The Parrish Art Museum: A Primer

Parrish Art Museum

Inspired by the natural setting and artistic life of Long Island's East End

The Building
Designed by the internationally acclaimed firm Herzog & de Meuron, the Parrish Art Museum occupies a fourteen-acre site in the hamlet of Water Mill, New York. The innovative design integrates architecture and landscape in a plan that both respects and reflects the singular natural beauty and rich artistic legacy of Long Island’s East End. The architects were inspired not only by the landscape but also by the many artists’ studios they visited on the East End. Sited to take advantage of natural north light, the building contains 12,200 square feet of pristine, sky-lit gallery space. Of these, 4,600 square feet are available for presenting special exhibitions, while 7,600 square feet are dedicated to installations of the Museum’s permanent collection, which features more than 3,000 works ranging from the nineteenth century to the present.
William Merritt Chase
The Parrish holds the largest public collection of William Merritt Chase (over 40 paintings and works on paper) and an extensive archive, including more than 1,000 photographs relating to the life and work of the artist, in particular family photographs of summers spent on the East End.  William Merritt Chase was an American painter known as an exponent of Impressionism and also responsible for establishing the Chase School, which later would become Parsons New School for Design. He first came to paint in the Shinnecock Hills in 1891. He was invited by Janet Hoyt, who proposed opening a summer art academy based on the plein-air schools then popular in Europe, a strategy she devised to enhance the importance of Southampton as a summer resort. 

William Merritt Chase and his family spent summers in Shinnecock Hills, Southampton, from 1892 to 1905. As part of his employment at the Shinnecock Hills Summer School of Art, Chase was provided with a home designed by the firm of McKim, Mead, and White. These years are recorded in works Chase painted of the sandy hills covered with pitch pine and bayberry. The vivid images mirror the beginnings of the East End as an art colony and its rise as a Gilded Age resort.

The house is a key element in the Bayberry Bush painting.

Chase usually featured people prominently in his landscapes, these being his daughters, often depicting them playing together, on the beach, or lying in the summer grass at Shinnecock.
The Shinnecock works in particular have come to be thought of by art historians as particularly fine examples of American Impressionism.

Past and Present
The Museum’s holdings now consist of more than 3,000 works ranging from early nineteenth-century landscape paintings through American Impressionism and into the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries. In addition to those names above, it includes such important artists as Childe Hassam, John Sloan, James Whistler, Dan Flavin, and John Chamberlain, as well as such members of  the dynamic contemporary art scene as Ross Bleckner, Chuck Close, Elizabeth Peyton, Jack Youngerman, and Joe Zucker.
The East End
The Museum fosters connections among individuals, art, and artists of the East End through care and interpretation of the collection, the presentation of exhibitions, publications, educational initiatives, programs, and artists-in-residence.
Biennial Exhibition: Artists Choose Artists
Artists Choose Artists is the Parrish Art Museum’s juried exhibition open to artists working in all media and living on the East End of Long Island. Seven distinguished artists serve as jurors, each selecting two artists for the exhibition, which also includes the work of the jurors. Artists Choose Artists encourages fellowship among today's expanded, multi-generational network of artists and demonstrates the diversity of contemporary creative practice.
Annual Student Exhibition
The annual Student Exhibition, a 60-year tradition at the Parrish, features the work of more than 1,000 young artists from schools on Eastern Long Island. Working with their art teachers and through art clubs, the students demonstrate creativity, enthusiasm, and technical skill in diverse media, ranging from painting to sculpture, drawing and photography. The exhibition includes work created by students in Artist-in-Residence workshops, including artists Suzanne Anker, Anne Bae, Monica Banks, Ben Butler, and Saskia Friedrich. In addition to the nearly 300 works by students under the direction of their art teachers in 38 public, private, and home schools, the exhibition features group and individual works by 350 students who participated in hands-on workshops to create original art work based on unique approaches to art making. In their creative practice, each of these artists explores intersections between the visual arts and nature in ways that deepened students’ understanding of the world around them. Several of the artists investigate non-art disciplines including biology, geology, and mathematics.
East End Stories
East End Stories documents the dynamic history of visual artists on the East End of Long Island and provides access to biographical information, art historical narratives, photographs, and maps that enable visitors to explore the lives of hundreds of artists who have lived on or visited Long Island from the 1820s to the present. This project was made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Visit East End Stories at

April Gornik’s oil paintings and charcoal drawings of mountains, prairies, and waterways are populated by trees and boulders, bushes and brush. Above all, as she puts it, “light is the prime mover.”

For more information, please visit:

East End Stories can be found at

279 Montauk Highway Water Mill, NY 11976
T 631-283-2118

Credits: Story

The Museum’s exhibitions and programs are made possible in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and by the property taxpayers from the Southampton Union Free School District and the Tuckahoe Common School District.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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