About the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art

The Wellin Museum of Art


Opened in 2012, the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art combines advances in interdisciplinary approaches with object-based learning. It features a large visible archive and open storage, allowing for unprecedented access to a collection of cross-cultural art and artifacts that span millennia. The Museum serves students, faculty, and the broader community, encouraging observation, exploration, and engagement. It mirrors the liberal arts experience by presenting exhibitions that have touchstones with a wide range of disciplines and inspire a dialogue about arts and culture that is global in its scope.


The Wellin Museum of Art is located in Clinton, NY, about a four-hour drive from New York City, on the Hamilton College campus.

Visiting the Wellin

The Wellin is open to the public from September through June, and closes during July and August. For hours and directions, please click HERE

The Building

The 30,537-square-foot museum was designed by Machado and Silvetti Associates. The Museum’s Archive Hall features 27-foot-high glass cases that serve as visible storage for a selection of the Wellin’s permanent collection. The Dietrich Exhibition Gallery, a 6,200-square-foot, versatile gallery space hosts two major exhibitions each academic year, and provides space for frequently rotating exhibitions. In addition to the Dietrich Exhibition Gallery and Archive Hall, the Museum offers visitors access to two and three dimensional works from the permanent collection in the Object Study Gallery, two seminar rooms which can be reserved for classes and scholarly visits to interact directly with objects pulled from the collection, and the Material Perseveration Laboratory, a glass enclosed visible preparatory space where works are staged for exhibitions, framing and conservation.  A second-floor lounge area for student gatherings overlooks the Selch Museum Terrace, an exterior space utilized for public programs during the fall and summer months.


The Museum is named in memory of Ruth and Elmer Wellin, parents of Keith Wellin, class of 1950, who, along with his devoted wife Wendy, provided leadership funding for the building. Their gift honors a family passion for art. Elmer, who supported himself through school as an artist, returned to painting later in life and opened an art gallery in Chicago.


Tracy L. Adler is the Founding Johnson-Pote Director of the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art, Hamilton College, which opened to the public in October 2012 under her leadership. Prior to her directorship at the Wellin, she was the principal at Adler Arts and the curator of the Hunter College Art Galleries in New York City. 

At the Wellin Museum of Art, Adler has curated several major exhibitions with accompanying publications including Dannielle Tegeder: Painting in the Extended Field (2013), A Sense of Place (2013), Alyson Shotz: Force of Nature (2014-15), Yun-Fei Ji: The Intimate Universe (2016), and Julia Jacquette: Unrequited and Acts of Play (2017). Her upcoming curatorial effort Jeffrey Gibson: This Is the Day will be on view at the Wellin from September 8 – December 9, 2018 and travel to the Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas, Austin. In 2017, she was awarded first prize by the Association of Art Museum Curators for the publication accompanying the exhibition Yun-Fei Ji: The Intimate Universe.



The Wellin presents two or more major exhibitions per year, including group shows and surveys dedicated to a single artist. The Wellin presents work by artists at various stages in their careers with an emphasis on mid-career artists, supporting the growth and expansion of their practice to develop work in new directions. The Museum works closely with artists for years leading up to their exhibitions, and supports original projects that push each artist’s practice. For example, the Wellin’s upcoming Julia Jacquette survey includes two new, site-specific murals commissioned by the Wellin that will be painted by the artist with the assistance of Hamilton students.

Recent and current exhibitions at the Wellin include the only U.S. survey to date of Beijing-born artist Yun-Fei Ji, which included a new three-panel scroll painting commissioned by the Wellin, and Senses of Time: Video and Film-Based Works of Africa—an exhibition co-organized by LACMA, the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, and the Wellin. Upcoming exhibitions in 2017 include the first major museum retrospective of New York-based artist Julia Jacquette (on view February 18 — July 2, 2017). The show comprises paintings, two site-specific murals, gouaches, ceramics, and the artist’s graphic memoir that she began in 2010 entitled “Playground of My Mind,” which will be co-published by the Wellin and Delmonico Books/Prestel. A Jacquette monograph will be published in fall 2017,


The permanent collection of the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art includes over 6,000 works of art and artifacts, representing a broad range of cultures, historical periods, and artistic practices and movements including Greek and Roman antiquities; Native American vessels and objects of material culture; drawings and watercolors from the Beinecke Collection of the Lesser Antilles; American, European (particularly British modernist), and Asian paintings, prints, photographs, drawings, and sculpture. The collection continues to grow with an emphasis on contemporary art and historical works that deepen and strengthen its existing holdings and support the academic mission of the college. Artworks that echo the interdisciplinary qualities of a liberal arts education are particularly useful for curricular engagement.

New Acquisitions

The Wellin has recently acquired such significant contemporary works as Jeffrey Gibson’s sculpture A Very Easy Death (2015), Yun-Fei Ji’s drawing The Vendors and the Wind (2014), Firelei Baez’s paper work Amidst the future and present there is a memory table (2013), Elias Sime’s mixed media work Tightrope, Familiar Yet Complex (2016), and Julia Jacquette’s painting Water (2010). Other new acquisitions include works on paper by Lorna Simpson, LaToya Ruby Frazier, and Elizabeth Catlett; a group of Song Dynasty ceramics; and a large selection of twentieth century American photographs by artists such as Danny Lyon, Leonard Freed, and Arthur Rothstein.

Teaching Museum

As a teaching museum, the Wellin presents exhibitions that complement Hamilton College’s interdisciplinary and liberal arts curriculum. Hamilton students engage with the Museum through a variety of programs and work opportunities as docents, interns and fellows in different areas of the Museum. Faculty members are encouraged to integrate the collection and exhibitions into their curriculum in partnership with the Museum staff. The Wellin is also proud to serve as a resource for the broader community, offering artist lectures, customized tours, educator workshops, in-school teaching, and creative events for children and K-12 students.


In tandem with the Museum’s exhibitions, the Wellin produces high-quality publications and artist monographs, providing key additional resources to students and general audiences. The books are co-published by DelMonico Books/Prestel, a division of Random House. Recent publications include a fully-illustrated book to accompany the Wellin’s 2016 spring exhibition, Pure Pulp: Contemporary Artists Working in Paper at Dieu Donné, and a monograph for Yun-Fei Ji’s solo exhibition Yun-Fei Ji: The Intimate Universe. Upcoming publications include a monograph on the work of Julia Jacquette timed to her major survey at the Wellin, as well as Jacquette’s graphic memoir “Playground of My Mind,” which will be available when the show opens in February 2017.