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Debussy’s Paris at the Smith College Museum of Art (Northampton Blog)

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Paris as Seen through Painting and Music

Debussy’s Paris, Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton

The Mozart Sonata (Berthe Morisot, 1894). Photo Courtesy of Smith College Museum of ArtWalk into the Smith College Museum of Art (SCMA) on any day of the week and you’re in for a treat. With exhibits changing on a regular basis, the museum is bound to have something on view for everyone, regardless of your taste in art.

In the main gallery now (through June 10) is Debussy’s Paris: Art, Music, and Sounds of the City. The exhibit features music by Claude Debussy (1862-1918) in addition to paintings and sounds that were part of Paris during his lifetime. The gallery is split into three different sections. There are four listening stations throughout these sections, one featuring Debussy’s music and the other three focusing on themes of the section.

Much of Debussy’s work was influenced the images and sounds he observed and a visitor to this exhibit is transported to Paris in the late 1880s. Paintings, sculptures and photographs adorn the walls with the listening stations scattered sporadically. One of the sections focuses on plays and live music performed in Paris, with posters, poems, and recordings of street sounds.

Artists featured, including Debussy, are Odilson Redon, Eugène Atget, Yvette Guilbert, Pierre Bonnard, Jules Chèret, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Georges Pierre Seurat, Leon Bakst, Jacques Villon, and, one of my personal favorites, Edgar Degas, who has both a painting and a sculpture on display.

SCMA is located on Elm Street in Northampton, Massachusetts. The Museum is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10am – 4pm and Sunday 12noon – 4pm. The second Friday of each month, hours are extended to 8pm, with 4–8pm. The exhibit is free to the public. For more information, call 413-585-2760 or visit

Halley Ofner is a Contributor to The Free George

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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