Museum of Art exterior In 1886, an economic boom sparked by the discovery of natural gas in Muncie, Indiana, attracted an array of residents to the area. Hoping to raise interest in art, a group of women formed the Art Students' League in 1892. After the success of multiple art exhibits, the group formed the Muncie Art Association in 1905. The group's objectives included organizing annual free exhibitions and purchasing one work of art each year to begin a permanent collection.

The works in the permanent collection were displayed in local high school corridors until 1918, when the Indiana State Normal School, Eastern Division opened, thanks to the philanthropy of the Ball brothers. The collection found a new home at the school, which later became Ball State Teachers College and is now Ball State University. Eventually the collection was moved to the school's North Quadrangle Library.

Timeline

  • 1892—Museum Art Students League forms
  • 1905—Muncie Art Association forms
  • 1918—Collection moves to newly formed Indiana State Normal School, Eastern Division
  • 1935—Fine Arts Building opens
  • 1991—Gallery’s name changes to Ball State University Museum of Art
  • 2002—Renovated museum reopens
  • 2011—Name changes to David Owsley Museum of Art
  • 2013—Museum renovated with about 50 percent more gallery space.

In 1931, plans began for a new art building to house the expanding collection. The Fine Arts Building opened in 1935 and remains the home of the collection. In January 1991, the gallery's official name became the Ball State University Museum of Art. 

Construction to expand the museum began in 2000. The $8.5 million project added 5,230 square feet to the facility and doubled the number of works of art displayed. The newly renovated museum opened in September 2002.

The museum was renamed the David Owsley Museum of Art on Oct. 6, 2011, in honor of his generous gifts. In 2013, the museum went through another multimillion-dollar renovation, increasing its gallery space by almost 50 percent.