Visual Arts Center (VAC)


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Visual Arts Center

The building is nationally known architect Edward Larrabee Barnes’s sophisticated 1975 response to the McKim designed Walker Art Building (Bowdoin College Museum of Art) next door.

Art History

Visual Arts

Pierce Art Library

Fishbowl Exhibition Space

Visual Arts Center (VAC)

This building is home to the Art History and the Visual Art departments. The art library is located on the second floor (and has specacular views of the quad), and 24-hour studio space is on the third floor. The two long glass panels on the first floor are referred to as the “fishbowl,” and provide students with the opportunity to exhibit their artwork, whether it is sculpture, drawing, painting, etc.

The open space in the center of the building, was designed as to respect the integrity of the storied (historic) walkway from the handsome Maine Street perimeter gate to the Chapel (a class gift from the class of 1895), so that remains unbroken for Bowdoin alumni to have open access to the Chapel for weddings and other alumni events (a long-time bowdoin tradition).

On the lower level, Kresge Auditorium seats 300 for lectures, films, a diverse selection of performances, and student art exhibitions.


Both Art History and Visual Art faculty are actively engaged in both scholarly and creative work. Art historians publish regularly in their respective fields of interest. Studio faculty receive major awards and have exhibited their work in New York, Los Angeles, and abroad.

Both programs are ranked among the best of their kind in small liberal arts colleges. Majors are regularly admitted to graduate programs at highly competitive institutions and pursue careers in teaching, museum work, conservation, fine arts, architecture and design.

Printmaking studio is in Burnett House (across Maine Street). A photography lab, architecture studio, and advanced painting studios are located in the McLellan Building, a recently built facility on Union Street.

"The Visual Arts Center matches the Walker Art Building's size but offers a Modernist reply to McKim's entrance stairs and to the terrace on which he placed his building."

  - Lawrence Biemiller in The Chronicle of Higher Education

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