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Wadsworth Atheneum - Hartford CT


Main Building of the Wadsworth Atheneum - opened 1844


When I travel, I love finding small art museum with good collections. The Wadsworth Atheneum is one of my favorite finds. Opened in 1842, the Atheneum is the oldest public art museum in the United States. The museum was founded by Daniel Wadsworth, son of Jerimiah Wadsworth a merchant and representative of Connecticut in the Continental Congress. Daniel was a painter and architect who was a close friend of Thomas Cole, one of the founders of the Hudson River School of painting.


  The Museum was an atheneum, which was a common term at the time, because it included not just art, but a library and artifacts of history, literature and science. It has grown today to include five buildings. Its collection has benefited from several Hartford natives including the Colt family collection and the collection of J.P. Morgan.




The main building and the Morgan Memorial


The art at the Wadsworth has many highlights. One of them is a large collection of Hudson River School paintings. Works by Thomas Cole and Frederic Edwin Church form the backbone of this collection.




The Vale of St. Thomas, Jamaica by Frederic Edwin Church



Niagara Falls by Frederic Edwin Church



The Atheneum also has very good collection of modern and contemporary art, including a Pollack and a Warhol. 




Hector by Paul Feeley



En la barberÍa, no se llora by PepÓn Osorio


There is also a collection of cubist and surrealist art including several Picassos and Dalis.

Finally the is an extensive collection of European art, including a Caravaggio. Unfortunately that collection is closed until September because that collection is being moved into newly renovated wing of the museum.


The Atheneum is a wonderful collection that is easily seen in two to three hours. It is worth taking a weekend trip to Hartford with the the Atheneum as the main reason and any number of other small museums in the area as add-ons.



IMG_0295The Painter by Pablo Picasso



Inside the Wadsworth



Stairway in the Wadsworth



Nathan Hale



A Calder statue between the Wadsworth and City Hall



Hartford City Hall


With the Quadrangle in Springfield MA (here) this makes for a nice weekend get away in the Connecticut River Valley.


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We've also enjoyed the Wadsworth...which makes a nice break in a trip between NY and Boston, as well. It's also hosted some interesting temporary exhibits that have made it worth a trip of its own.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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