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The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art is the oldest continually operating art museum in the U.S.

Marija Georgievska

The Wadsworth Atheneum Art Museum is the oldest continually operating art museum in the US.

It is located in Hartford, Connecticut, and it has 50,000 works of art which were created over a period of 5,000 years.

The Art Museum is known around the world for its unique collections of Egyptian bronzes and Classical bronzes, European Baroque Art, its collection of impressionist paintings from France and America, the decorative arts, Modernist masterpieces, African-American art, and a collection of unique American furniture.

Wadsworth Atheneum. Photo Credit

Wadsworth Atheneum. Photo Credit

 

Front view of the museum. Photo Credit

Front view of the museum. Photo Credit

It is also the largest museum in Connecticut because of it’s 75,000 square feet exhibition space. In 1970, the museum was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it became a member of the program of the North American Reciprocal Museums. The architects who designed the museum were Alexander Jackson and Ithiel Town.

It got the name Wadsworth Atheneum because it was built on the site where the family home of Daniel Wadsworth originally stood in 1842. It was opened to the public in 1844, on July 31st, and from that moment on it has operated continuously. The Wadsworth family was the oldest in the city and contributed many pieces of art for the opening of the museum.

It was opened to the public in 1844.

It was opened to the public in 1844.

 

Interior view of the museum.

Interior view of the museum.

Mayan Pottery Display in the museum. Photo Credit

Mayan Pottery Display in the museum. Photo Credit

At the opening, 78 paintings were exhibited, and a bronze statue, marble busts, and one miniature portrait were on display. The structure of the museum is made up of the original building, which was built in the 19th century, and over the years four new wings were added, designed in various styles from Tudor and Renaissance Revival to International style.

 

Outside the museum, there is a statue of Nathan Hale which was made by Enoch S. Woods. It also owns the house of A. Everett Austin which is the home of one of the most distinguished directors of the museum and today is a National Historic Landmark. The museum was the first in the country that acquired artworks by Frederic Church, Piet Mondrian, Balthus, Salvador Dali, and many other famous painters.

The Nathan Hale statue by Enoch Smith Woods. Photo Credit

The Nathan Hale statue by Enoch Smith Woods. Photo Credit

 

St. Francis in Ecstasy by Caravaggio.

St. Francis in Ecstasy by Caravaggio.

The first surrealism exhibition was shown in 1931, and the first Picasso retrospective was in 1934. Some of the highlights among the paintings in the museum include “The Beach at Trouville” by Claude Monet, “Head of an Angel” by Fra Angelico, “St. Francis in Ecstasy” by Caravaggio, “The Fan” by James Tissot, and “House in the Country” by Paul Cezanne.

Read another story from us: Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney: The founder of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City

Other notable collections are the paintings of Camille Pissarro, the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh and much more.