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Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

600 Main Street
Hartford, Connecticut

Phone: (860) 278-2670
TTY: (860) 278-0294.

Statement of Purpose:

Paintings: 19th century American, Spanish/Italian baroque, French Impressionits, 20th century masters. Early American furniture, porcelain, bronzes; Matrix Gallery of Contemporary Art.

Highlights & Collections:

The sheer quality and range of fine and decorative arts at the Wadsworth Atheneum place it among the dozen greatest art museums in the United States. Its world-renowned collections include Hudson River School landscapes, Old Master paintings, modernist masterpieces, 19th-century French and Impressionist paintings, Meissen and Sèvres porcelains, costumes and textiles, American furniture and decorative arts of the Pilgrim Century through the Gilded Age, and contemporary art.

Nationally recognized for its ambitious and imaginative special exhibitions program, the Wadsworth Atheneum presents more than fifteen special shows and installations each year. Many are inspired by masterworks in the museum’s holdings, while others are solo shows of contemporary artists.

The Wadsworth Atheneum is named for its founder, the arts patron and philanthropist Daniel Wadsworth (1771-1848), and after the Athenaeum in Rome (itself named for Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom). Established in 1842, the Wadsworth Atheneum is America’s oldest public art museum, preceding the founding of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston by three decades.

It was the first American museum to acquire works by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Frederic Church, Salvador Dalí, Joan Miro, Alexander Calder, Piet Mondrian, Joseph Cornell, and Max Ernst. As it has always done, the museum collects work by contemporary artists in a variety of media.




January 26 – May 26, 2002
From the earliest contacts between Africans and Europeans, hair has been a source of fascination, consternation, and jubilation. Hairitage explores the aesthetics, politics, and cultural legacy of hairstyles in African American culture through painting and sculpture, photography, advertising, and artifacts. Presented by The Amistad Foundation.


Impressionism to Surrealism from The Baltimore Museum of Art: Selections from the Collections of Claribel and Etta Cone, Saidie Adler May, and Blanche Adler
February 8 – April 21, 2002
During the first half of the 20th century, two pairs of sisters in Baltimore avidly collected modernist masterworks (in addition to art of earlier eras). The famous Cone sisters—Dr. Claribel (1864-1929) and Miss Etta (1870-1949)—acquired works by Renoir, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and many by Matisse, while the Adler sisters—Saidie Adler May (1879-1951) and Blanche Adler (1877-1941)—bought pieces by Degas, Leger, Kandinsky, Klee, Matta, and Pollock. Both the Cones and Adlers purchased works by Picasso and Masson, and both left their great collections to The Baltimore Museum of Art. This exhibition features more than 50 paintings and drawings spanning Impressionism to Surrealism.


UN Studio/MATRIX 146
February 16 – May 12, 2002
Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos of UN Studio, based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, are the design architects for the expansion and renovation of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. These gifted innovators are best known for the asymmetrical, swan-like Erasmus Bridge, which is to Rotterdam what the Brooklyn Bridge is to New York City; the Möbius House, a residence outside Utrecht that plays with the notions of inside and outside, day and night, and work and rest; and a massive urban infrastructure project currently under construction in Arnhem. Blending imagination with computer technology, UN Studio is creating "digital architecture" for the 21st century. MATRIX 146 is made possible by The Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation, Inc.


The Art of French Fashion
March 16 - August 18, 2002
Colonial America looked to France for sumptuous styles as well as silks and velvets, but the Revolu-tionary Wars in both countries interrupted the flow of French fashion. Nearly a century later, with the end of the American Civil War in 1867, the International Exhibition in Paris inspired a new wave of Franco mania. Wealthy Americans flocked to Paris for special occasion dresses, especially to the founder of French haute couture, Charles Frederick Worth. Gowns with labels from Doucet, Raudnitz, Pingat, Paquin, Lanvin, and Vionnet also guaranteed sartorial success. Highlights of this exhibition are a mid 18th-century French open robe and petticoat, a Worth turn of the century court presentation dress, and a 1928 wedding gown by Madeline Vionnet. Supported by the Costume and Textile Society and the Mary Pope Cheney Exhibition Fund.


Sam Durant/MATRIX 147
May 18 – September 1, 2002
Los Angeles-based artist Sam Durant is inspired by history, particularly the history of radical artistic practice seen within the context of social history. From conceptual art of the 1960s to Southern rock music and its origins, Durant transmutes elements of high and popular culture in a variety of media, including drawing, sculpture, architecture and film. MATRIX 147 marks Sam Durant’s first solo museum exhibition.


Matières de rêves: Stuff of Dreams from the Paris Musée des Arts Décoratifs
June 1 – August 11, 2002
Throughout the ages, exceptional objects have been created that exceed the requirements of utility, the conventions of tradition, and standards of craftsmanship. One hundred unique masterpieces of French design—silver, ivory, porcelain, jewelry, and furniture—dating from the Middle Ages to the present day are featured in Stuff of Dreams. Organized by the Portland Art Museum, Oregon, and The Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs: Musée des arts décoratifs, this exhibition opens in Portland, then travels to Hartford and to the Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama. Supported by The Florence Gould Foundation.


Fresh Faces
June 15, 2002 – January 19, 2003
Youth figure prominently in works by many 20th-century and contemporary African American artists. Augusta Savage, Laura Wheeling Waring, Hughie Lee-Smith, Alan Crite, Charles White, Coreen Simpson, and Dawoud Bey have portrayed children and teenagers with empathy, dignity, and wonderment. The shifting status and role of youth in American society and popular culture will be revealed in painting, sculpture, photography, and prints and drawings from the collections of The Amistad Foundation, the Wadsworth Atheneum, and private and public holdings. Presented by The Amistad Foundation.


