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The Short Version: When the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art opened its doors to the public in 1844, it had fewer than 100 paintings and sculptures on display. Today, it has over 50,000 works of art spanning more than 5,000 years. The extensive permanent collection includes European and American paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts, contemporary art, costumes and textiles, and more. If you’re a resident of Hartford, Connecticut — or if you come during the museum’s daily happy hour from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. — you can see these beautiful and interesting displays for free. Spending an afternoon at the Wadsworth Atheneum is an affordable and stimulating date activity for couples who enjoy learning about art, history, and culture. Whether you take a guided tour or visit a special exhibition, you’re bound to find something to talk about with your significant other during your visit.
A prominent American art patron named Daniel Wadsworth founded the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in 1842. He built it on the site of his family home in the heart of Hartford, Connecticut. Although Daniel originally intended to create a simple gallery of fine arts, he soon decided to expand it into a public atheneum, which means a cultural institution with a library and works of art on display.
The Wadsworth Atheneum opened in 1844, and it has been a valuable resource for visitors from around the world ever since. Now anyone can stop by the museum of art to engage their minds and senses in a stimulating setting.
If you’re looking for a quiet place to take a date, the Wadsworth Atheneum would be a great choice. You could spend hours here looking at exhibits, learning about history, and talking about how the art makes you feel.
Today, the Wadsworth Atheneum is the largest public art museum in Connecticut. Its permanent collection includes over 50,000 works objects, representing some of history’s most culturally significant moments. The galleries feature paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, furniture, and textiles dating back hundreds — and sometimes thousands — of years.
“If you love art, you will not want to miss the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art,” wrote Ramona34 in a TripAdvisor review. “It’s a great place to spend an afternoon.”
The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art welcomes visitors of all types, including students, scholars, tourists, and local art lovers. People come from around the world to see this extensive collection, but locals are equally thrilled to walk the galleries.
You won’t break the bank by taking a date to this museum, especially if you plan ahead. The Wadsworth Atheneum offers free admission during certain special events, such as its Second Saturdays and Community Days. Additionally, Hartford residents can receive free museum admission when they sign up for a Wadsworth Welcome Card, which is also free. This program encourages locals to make a trip to the museum and become part of Hartford’s art community.
Visitors can also get in for free during the museum’s happy hour 4-5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The Second Saturdays event, typically lasting from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., features free admission as well as family-friendly activities.
Conversation comes easily when you’re surrounded by interesting works of art, and the Wadsworth Atheneum has over 50,000 conversation starters in its permanent collection. The collection spans over 5,000 years, dating back to Greek and Roman antiquity, and offers a historical look at how art has changed over the centuries.
The museum’s exhibits showcase the rich diversity of artistic styles throughout art history. The collection includes everything from world-renowned Baroque and Surrealist paintings to modern and contemporary art. Whether you’re interested in Impressionist paintings or colonial furniture, you can find an array of noteworthy displays to pique your interests.
A dynamic team of experts educate visitors on the significance of the museum’s collection in daily drop-in tours (free with admission). You can also use your smartphone to take an audio tour (or borrow an iPod from the Information Desk). Everyone working at the Wadsworth Atheneum — from the curators to the facilities crew — helps shape the museum experience for visitors.
The Wadsworth Atheneum regularly organizes special exhibitions, bringing world-class art beyond its own collections to Hartford. The special exhibitions program is always changing, so couples can always find something new to see and do. Attending an exhibition would make a fantastic date activity because you can experience something new with your love interest and have plenty of things to talk about throughout the date.
In summer 2018, the Wadsworth Atheneum will present an exhibit called “Frederic Church: A Painter’s Pilgrimage.” If you love landscape paintings and dream of traveling abroad, this display will be right up your alley. History buffs will also enjoy learning about the life and travels of the renowned Hudson River School painter Frederic Church.
Starting October 20, 2018, the “Monsters & Myths” exhibition will feature the works of Surrealist artists from the 1930s and 1940s. The exhibit will include works by well-know Surrealists Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, and Max Ernst as well as lesser-known artists André Masson, Wolfgang Paalen, and Wifredo Lam active during the early 20th century. The exhibit will display visually powerful images and provides a historical context to help visitors understand the political undercurrents driving the Surrealist movement in a time of profound uncertainty and conflict.
To use the words of the website, “Monsters and myths became some of the Surrealists’ most favorite subjects, as they often took recourse in mythological themes to depict the horrors of war and capture dark premonitions.”
In 1931, the Wadsworth Atheneum became the first museum in the US to stage a Surrealist show, so this exhibit speaks to the museum’s roots as well. That same year, the museum had the honor of being the first in the world to acquire a painting by Salvador Dalí. “La Solitude” still resides in the Wadsworth Atheneum alongside two other Dalí paintings.
Founded in the 1840s, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art is the oldest continuously operating public art museum in the US. This cultural institution makes noteworthy works of art available to the general public and provides a thoughtful space where visitors can learn something new. Throughout the week, the museum brings people together through a shared educational and cultural experience, so it’s a wonderful place to take a date.
Over the last century, one can imagine that the Wadsworth Atheneum’s galleries and exhibits have prompted countless couples to engage in a thoughtful dialogue about art, love, and life.
“The Wadsworth is much more than just an ‘art’ museum,” said TravelFreak53 in a five-star review. “It offers great cinema, Sunday concerts in the atrium, good dining and shopping options, and wonderful programs for children and adults. What more could we ask for? We visit again and again, and never tire of what is offered. How lucky we are to have this gem in our capital city!”