The Jewett Arts Center (1958) is an important early work by the distinguished American architect Paul Rudolph.
The Center consists of the Mary Cooper Jewett Art Wing and the Margaret Weyerhaeuser Jewett Music Wing. Located in the east section of the building, the Music Wing holds the Music Library, Sound Lab, listening rooms, practice studios, classrooms, departmental offices, and a collection of musical instruments from various periods available for students use. The Art Wing consists of classrooms, studios, photography darkrooms, video and computer facilities, the Art Library, and a gallery for student work.
In the college’s early years, Wellesley led the way in developing arts curriculums in a college setting. In 1889, at the time of the opening of the Farnsworth Art Building, Wellesley became the first college in the country to offer a major in the history of art. In 1927, the college was the first to offer a course in modern art.
As the college grew, so did its programs in the visual and performing arts, and close attention was paid to providing proper facilities to Wellesley students. By the mid-twentieth century, despite the college’s affection for the Farnsworth building, the need for a larger and integrated center for the arts at Wellesley was apparent. Thanks to the generosity of the Jewett family, construction on an arts center under the direction of architect Paul Rudolph was completed in 1958. The building, with galleries for the college’s sculpture and painting collections at its center and art and music departments to either side, took a prominent place on the academic quad, reflective of its place in Wellesley’s curriculum. As best stated by Mrs. Jewett herself on the opening of the building, “The importance of this occasion is not the dedication of these buildings but the inauguration of a new era in the teaching of arts at Wellesley which these buildings are making possible.”
Jewett Arts Center currently contains Wellesley’s Music Library, a collection of 50,000 books, music scores, recordings and periodicals, 22 practice studios, classrooms, listening rooms, and Wellesley’s 63,000 volume art and architecture library. At its center is Jewett Art Gallery, no longer the home of Wellesley’s art collection but instead a venue for student artworks and faculty exhibits designed for teaching.