The Quincy Art Center began its life on January 23, 1923, when a group of local women created the Quincy Art Club, which proposed "to foster the aesthetic needs of Quincy and develop among her citizens an appreciation of Art in its broad and universal sense as applied to life." In its early years, the Club presented a number of exhibits and lectures to its growing public. The first exhibition was one of watercolors of Swiss and Italian scenes by the English artist J.R. Donne. In 1927, the Club elected Elizabeth M. Sinnock its president, a post she held until her death in 1975, some forty-eight years later.
In 1932, the Quincy Art Club leased from the Quincy Park District the carriage house behind the Lorenzo Bull mansion and established on that sight what was to become its permanent home. Designed in 1887 by Joseph Lyman Silsbee, a prominent Chicago architect, the carriage house made marvelous studio space in which artists could teach and work. At this time, the Clubs exhibitions were held in various local venues - the Lincoln-Douglas Hotel, the John Wood Mansion, the Free Library and Cheerful Home were some of them. Monthly exhibits provided local and area residents with a sampling of fine paintings, sculptures, and graphics; noted authorities presented lectures on the history of art, and educational programming was developed with artists-in-residence to fulfill a growing demand in the community.
In 1946-1947, the Art Club remodeled the interior of the Lorenzo Bull carriage house in order to create the Elizabeth M. Sinnock Gallery, an art moderne space designed by the late Charles F. Behrensmeyer. The newly renovated structure opened to the public on March 2,1947.
In 1969, thanks to a grant from the Quincy Foundation, the Art Club hired its first professional director, John Arthur. From 1973 to 1990, the Art Club was without a professional director and operated by a Board of Directors, volunteer committees, and office support staff. In 1991, Mariann Barnard became the professional director of the Quincy Art Center, (as it was by then called),replaced by Julie D. Nelson in 1994. Nelson retired in 2014 with the position given to our current Executive Director, Jennifer Teter.
In the mid-1980's the Art Club board took its boldest step yet and decided that the time had come to expand its facilities dramatically. After considerable study, it determined that a new gallery and classroom facility would be added to the old carriage house. The new addition, designed by the local firm of Architechnics, Inc., gave the Center more than twice its original exhibition space. The classroom areas are equipped for ceramics, printmaking and other art instruction for both the adults and children. Not only has the institution been able to address the interests of a wider segment of the community, the quality of the exhibits and programs has been substantially enhanced.
The Art Center is supported in part by membership fees, contributions, grants, and proceeds from fund-raising events, the most notable of which is the annual Beaux Arts Ball, initiated in 1930.