Field Trip Friday: Wadsworth Atheneum

Wadsworth Atheneum

A few weeks ago intern Kathleen drove up to Hartford, CT to stop by the Wadsworth Atheneum. The Wadsworth is America’s oldest public art museum, founded in 1842 by Daniel Wadsworth. A fan of Gothic revival, Wadsworth commissioned Alexander Davis and Ithiel Town to draw inspiration from Hartford’s Christ Church for the museum’s exterior design. As the museum’s collection grew, four extensions were added–Morgan (1910), Avery (1934), and Goodwin (1969) buidlings.  SmithEdwards Architects is currently overseeing the $16 million restoration and renovations of the museum.

Ancient graveyard, Center Church (1632) and the Gold Building (Neuhaus & Taylor 1974) in Hartford

The museum is located in the heart of downtown Hartford, across from Center Church (next to the Ancient Burial Ground) and the Gold Building. Until renovations are complete, the majority of the museum’s 55,000 pieces will be on loan or securely stored away (see the museum’s online database). You can, however, still see Sol LeWitt‘s Whirls and Twirls mural–as well as a selection of the museum’s famous collection of Hudson River School paintings.

Sol LeWitt's Whirls and Twirls (2004) in the Morgan Great Hall stairway

The American Sculpture and Painting Gallery

Pioneering collections of Hudson River school artists and the first American museum to purchase a Surrealist painting (and works by Caravaggio, Frederic Church, Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Piet Mondrian, Balthus, Joseph Cornell and others) the museum continues to push the boundaries with contemporary artworks and exhibits such as it’s ongoing MATRIX program. Currently, the museum is featuring a two-part exhibit by Kim Schoenstadt consisting of the wall drawing Odd Lots Series: Hartford/Fiction, and Can Control: Hartford a community inspired graffiti-based work.

The museum will continue to remain open with renovations expected to be complete by the end of 2011.

Wadsworth Atheneum
600 Main Street, Hartford, CT 06103

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