The centerpiece of the art collection is the Kirby Collection of Historical Paintings, which consists of American portraits, history paintings, and sculpture. Assembled by Allan P. Kirby ’15 with the assistance of his friend and New York art dealer, E. J. Rousuck, Kirby described his criterion: “It was intended to have broadly represented the many fields of achievement through which men can leave lasting impressions upon the nation.”
Many of the portraits can been seen in Kirby Hall of Civil Rights, built in 1929–30, given by Allan P. Kirby’s father, Fred Morgan Kirby, to house the Department of Government and Law. Of special note are Andrew Jackson by Rembrandt Peale, Thomas Jefferson at the Natural Bridge by Caleb Boyle, Grover Cleveland by Eastman Johnson, George Washington by Charles Willson Peale, and Gouverneur Morris by Thomas Sully. The Kirby Collection’s history paintings include Barbara Frietchie by Dennis Malone Carter and The Landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock by Peter Frederick Rothermel.