mission

The Victor D’Amico Institute of Art aims to motivate, inspire, and enrich individuals of all ages at two sites: The Art Barge and  the Mabel and Victor D’Amico Studio and Archive.   
Our programs and exhibits preserve, promote and interpret Mabel and Victor D’Amico’s innovative approach to art education and their belief that, “Art is a  human necessity and should be part of everyone’s life experiences…creating with the mind, spirit and hand makes for a more profound  understanding of the world”. 

The Victor D’Amico Institute of Art comprises two sites that complement one another and serve, individually and collectively, to further the mission of preserving and promoting Mabel and Victor D’Amico’s legacy and pedagogy, asserting and upholding their place in the history of modern art and art education.  It has been a centerpiece of art education on the South Fork of Long Island since the creation of  The Art Barge in 1960.

In 2021 the organization is accepted as a member of Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios, a coalition of museums that were the homes and working studios of American artists. Designated local historical landmarks in 2019, the unique buildings at two extraordinary waterfront locations serve the public to foster learning and understanding through experiencing and making art, with the belief that a creative education helps individuals develop identity, community, and purpose in order to achieve a richer way of life and make a more meaningful contribution to society.

Victor D’Amico was the founding director of Education at The Museum of Modern Art from 1937 to 1969. He and his wife Mabel Birckhead D’Amico, also a progressive artist-teacher, built a home in Amagansett in the 1940s and Victor initiated MoMA-sponsored art classes beginning in 1955 at Ashawagh Hall in the Springs, East Hampton. Desiring to create a unique art center, Victor enlisted the help of local fishermen to bring a retired World War II Navy barge from New Jersey and beach it on the pristine shoreline of Amagansett’s Napeague Harbor.

The Art Barge

The Art Barge has hosted classes since its creation in 1960 based on the progressive teaching philosophy and methodologies advanced by Mabel and Victor. The sensitive, individualized approach of the instructors teaching classes in a variety of mediums coupled with the magnificent natural setting and singular architecture motivates students to flourish creatively.   Each summer, the studios welcome students of all ages, backgrounds and ability to discover and develop their power to create.

The D’Amico Studio and Archive

The Mabel and Victor D’Amico Studio and Archive features the former home of Mabel and Victor, which is a testament to their modernist and pioneering roots. Situated across the harbor from The Art Barge in Lazy Point, the early-modern beach house designed and built by the couple starting in 1940 holds the original contents, such as mid-century furnishings that include pieces designed by them, together with over 500 original artworks by Mabel, including early paintings, found-object constructions, jewelry and clothing. It also preserves a vast archive of photos, documents, books and ephemera pertaining to Mabel and Victor D’Amico’s innovative work in art education.