Grade: A-

In a word: The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut is filled with the B+ material of A-list artists. There are fewer crowds than in better-known museums in larger cities, which means a more intimate and personal experience.

More Words: I recently had an overnight in Hartford, Connecticut, with a few hours to spare in the morning. This is one of the cities most flight attendants avoid in the winter months, trying instead to get overnights in San Juan, or West Palm. However, I was pleasantly surprised at what a cool little city Hartford turned out to be, especially for people like me who love art, history, and architecture.

Main Street, Hartford
Main Street, Hartford

The main drag, appropriately called Main Street, is filled with a variety of architectural styles spanning the past 200 years including lovely churches, restaurants and retail spots on the ground floors of office towers, and some municipal-type buildings. I poked my head in many, but didn’t really have time to check them out in detail, until I got to what looked like a gothic revival abby fortress.

I had discovered the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, and what I found inside impressed me. Immediately inside the ticket counter I encountered a large room filled with some amazing contemporary art, including some done by my favorites like Kara Walker and Duane Hanson.

Kara Walker, left, Duane Hanson, right.
Kara Walker, left, Duane Hanson, right.

There also was a Gonzalez Torres of two synchronized classic kitchen clocks side-by-side, entitled Perfect Lovers. Usually I’m not a huge fan of video art, however I make an exception for the video installation of New York City streets by James Nares projected in a dark side room. Other influential and renowned post-war artists shared the space including Rauschenberg, Warhol, and Pollock, among others.

In the following rooms you stepped back in time to the era of modernism with works by artists like Miro, Gaugin, Monet, Dali, Renoir, etc. In further rooms you can explore classic European art which I quickly browsed as I was running out of time. But I was particularly impressed with a dark Caravaggio painting of a saint and angel.

Upstairs, there is a solid collection of American art, including both paintings and decorative arts such as pottery and furniture. There’s also a small art nouveau section, and a large space for temporary exhibits. The one currently on display featured art about Coney Island.

The Art Nouveau room.
The Art Nouveau room.

On my way out, I stopped by the library and wished I had more time to check it out more thoroughly. I will definitely be coming back the next time I’m in Hartford.

— Laura Rowley 

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Written by Laura Rowley

I am an artist, flight attendant, and travel blogger.

3 comments

  1. I’m glad you enjoyed Hartford! I live in West Hartford, a suburb, and I love to hear when others come and find some enjoyment in our little city. The Wadsworth is lovely, and if you enjoy architecture and history you might want to check out the State Capitol, the Old Statehouse or the Mark Twain Museum the next time you have a layover!

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