MAG History

Founded in 1913 by Emily Sibley Watson, the Memorial Art Gallery has played a central role in Rochester’s cultural life for more than 100 years. Learn more about MAG’s history in the following pages and timelines.

The Memorial Art Gallery—and How It Grew


Listen in with Margie Searl as she speaks on “Women, War, and Watsons: A Look at MAG’s First Decade” at the Spring Director’s Circle lecture via Zoom. This was originally presented on on 6/16/2020.

We tend to look through rose-colored glasses at the early years of MAG — 1913, a splendid building, the gift of a generous patron, the beginnings of a renowned collection of art, and the response of a truly grateful community.


More MAG and Rochester history
Through the timelines below, explore the stories of the Gallery, art, and artists in the Greater Rochester Area from the first explorers and settlers to the present day. We would like to thank all those who worked on this timeline. Acknowledgments