Massachusetts College of Art and Design is the oldest art school in Boston, but its library is even older than the college itself.

In 1871 the Massachusetts Board of Education created a "traveling museum." Plaster casts, drawings, paintings, and art books were transported by horse-drawn wagons to towns across the state. The purpose was to spread art knowledge throughout the citizenry. It was the first collection of visual reference materials in the United States created to support public art education.

The rigors of travel damaged the collection. Within a year the need for its safe storage became an arguing point for founding a state art school. Although we can’t be certain if this was a deciding factor, in 1873 the legislature did create Massachusetts Normal Art School (now called Massachusetts College of Art and Design), and the traveling collection did indeed come to rest under its roof.

As MassArt developed, and the field of art education evolved, the collectionalso grew and developed:  more books were acquired, and then journals, slides, films, videos, and digital images. In 1988, the library was named for the late Morton R. Godine, a Vice President and Trustee of the college. This exhibit celebrates the library’s 133 years of democratizing access to art and design information. Unlike the treasures in some libraries, the Godine’s most valuable books and portfolios are worn and spattered. They’re used heavily to support research conducted with paint, clay, wood, plaster, furnaces, and kilns, as well as with pencils, paper, and keyboards.