The Wadsworth Atheneum is the oldest continuously operating public art museum in the country. Founded in 1842, “Hartford’s Art Castle” (a name we made up but feel is appropriate) houses 50,000 works of art that span 5,000 years.
The castle-like museum explores every era of American and European art history. From colonial furniture to Colt firearms to Warhol paintings, the Wadsworth’s collections are vast and varied.
In addition to historical collections of art, the museum features leading contemporary art exhibitions through its MATRIX program. The art castle also houses The Amistad Center for Art & Culture, a collection of art and artifacts documenting African American heritage.
The largest “object” in the museum’s collections is actually a mansion. The Austin House was the home of the museum’s famed former director, Arthur Everett “Chick” Austin, Jr.
At only 18-feet wide, the lavish estate is oddly narrow for a home of its stature. The unique home, once a gathering place for the likes of Salvador Dalí and Gertrude Stein, is now a National Historic Landmark.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday. The Auerbach Libary is open Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays only.
Admission is $15 for adults and free for those under 18. View current exhibitions here and permanent collections here.
The Austin House is located a couple of miles away and requires advanced reserevation. For tours, see here for reservation information.