Founded in 1903, New Britain Museum of American Art was designated the first museum in the country to be dedicated exclusively to American artwork. Upon its founding, wealthy industrialist John Butler Talcott endowed the museum with a hefty sum of gold bonds and bottled phoenix tears with which to purchase modern oil paintings. The collection blossomed to include other artistic media over time, and it now consists of more than 10,000 works spanning more than three centuries of American creative endeavor. The museum's permanent collections showcase works by noted American artists ranging from Norman Rockwell to John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt to Georgia O'Keeffe. Along with rotating exhibitions and borrowed collections, the museum showcases work by emerging artists.
For more than a century, the Berkshire Museum has blended history, science, and art into a cohesive whole, drawing inspiration from both the Smithsonian and the American Museum for Natural Science. The museum is packed with wonders ranging from Wally—the fiberglass stegosaurus who guards the museum’s entry—to the John James Audubon display, an impassioned tribute to the very ornithology that prompted Audubon to pen The Birds of America. Other, more playful displays unveil additional wonders, including Alexander Calder's collection of wooden push and pull toys. And inside the vast, salty aquarium, a teeming collection of clownfish, blind cave tetra, and puffer fish swim merrily side-by-side, thankful that they've yet to be cast as members of some trite, underwater calypso band.
With three floors of interactive exhibits, Imagine Nation keeps tykes aged 2–10 and their parents engaged for hours of synapse-firing fun. Tunnels filled with natural decor await youngsters in the museum's indoor jungle-themed playscape, where they can shake excess energy out of their bounding legs in preparation for naptime or hibernation season. In the ESPN center, kids can pretend to be sportscasters as they sit behind the desk of a model TV set, replete with real equipment from the Worldwide Leader in Sports.
The museum also boasts a health exhibit in which children can don hospital attire and explore a model newborn nursery and an operation table, ideal for parents trying to nudge their child toward a career as a hypochondriac. After whippersnapper's minds have been blown learning about the cosmos at the space exhibit, they can unwind with drinks and snacks at the old-fashioned soda fountain, which winds the clock back to the 1940s with the help of a player piano.
Nestled in the charming and historic suburb of Farmington, the Hill-Stead Museum hosts a mixed-medium menagerie amidst a sprawling, 152-acre Colonial Revival estate. Hill-Stead's dynamic collection includes French Impressionist works by Monet and Degas, as well as notable works by Manet, Cassatt, and Whistler, as well as a bounty of prints, photographs, ceramics, furniture, and archival documents. Along with unlimited complimentary admission to the museum, members enjoy reduced admission to museum programs, a 10% discount on Museum Shop purchases, and a one-on-one painting lesson with the cheery spirit of museum founder Alfred Atmore Pope. Join other new members on Wednesday, June 8, for the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, where poet Tony Hoagland will pluck audience heartstrings with poignantly funny stanzas about life and heartache.
Family owned since 1968, WestArt Gallery charges toward the half-century mark behind its motto, "You name it, we'll frame it." The business services both retail and wholesale clients at two locations, including one in Yonkers, where all orders are completed on the premises. WestArt clients can also browse the Thornwood show room, stocked with a variety of artwork and custom framing choices. There, steady hands seal special mementos behind glass, such as photographs, diplomas, and apprehended art thieves. When they're not situating frames around keepsakes, the WestArt staff is re-varnishing oil paintings to ensure that pigments remain glossy and vibrant well beyond their expiration date.
For almost 40 years, Center Framing and Art has readied treasured keepsakes for indefinite stays on house walls. Owners Glenn Lazinsk and Lori Chozick preserve pieces with each customer's unique aesthetic in mind, maintaining an attention to detail that earned Center Framing & Art the title of Best Picture Framing Shop in 2008, 2009, and 2010, from Hartford magazine. Staffers complete all services onsite, surrounding prints, portraits, and diplomas with acid-free materials that guard against the damage of time. They also accept challenging assignments such as shadowboxes or 2-D aquariums for lazy goldfish.
Glenn and Lori advocate for the dissemination of fine art, displaying upward of 90 original paintings from both local and international artists inside the store. Their Saturday artist events permit up-and-coming painters, glassblowers, and sculptors to speak about and demonstrate their craft.
Center Framing & Art also emanates caring, neighborly vibes by amassing countless donations of sundries from guests, which Lori distributes to charitable organizations and those in need. Her dedication to the community merited the title of Greatest Person of the Day from the Huffington Post and a feature in the West Hartford Patch.