Back to Articles

Hartford Bus RentalHartford Tour Guide

Art Museum in a Castle

Dec 10, 2013

Wanting to appreciate art at a historical location? Want to visit a castle? Charter bus visitors can get all of that by visiting the Wadsworth Atheneum, the oldest public art museum in the United States. At this museum, you can admire the beautiful French and American Impressionist paintings, modernists masterpieces, contemporary works, Hudson River School landscapes and American furniture and decorative arts, all in a castle-like building in downtown Hartford.

Rich History of the Fine Arts Museum

The Wadsworth Atheneum, or popularly known as The Wadsworth, was designed by architects Alexander Jackson Davis and Ithiel Town in 1842, and constructed on Daniel Wadsworth family home site. Many of the art pieces found in the museum were contributed by the affluent Wadsworth family.

The history of the museum is extensive with lots of “firsts”. The Wadsworth is the first museum in America to acquire pieces of exquisite art by Salvador Dali, Frederic Church, Balthus, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio and many more. The museum also hosted the first American exhibition on surrealism, and the first major American Picasso retrospective was held at The Wadsworth as well.

The Wadsworth Building

The museum consists of five connected buildings. One of the buildings is the Gothic Revival Wadsworth building of 1844, that originally housed the art gallery, the Connecticut Historical Society, the Young Men’s Institute and the Natural History Society. In the 1860s, the Watkinson Library of Reference was added to the original building. Later on, the Tudor Revival Colt Memorial of 1910 and the Renaissance Revival Morgan Memorial of 1910-15 was added to provide more space for the fine arts collection that kept increasing. These two buildings were designed by Benjamin Wistar Morris.

The first American museum building with a modern International Style interior can be found here at The Wadsworth Avery Memorial.

The Festival of Trees

This year at The Wadsworth, bus rental visitors can visit its holiday season exhibition: the 40th Annual Festival of Trees and Traditions. You should visit it soon since it would be ending shortly. This festival is a fundraiser, one of the largest organized by The Wadsworth, and goes on for nine days. In this exhibition, holiday trees and wreaths painstakingly decorated by Hartford local artists and organizations are displayed. The items are all for sale and all its proceedings goes to funding special exhibitions, educational programs and operating expenses. Admission for adults is at $13, senior citizens at $11, students at $8 and children as well as members can be admitted for just $3.