Our History

The Institute of Art and Design at New England College was founded in 1898 as the Manchester Institute of Arts and Sciences with the goal of cultivating an appreciation of the arts through progressive, educational instruction.  In 1924, the NH Board of Education certified our four-year program to prepare high school graduates to teach art.

Gaining Qualifications

In 1997, the New Hampshire Post-secondary Commission authorized the Institute to award the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree.  At that time, the Institute became the New Hampshire Institute of Art (NHIA).  In 2001, the college received accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.  In 2011, we received accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Growth and Expansion

In the late 1990s, the college was the beneficiary of a $26 million bequest from the estate of Mary Fuller Russell.  This allowed the institute to establish an endowment and embark upon a series of expansions that revolutionized our campus.

  • 2001: With the opening of Fuller Hall, the Institute doubles the size of our urban campus, dramatically increasing the quantity and quality of classes offered.
  • 2004: The Institute teams up with the Greater Manchester YMCA to offer the first residential space for BFA students at Institute Hall. 
  • 2005: The Institute acquires the Hampshire House residence hall and the 77 Amherst Street building, which enabled us to increase studio space by 80 percent. 
  • 2007: The Institute purchases the 153 Concord St. building for senior studio space and opens the newly renovated Plaza residence hall. 
  • 2009: The Institute opens its first green technology building, the Lowell Street building, offering additional classroom, office, and residential space. 
  • 2011: The Institute opens a food service program in the same building as the Plaza residences. 
  • 2012: Chester College of New England, a small liberal arts college, closes. Over 80 percent of its student body and several full-time faculty members transfer to the Institute.
  • 2013: The Institute merges with the historic Sharon Arts Center, a hub for community arts education based in Peterborough and Sharon, NH. This sparks the introduction of our low-residency MFA programs. 
  • 2019 The Institute merges with New England College and changes their name to the Institute of Art and Design at New England College.

Looking Forward

NHIA has officially merged with New England College (NEC) and rebranded as the Institute of Art and Design (the Institute) at NEC. The Institute will continue to offer BFA, MFA, MAT and Community Education programs but students now have the opportunity to take advantage of all the programs, clubs, teams, and more at NEC's campus in Henniker, NH.


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