The American Watercolor Society began in 1866 when a group of eleven painters met at the studio of Gilbert Burling in the New York University Building to form â€œThe American Painters in Water Color.â€
Fellow artist Samuel Colman was elected the first president. Catherine Altvater was the first woman to hold an elected office in the Society. The newly formed society held its first exhibition in the fall of 1867, and these annual exhibitions have continued to the present time. In 1878, the name was changed to its current one, and was incorporated in 1903.
Active members number approximately 500, with approximately 2,000 associates. There is an annual juried exhibition open to anyone.