The Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT is located at 600 Main Street in the downtown area of this state capital city. It is the oldest public museum of art in the United States. It was founded in 1842, opening two years later.
The museum bears the name of Daniel Wadsworth, while also honoring the Greek Goddess of Wisdom, Athena.
The Atheneum opened in 1844 with Wadsworth's own collection and also hosted the Connecticut Historical Society and an institute that would later evolve into the Hartford Public Library. Other Hartford moneyed families soon follow Wadsworth's example and bequeathed their collections to the museum's galleries.
Throughout its history, it has often been a pioneer in both its acquisitions and its exhibitions. In 1931, it hosted the first show of Surrealist artwork in the US.
At least 15 special shows a year continue to be hosted by this museum.
The permanent collection at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT, is composed of more than 45,000 works. It is divided into 6 categories.
The European art collection spans 600 years of work. It chronologically begins with pieces from Medieval Europe. There are works by some of the early Italian masters, works from the Renaissance and Baroque periods as well. The great 19th Century painters including Cezanne, Van Gogh and Monet are represented, as well as 20th Century artists like Dali, Picasso, Magritte and Mir.
The American Decorative Art section contains a good deal of furniture and crafts of New England and the US, although a variety of other objects like pottery, porcelain and even weaponry are found here.
Some 400 artists' work fills the American Painting and Sculpture collection. The earliest work dates from the 1660s.
The Contemporary Art exhibit includes controversial multi media work. Since 1844, when the museum opened, it has maintained a tradition of exhibiting current artists.
Costumes and Textiles from around the world and throughout history make up another part of the collection. Lastly the European Decorative Arts display commemorates diverse craftsmanship styles throughout history.
The Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT museum, also hosts a variety of educational programs and activities for adults and children as well as performances and films on different themes of interest.
Children under 12 are admitted for free. There are several days a year when all visitors enter free.
The museum is closed weekly on Monday and Tuesday as well as on Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Days. It closes early (3PM) the day before Thanksgiving.
Wednesday - Friday the hours are from 11AM to 5PM although on the first Thursday of each month, the museum remains open until 8PM. On weekends it is open from 10 AM until 5PM.
Tours are held with many of the special exhibitions. There are also regular museum highlight tours and educational tours held by the museum several days a week.
There is a verbal imaging program at the museum to assist the visually impaired which requires a 3 week advance notice to reserve its use.