

Part of the fun in exploring Boston’s North Shore is finding destinations that feed your appetite for discovery. The campus of the prestigious prep school, Phillips Academy in Andover, includes the small but ambitious Addison Gallery of American Art that has been surprising and delighting visitors since 1931.

On a recent visit we arrived to find that a photography exhibit had just opened. It featured 1950s images from two giants of mid-century American photography, Robert Frank and Todd Webb. The show cleverly juxtaposed photos taken on cross-country trips by both masters at roughly the same time. On display were journals and notes about their experiences and discoveries while on the road.

In another gallery, the Addison featured American paintings from the core collection of American art. We were dazzled by unfamiliar and at times uncharacteristic works from Sargent, Homer, Eakins and Whistler, among others. 

While not as large as the Peabody Essex Museum, the Addison Gallery rewards visitors with a pleasant opportunity to enjoy world-class art in recently renovated galleries and an uncrowded setting. 

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE: After your visit, a peek behind the museum will reveal Philips Academy’s Montcrieff Cochran Sanctuary. It offers an opportunity for a pleasant walk along its wide gravel paths. Choose the blue trail for a 2-mile stroll or follow the map at the entrance to criss-cross the sanctuary for a shorter walk. If you time it right, hundreds of rhododendrons may be in bloom!