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National Academy of Design
National Academy of Design Logo.png
National Academy of Design (48059131596).jpg
Previous building
Formation 1863; 160 years ago (1863)
Type Honorary organization, museum, and school
Purpose To promote the fine arts in America through instruction and exhibition
Headquarters Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
  • 14-15 Gramercy Park South
Wendy Evans Joseph, NA

The National Academy of Design is an honorary association of American artists, founded in New York City in 1825 by Samuel Morse, Asher Durand, Thomas Cole, Martin E. Thompson, Charles Cushing Wright, Ithiel Town, and others "to promote the fine arts in America through instruction and exhibition." Membership is limited to 450 American artists and architects, who are elected by their peers on the basis of recognized excellence.


18970403.NYC.Academy of Design (1865; razed)
National Academy of Design, one of many Gothic Revival buildings modeled on the Doge's Palace in Venice, seen c. 1863–1865. This building was demolished in 1901.

The original founders of the National Academy of Design were students of the American Academy of the Fine Arts. However, by 1825 the students of the American Academy felt a lack of support for teaching from the academy, its board composed of merchants, lawyers, and physicians, and from its unsympathetic president, the painter John Trumbull.

Samuel Morse and other students set about forming "the drawing association", to meet several times each week for the study of the art of design. Still, the association was viewed as a dependent organization of the American Academy, from which they felt neglected. An attempt was made to reconcile differences and maintain a single academy by appointing six of the artists from the association as directors of the American Academy. When four of the nominees were not elected, however, the frustrated artists resolved to form a new academy and the National Academy of Design was born.

Morse had been a student at the Royal Academy in London and emulated its structure and goals for the National Academy of Design. The mission of the academy, from its foundation, was to "promote the fine arts in America through exhibition and education."

In 2015, the academy struggled with financial hardship. In the next few years, it closed its museum and art school, and created an endowment through the sale of its New York real estate holdings. Today, the academy advocates for the arts as a tool for education, celebrates the role of artists and architects in public life, and serves as a catalyst for cultural conversations that propel society forward.

According to the academy, its 450 National Academicians "are professional artists and architects who are elected to membership by their peers annually."

Official names

After three years and some tentative names, in 1828 the academy found its longstanding name "National Academy of Design", under which it was known to one and a half centuries. In 1997, newly appointed director Annette Blaugrund rebranded the institution as the "National Academy Museum and School of Fine Art", to reflect "a new spirit of integration incorporating the association of artists, museum, and school", and to avoid confusion with the now differently understood term "design". This change was reversed in 2017.

  • 1825 The New York Drawing Association
  • 1826 The National Academy of The Arts of Design
  • 1828 The National Academy of Design
  • 1997 The National Academy Museum and School of Fine Art
  • 2017 The National Academy of Design


The academy occupied several locations in Manhattan over the years. Notable among them was a building on Park Avenue and 23rd Street designed by architect P. B. Wight and built 1863–1865 in a Venetian Gothic style modeled on the Doge's Palace in Venice. Another location was at West 109th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. From 1906 to 1941, the academy occupied the American Fine Arts Society building at 215 West 57th Street.

From 1942 to 2019, the academy occupied a mansion on Fifth Avenue and Eighty-ninth Street, the former home of sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington and philanthropist Archer M. Huntington, who donated the house in 1940.

Currently, the National Academy of Design shares offices and galleries with the National Arts Club located inside the historic Samuel J. Tilden House, 14-15 Gramercy Park South.

Organization and activities

National Academy School of Fine Arts (48237025902)
The National Academy School of Fine Arts

The academy is a professional honorary organization, with a school and a museum.

One cannot apply for membership, which since 1994, after many changes in numbers, is limited to 450 American artists and architects. Instead, members are elected by their peers on the basis of recognized excellence. Full members of the National Academy are identified by the post-nominal "NA" (National Academician), associates by "ANA".

At the heart of the National Academy is their ever-growing collection. Academicians choose and contribute a work of their own creation, building upon the academy's distinguished legacy. Today, their permanent collection totals over 8,000 works and tells a singular history of American art and architecture as constructed by its creators. The Academy organizes major exhibitions and loans their works to leading institutions around the world, in addition to providing resources that foster scholarship across disciplines.

Notable instructors

Among the teaching staff were numerous artists, including Will Hicok Low, who taught from 1889 to 1892. Another was Charles Louis Hinton, whose long tenure started in 1901. The famous American poet William Cullen Bryant also gave lectures. Architect Alexander Jackson Davis taught at the academy. Painter Lemuel Wilmarth was the first full-time instructor. Silas Dustin was a curator.

