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Long Profile of The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Connecticut



The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut was established in 1842.

The founding collection began with 79 paintings and 3 sculptures, and as of 2012, the collection is now over 50,000 works of art.


The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art was founded in 1842 and is the oldest public art museum in the US. The founder, Daniel Wadsworth "planned to establish 'a Gallery of Fine Arts,' but he was persuaded to establish an 'atheneum,' a term used in the nineteenth-century for a cultural institution with a library, works of art and artifacts, devoted to history, literature, art and science."

The Wadsworth Atheneum began with mainly "history paintings, portraits, and American landscapes by artists such as John Trumbull, Thomas Cole and Frederic Church, along with examples of Victorian sculpture."

By 1927, it was the "first American museum to acquire works by Caravaggio, Miró, Mondrian, Balthus, Harnett, Cornell and Dalí."


The Museum's mission according to their website: is to "hold its collection in trust for all people."


The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art is located in Hartford, Connecticut.

The Museum recommends the following travel instructions: "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."

Famed Artworks in Collection:

The Museum has acquired an impressive collection of art which spans 5,000 years, and includes "the Morgan collection of Greek and Roman antiquities and European decorative arts; world-renowned baroque and surrealist paintings; an unsurpassed collection of Hudson River School landscapes; European and American Impressionist paintings; modernist masterpieces; the Serge Lifar collecton of Ballets Russes drawings and costumes; the George A. Gay collection of prints; the Wallace Nutting collection of American colonial furniture and decorative arts; the Samuel Colt firearms collection; costumes and textiles; African American art and artifacts; and contemporary art."


Some key pieces in the collection are: "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 Huntington Gallery; Milton Avery’s Husband and Wife in Avery Gallery on the third floor.

Museum's Conservation Department:

Art conservation is the practice of preserving an artwork. Art conservators do detailed research and scientific analysis to explore the best way to conserve an artwork for future generations.

The Museum's Conservation Department was founded in the early 60s.

According to the Museum's website: "Conservators work in close collaboration with curators and scientists to make well-informed decisions about the treatment process for each object. Each treatment is far different from the last; physical challenges in preservation and restoration range from removing surface grime to the treatment of organic materials like chocolate sculptures, grease as a binder or animal carcasses suspended in formaldehyde."

"Additional responsibilities of the conservation department include public outreach, preventive conservation and environmental monitoring. The Conservation Department collaborates with the registrar on storage, pest management, safe display and standards for traveling works of art."

"The term 'technical art history' was coined to reflect the joint work of conservators and art historians to investigate the physical structure of an object or painting using various methodologies, such as radiography and infrared reflectography, in order to learn more about individual works. Exhibitions now often include information about the artists’ techniques and materials, elucidating the artist’s working methods and enabling the visitor to gain insight into the process of the physical creation of works of art."

Noteworthy Facts:

The Auerbach Art Library includes 40,000 volumes of "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."

Artists Submissions

Artists are invited to submit proposals for future exhibitions to the Contemporary Art Department. A cover letter, statement, resume, catalogues, essays, and images are required. Please check the Museum's website for further details.

Employment Information:

The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art posts job opportunities on its website, which may be available in the various departments such as administrative, conservation, curatorial, educational, and public relations, marketing and retail, so be sure to check the listings regularly. It also posts volunteer and intern positions.

How to Apply for a Job:

Please refer to the Museum's guidelines regarding employment, as you can apply online for a job. Alternatively, you may wish to send your résumé, with a cover letter to the Museum stating the position which you are applying.

Museum's Contact Info:

Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 600 Main Street, Hartford, CT 06103. Tel: (860) 278-2670

The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art's website

Museum Hours:

  • Mondays closed
  • Tuesdays closed
  • Wednesdays 11:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • Thursdays 11:00 am to 5:00 pm, First Thursdays: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm
  • Fridays 11:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • Saturdays 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • Sundays 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • Closed Holidays
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