Faqs - Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

Q. What is the museum's mission?
A. As one of Connecticut's principal cultural and civic institutions, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art is dedicated to outstanding collections, exhibitions, and educational programs, and to the highest professional standards. The museum seeks to engage diverse audiences with stimulating cultural experiences, and commits its resources to creating a forum for idea exchange and a gathering place for the whole community. Inspired by a distinguished tradition of innovation, the Wadsworth Atheneum will transform itself over the next five years with the renovation and expansion of its facilities, the reinstallation of its great collections, and introduction of creative new programs.

Q. Who is the Museum Director?
A. Willard Holmes was appointed the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum's ninth Director in March 2003. Prior to this appointment, Holmes served for nearly a decade as deputy director and chief operating officer at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Before his tenure at the Whitney, Holmes was chief curator and then director of the Vancouver Art Gallery, the fourth-largest art museum in Canada. He was head of exhibitions and a curator at the national Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. He is a specialist in twentieth century art, and has curated exhibitions around the world.

Q. Who was Daniel Wadsworth?
A. Hartford resident Daniel Wadsworth (1771–1848) was a traveler, amateur artist and architect, arts patron, and founder of the Wadsworth Atheneum. He descended from original settlers of the Connecticut colony. His father, Jeremiah, earned a fortune in trade, manufacturing, banking and insurance, and introduced a young Daniel to the great art and architecture of the royal courts of Europe. Daniel married Faith Trumbull in 1794, niece to Jonathan Trumbull, the period's most celebrated historical painter. In later years, Wadsworth was a leading patron of painter Thomas Cole, considered at the time America's greatest landscape painter. Wadsworth's associations with these artists helped him define his ambition to establish the county's first permanent gallery of fine art. Wadsworth donated his lot on Main Street in Hartford for the building of the Atheneum and donated many of the art objects initially displayed. At Wadsworth's death, he bequeathed the majority of his art collection to the Atheneum.

Q. Why is the museum's main building in the shape of a castle?
A. Atheneum founder Daniel Wadsworth admired the Gothic Revival style of Hartford's Christ Church, built in 1828. He commissioned architects Ithiel Town and Alexander Davis, its designers, to create a similarly romantic and imposing building to house his fine arts gallery. The "castle" portion of the Atheneum is the original structure. It was divided into three sections, separated by sturdy brick walls to reduce the risk of fire.

Q. How will the Atheneum employ the former Hartford Times Building?
A: The Atheneum expects to soon unveil its plans for the former Hartford Times Building, adjacent to existing museum space on Prospect Street. Subsequent renovations to the Times property are expected to take two years. While it is not known exactly how the Times building will be employed, its additional space will permit the Atheneum to display more art, from its own collections now in storage, and to host more traveling exhibitions.


Accessibility
Q. Does the museum have parking?
A. A paved surface lot is available for visitors behind the museum on Prospect Street. Open during museum hours. Limited on-street parking can be found on side streets surrounding the Atheneum. Covered parking is available at the Morgan Street Garage, approximately four blocks from the museum.

Q. Is the museum accessible via public transportation?
A. Yes. For local passengers, there is a Connecticut Transit bus stop directly in front of the Atheneum at 600 Main St. For out-of-town travelers, AMTRAK and major bus lines serve downtown Hartford. Trains and buses arrive regularly at Union Station, approximately seven blocks from the museum. If you are so inclined, you may walk to the museum from Union Station by going four blocks east on Asylum Street. Then, turn right on Main Street and continue three blocks to the museum at 600 Main Street. See map. If you prefer, taxis are available by calling (860) 666-6666.

Q. Is the museum handicapped accessible? A.
Yes. All galleries are wheelchair accessible—either via ramps or elevators. Visitors with physical challenges may use the Avery entrance on Atheneum Square North. There are several handicapped spots available on Main Street and additional handicapped parking in the Morgan Street Garage. By advance arrangement, ASL interpreters are available for hearing-impaired visitors. See map.

Q. Do you have wheelchairs?
A. Yes. We have four wheelchairs for use on a first-come, first-served basis. They are located at the Avery entrance on Atheneum Square North.

Q. Do you allow strollers and baby backpacks in the museum?
A. Yes, strollers and carriers that hold the baby to the front are allowed. However, to ensure the safety of the artwork, baby backpacks are not permitted. All galleries are accessible to strollers. You may keep your diaper bag with you in the museum.

Q: Do you have strollers?
A. We do not have strollers for use in the museum, so please bring your own.

Admissions
Q. Does the museum offer free admission?
A. Yes. Visit your local library to pick up an ART PASS, good for free general admission to the museum for two adults and two children. The ART PASS cannot be used during our special fundraisers. In addition, members are free to visit the permanent collection at any time at no charge. The museum also offers four community open houses per year, offering free admission to all visitors.