Notable members

Brown Gray Durand 1850
A few members in 1850 (L to R): Henry Kirke Brown, Henry Peters Gray and founding member Asher Brown Durand.
Annual Reception at the National Academy of Design, New York
Annual Reception at the National Academy of Design, New York, 1868, a wood engraving from a sketch by W. S. L. Jewett.
  • Marina Abramović
  • Benjamin Abramowitz
  • James Henry Beard
  • Edwin Blashfield
  • William Jay Bolton
  • Lee Bontecou
  • Stanley Boxer
  • Walker O. Cain
  • John F. Carlson
  • Vija Celmins
  • William Merritt Chase
  • Frederic Edwin Church
  • Chuck Close
  • Thomas Cole
  • Colin Campbell Cooper
  • Leon Dabo
  • Cyrus Dallin
  • William Parsons Winchester Dana
  • Charles Harold Davis
  • Henry Golden Dearth
  • Jose de Creeft
  • Richard Diebenkorn
  • William Henry Drake
  • Thomas Eakins
  • Lydia Field Emmet
  • Herbert Ferber
  • Bruce Fowle
  • Helen Frankenthaler
  • Gilbert Franklin
  • Daniel Chester French
  • Frederick Carl Frieseke
  • Sonia Gechtoff
  • Frank Gehry
  • Paul Georges
  • Arthur Hill Gilbert
  • Aaron Goodelman
  • Hardie Gramatky
  • Horatio Greenough
  • Red Grooms
  • Armin Hansen
  • L. Birge Harrison
  • Edward Lamson Henry
  • Itshak Holtz
  • Winslow Homer
  • Cecil de Blaquiere Howard
  • George Inness
  • Jasper Johns
  • Frank Tenney Johnson
  • Lester Johnson
  • Wolf Kahn
  • Charles Keck
  • Ellsworth Kelly
  • Greta Kempton
  • Everett Raymond Kinstler
  • Chaim Koppelman
  • Leo Lentelli
  • Emanuel Leutze
  • Hayley Lever
  • Maya Lin
  • Frank Lobdell
  • Evelyn Beatrice Longman
  • Frederick William Macmonnies
  • Knox Martin
  • Jervis McEntee
  • Michael Mazur
  • Gari Melchers
  • Alme Meyvis
  • Raoul Middleman
  • F. Luis Mora
  • Henry Siddons Mowbray
  • John Mulvany
  • David Dalhoff Neal
  • Victor Nehlig
  • Eliot Noyes
  • Kate Orff
  • Tom Otterness
  • William Page
  • Philip Pearlstein
  • I. M. Pei
  • John Thomas Peele
  • Judy Pfaff
  • Renzo Piano
  • William Lamb Picknell
  • Albin Polasek
  • Alfred Easton Poor
  • John Portman
  • Alexander Phimister Proctor
  • Harvey Quaytman
  • Andrew Raftery
  • Robert Rauschenberg
  • Benjamin Franklin Reinhart
  • Paul Resika
  • Priscilla Roberts
  • Dorothea Rockburne
  • Norman Rockwell
  • Mario Romañach
  • Albert Pinkham Ryder
  • Robert Ryman
  • Augustus Saint-Gaudens
  • John Singer Sargent
  • Eugene Francis Savage
  • Emily Maria Scott
  • Richard Serra
  • Susan Louise Shatter
  • Lorraine Shemesh
  • Elliott Fitch Shepard
  • Rhoda Sherbell
  • Cindy Sherman
  • William Siegel
  • Hughie Lee-Smith
  • Nancy Spero
  • Frederic Dorr Steele
  • Theodore Clement Steele
  • Frank Stella
  • Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait
  • Katharine Lamb Tait
  • Jesse Talbot
  • Reuben Tam
  • Henry Ossawa Tanner
  • Edmund C. Tarbell
  • Louis Comfort Tiffany
  • Cy Twombly
  • Edward Charles Volkert
  • Robert Vonnoh
  • William Guy Wall
  • John Quincy Adams Ward
  • Harry Watrous
  • Carrie Mae Weems
  • Stow Wengenroth
  • Frederic Whitaker
  • Carleton Wiggins
  • Guy Carleton Wiggins
  • Anita Willets-Burnham
  • Frank Lloyd Wright
  • Jimmy Wright
  • Dorothy Weir Young
  • Milford Zornes
  • William Penn Morgan

See also

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Famous African-American Scientists:
Percy Lavon Julian
Katherine Johnson
George Washington Carver
Annie Easley
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