The Museum holds the eclectic collections of George Walter Vincent Smith and his wife, Belle Townsley Smith, in an purpose-built Italian palazzo-style building established in 1896.
The vast holdings include excellent examples of Japanese lacquer, arms and armor, ceramics and bronzes; one of the largest collections of Chinese cloisonné outside of Asia; Chinese jade and ceramics; and a notable collection of 19th century Middle Eastern carpets. In addition, the collection contains significant American 19th century paintings (especially landscape and genre), Italian 19th century watercolors, fine examples of Greek and Roman antiquities, a rare plaster cast collection, objects created for 19th century International Expositions and examples of lace and early textiles.
Among the most celebrated features of the Museum are the original Tiffany stained glass windows. The windows are rare surviving examples of Tiffany work commissioned for a museum building.
The museum hosts various types of exhibitions, including art.