The original collection of European paintings, Old Master drawings, and family portraits given by James Bowdoin III and his family in 1811 and 1826 was housed in a sequence of different campus locations until the Walker Art Building was completed in 1894.
Included on the National Register of Historic Places, the structure was given to the College by Harriet and Sophia Walker in honor of their uncle Theophilus Walker, a Boston entrepreneur and businessman.
The Walker sisters were encyclopedic collectors and supporters of art education. They selected the renowned architect Charles Follen McKim, whose firm McKim, Mead and White also designed the Boston Public Library, The Morgan Library & Museum in New York, and the Brooklyn Museum, among many other important commissions.
The collections of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art range from the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean world to artwork created in the first years of the 21st century.