The Noyes Museum of Art:
An Historical Perspective
The Noyes Museum of Art (NMA), the only fine arts museum in southern New Jersey, is filled with treasures of American art, especially folk art and crafts. Located just fifteen minutes from Atlantic City and adjacent to the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, The Noyes Museum makes the perfect stop for out-of-state visitors or New Jersey residents who are inspired by art and culture and appreciate its beautiful natural setting.
The Museum’s permanent collections, educational programs, and changing exhibitions serve as a local and national resource for schools, colleges, social and civic organizations and for individuals who are interested in expanding their understanding, appreciation, and knowledge of American culture through its fine and folk arts and crafts.
Each year, the Museum hosts an eclectic lineup of exhibitions, public programs and gallery lectures designed to appeal to a wide audience. The NMA’s children’s programming ranges from hands-on creative art classes and special appearances by children’s book authors and illustrators to concerts and seasonal festivals.
Established in 1983 by entrepreneurs Fred and Ethel Noyes, the founders of The Towne of Historic Smithville, a once dilapidated 1787 stagecoach stop transformed into a Williamsburg-style tourist attraction—The Noyes Museum today houses a portion of the Noyes’ massive collection of working decoys (originally over 3,500) and examples of fine art. In addition, it showcases contemporary and traditional folk art forms, including works by artists Daniel Garber, Dale Chihuly, Marcia Wilson, Malcha Zeldis, Minnie Evans, Albert Hoffman and Victor Joseph Gatto.
In envisioning their museum, the Noyeses hoped to foster greater public awareness and appreciation of the American arts and crafts movement and to emphasize works created by New Jersey artists, past and present. They saw the tradition of American decoy carving as a natural part of this artistic heritage. This vision largely originated from Fred Noyes’ interests which centered around his personal training as an artist at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the famed Barnes Foundation, and predilection for duck decoys, which he had begun collecting at an early age.