In 1944, representatives of art and design schools met in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art by invitation of Mr. Richard F. Bach, then the museum’s Dean of Education. Mr. Bach’s intention was to focus attention primarily upon the new field of industrial design through the schools that had or could develop design education programs. In his first letter to the schools, he referred to the occasion as a “conference of schools of design.” Because of the enthusiastic response of the schools, the meetings were continued on a conference basis until 1948. In that year, it was decided to establish a firm organizational structure and to use the meetings as opportunities to visit schools, as well as to exchange ideas and consider the broad problems of art and design education.

The organization thus formed was called the National Association of Schools of Design, with the following 22 schools as charter members: Auburn University, University of Alabama, Akron Art Institute, School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Carnegie Institute of Technology, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Cincinnati Art Academy, University of Cincinnati, Cleveland School of Art (now Cleveland Institute of Art), Cooper Union, University of Illinois (Urbana), Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design, Maryland Institute, Massachusetts School of Art, Minneapolis School of Art, Moore Institute of Art, Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art (now part of The University of the Arts), Pratt Institute, Rhode Island School of Design, Syracuse University, Washington University, and the School of Worcester Art Museum.

The name of the Association was changed in 1966 to the National Association of Schools of Art, and in 1981, to the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, to more accurately reflect the broad interests of the growing organization. The membership now consists of free-standing art and design schools, college and university art/design departments, and artists and designers from all regions of the United States. The Association has assumed increasing responsibility for the development of educational standards in art and design, and contributes to the spirit of mutual understanding and respect that exists among schools and departments of art and design throughout the country.

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