Cloth of Kings
September 7, 2002 - February 9, 2003
Once reserved for royalty in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the luxurious and richly-hued plush fabric known as velvet remains as alluring as ever.


Michael Sweerts, 1624 – 1664
September 20 – December 1, 2002
Although less well known today than his contemporaries Johannes Vermeer and Pieter de Hooch, Michael Sweerts was one of the most original and famous painters working in Holland during the 17th century. This is the first exhibition of his paintings and prints in nearly 50 years—and the first ever in America. It consists of over forty of Sweerts’ finest works. These include his remarkably tender portraits of children; genre scenes of beggars, gamblers, and artists at work; and his series, The Seven Acts of Mercy, which will be reunited from collections around the world. The Rijksmuseum is organizing this exhibition in conjunction with the Wadsworth Atheneum, which acquired two paintings by Sweerts in the 1940s. The accompanying catalogue contains essays by the Rijksmuseum's curator Guido Jansen, the Atheneum's Eric M. Zafran, as well as guest curator Peter C. Sutton, and Lynn Orr, curator of the San Francisco Museums of Fine Art. The exhibition opens in Amsterdam, then travels to San Francisco and Hartford. Supported by The Samuel H. Kress Foundation and The Helen M. Saunders Charitable Foundation, Inc.


Consumed by the Past: Wallace Nutting and the Invention of Old America
May 1 – September 1, 2003
Wallace Nutting (1861-1941), the Harvard educated Congregational minister turned entrepreneurial photographer, author, and furniture maker, was an influential tastemaker and cultural critic in the early 20th century. His hand-tinted platinum prints of pastoral landscapes and "colonial" interiors, "States Beautiful" books, and reproduction furniture line reinforced idealized notions of "Pilgrim-Century" America at a time of cultural change and uncertainty. This exhibition—the first to explore Nutting’s consumer empire—will shed new light on the Wallace Nutting Collection of Early American Furniture, which was donated to the Wadsworth Atheneum by J.P. Morgan, Jr. in 1925.


Marsden Hartley
January 17 - April 13, 2003
"The painter from Maine" is how Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) identified himself, but the pioneering modernist, author, and poet spent much of his peripatetic life in Paris, Berlin, New York, Mexico, Bermuda, and elsewhere before returning, late in life, to his native state. This retrospective—the first in more than 20 years—features approximately 75 paintings and 20 works on paper that demonstrate the stylistic and thematic range of Hartley’s innovative work. Included are early impressionist Maine landscapes, symbolic "Berlin" paintings, the cubistic "Provincetown" series, powerful landscapes of the American southwest, Mexico, France, and the Alps, and examples of the raw figurative style that characterizes Hartley’s return to the Northeast. The accompanying catalogue has essays by Atheneum curators Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser and Amy Ellis, as well as Jonathan Weinberg, Wanda Corn, Patricia McDonnell, Carol Troyen, and Bruce Robertson. Travels to The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. Sponsored by United Technologies Corporation.


Benny Andrews: Bicentennial Series (working title)
May 2 – August 3, 2003
A leading figurative and collage artist, and a proponent of 1960s protest art, Benny Andrews (b. 1930) has been depicting the complexities of American life for over four decades. This exhibition focuses on his monumental Bicentennial Series, created to coincide with and play off the mounting patriotism leading up to the United States bicentennial celebration of 1976. All six mural-size works in the series will be shown together for the first time: Symbols (1970), Trash (1971), Circle (1972), Sexism (1973), War (1974), and Utopia (1975). The show, which is organized with the cooperation of the artist, also features 30 other related paintings and drawings.



Architects of American Fashion: Norman Norell and Pauline Trigère
Through February 17, 2002
Fashion designers, like architects, start with a vision, create a "blueprint," and select materials appropriate for the lifestyle and environment of their clients. American fashion designers Norman Norell (1900-72) and Pauline Trigère (1908- ) were masters of their art. Although their working methods differed (he drew, she draped and cut freehand), both constructed functional and elegantly tailored garments. Norell is famous for his sequined "mermaid dresses," as well as for the chemise and sailor dresses. Swirling coats and capes, one-shoulder evening gowns, and the color red define the Trigère look. Supported by the Costume and Textile Society and the Mary Pope Cheney Exhibition Fund.


Noncomposition: 15 Case Studies, 1955-1980
Through June 23, 2002
"Composition" has been central to the traditional idea of artistic creation, by which the artist arrives at a work of art through a personal expression of taste or style. The notion of "non-composition" describes the approach of artists who rejected tradition as they introduced non-subjective ways to make their art. This approach revealed the creative potential of concepts, systems, and processes including seriality, objectivity, and chance. This exhibition, drawn from the Wadsworth Atheneum’s collections, including The LeWitt Collection, features paintings, sculptures, and photographs by Vito Acconci, John Baldessari, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Mel Bochner, Eva Hesse, Alfred Jensen, Sol LeWitt, Roy Lichtenstein, Lee Lozano, Roman Opalka, and Andy Warhol.


Information: Call (860) 278-2670 or visit the museum website at

TDD is (860) 278-0294.


Open Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (The museum is open until 8 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month except December.) It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Independence Day. The museum closes at 3 p.m. on the eve of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Admission & Directions:

General Admission: Adults $7; seniors and students with I.D. $5; youths age 6-17 $4; members and children under 6 admitted free. Discounted admission fees apply for groups of 10 or more visitors with reservations.

Special Exhibition Admission: There is an additional $7 admission fee to Impressionism to Surrealism from The Baltimore Museum of Art and Matières de rêves: Stuff of Dreams from the Paris Musée des Arts Décoratifs. The special exhibition fee for Michael Sweerts and Marsden Hartley will be announced.


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