Collections
Q. What is the Atheneum famous for?
A. The Wadsworth Atheneum is best known for its large, fine collection of Hudson River School paintings. Originally acquired by museum founder and art patron Daniel Wadsworth, the collected works portray the pristine grandeur of the American wilderness in the nineteenth century. Other points of distinction are the Wadsworth's leadership position among American museums; it was the first to acquire Surrealist masterpieces (by Dalí and de Chirico, among others), and Renaissance art by Caravaggio. In the 1930s, the museum expanded its support of the arts by sponsoring George Balanchine's immigration to the United States, and staging the premiere of Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thompson’s opera, Four Saints in Three Acts.

Q. What are Atheneum works not to be missed?
A. We suggest you be sure to view these Atheneum favorites: Sol LeWitt's wall drawing in the Morgan Great Hall stairway; Fredric Edwin Church's Coast Scene, Mount Desert, a masterpiece from the Hudson River School, located in the Avery building; Milton Avery's Husband and Wife; and Vincent Van Gogh's self-portrait in the Huntington gallery.

Q. Which famous artists are represented in the museum?
A. Expect to find household names hanging on every wall at the Atheneum. Among others, the museum features: Picasso, Monet, Dalí, Van Gogh, Warhol, Miró, Matisse, Sargent, Hopper, Homer, Wyeth, Klimt, Caravaggio, de Chirico, LeWitt, Rauschenberg, Sherman, Stella, Oldenburg, Giacometti, and Albers.

Donations
Q. How can I make donations to the museum?
A. As a not-for-profit institution, The Atheneum greatly appreciates all monetary support. You have several options. You may join as an individual member, a corporate member, or premier member. You also may support the Athenuem when you make a donation. Donors preferring to discuss their interests over the phone are invited to call (860) 278-2670, ext. 3095. People wishing to donate their time and talents are also warmly welcomed. We have many opportunities for docents and volunteers. To make an art donation, please inquire by calling Gertrud Bourgoyne at (860) 278-2670, ext. 3093.

Facilities
Q. What hours does the Museum Cafe serve meals?
A. The Museum Cafe serves lunch Wednesday through Saturday and Sunday brunch, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. On the First Thursday of each month, the Museum Cafe; serves dinner from 5:00–8:00 p.m. A children's menu is offered. Reservations are strongly recommended by called (860) 838-4042. View menu.

Q. What are The Museum Shop's hours?
A. The Museum Shop is open during the public hours of the museum, Wednesday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; and on most First Thursdays until 8:00 p.m. View shop.

Q. What is in the Auerbach Art Library?
A. The Auerbach Art Library, located right inside the museum’s main entrance, houses 40,000 volumes including scholarly monographs, exhibition catalogues, fine art periodicals, museum bulletins, and auction catalogues. It is one of the most comprehensive art historical collections in New England. More...

Q. Can books and materials be borrowed from the Auerbach Art Library?
A. No. The Auerbach is a noncirculating reference library. However, members of the public are welcome to examine library materials on site during library hours.

Q. What are the hours of the Auerbach Art Library?
A. The Library is open Wednesday and Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Saturdays (September through May) from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Services
Q. Can the museum appraise a piece of artwork for me? A. The museum does not do monetary appraisals of artwork. You may contact www.appraiser.org or call (703) 478-2228 to get the name of an appraiser in your area. Twice a year, in April and October, the museum offers a free Expertise Clinic. Wadsworth Atheneum curators will give oral, aesthetic appraisals of paintings or art objects. If you have any questions, please contact Gertrud Bourgoyne or call (860) 278-2670, ext. 3093 to be certain a curator specializing in your type of artwork will be available. The clinic will be listed in the calendar of events.

Q. How do I arrange for a group tour?
A. Please contact the Group Visits Coordinator Monday through Friday at (860) 278-2670, ext. 3046. To receive the group discount, you must have ten people or more.

Q. Do you rent gallery space for weddings and other parties?
A. Yes, the galleries are available for rent on a limited basis. For rates and additional information, please call (860) 278-2670, ext. 3038.

Sketching / Photography
Q. Can I sketch in the galleries?
A. Yes, if you follow guidelines. Visitors may sketch in the permanent collection galleries using a pencil and a 24" x 30" sketchpad. Please see a Protection Services Officer at any entrance for a sketching guideline form.

Q. Can I take photographs in the galleries?
A. Yes, if you follow guidelines. You are welcome to use cameras in the galleries of our permanent collection with natural light. No flash photography is allowed. Please see a Protection Services Officer at any entrance for a photography guideline form.


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