Masterworks at Your Fingertips
Henri Matisse, Nature morte à la statuette (Still Life with Plaster Figure), 1906. Oil on canvas. Yale University Art Gallery, Bequest of Kate L. )
Animal Head for a Puppet Masquerade, Bamana, Mali, mid to late 20th century. Wood, paint, mirrors, cloth, and metal. Yale University Art Gallery, Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection )
Footprints of the Buddha (Buddhapada), South Asian, ancient Gandhara, 2nd century C.E. Grey schist. Yale University Art Gallery, Gift of the Rubin-Ladd Foundation under the bequest of Ester R. Portnow )
Cabinet of Curiosities at Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Photograph courtesy of the Wadsworth Atheneum )
Carl Joe Williams, Waiting, 2016. Mixed media on mattress. Petrucci Family Foundation. )
From masterworks to contemporary designs, the digital world may put millions of art images at our fingertips, but what about the originals? Take a day trip to the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, or the Wadsworth Antheneum in Hartford, and you'll encounter a treasure trove of original artwork and incredible exhibits curated to encourage exploration, exhilaration and education. And don't forget your Smartphone – both venues offer free, downloadable self-guided tours with exciting audio and visual extras to accompany you as you explore.
Yale University Art Gallery
Always free to the public, this world-class gallery in New Haven's heart of Yale is dedicated to fostering an appreciation for the arts in all. On all four floors, visitors can stand within a hand's breadth of works last touched by the artists' hands – from the gigantic "Footprints of the Buddha (Buddhapada)" on display in Asian Art; to the colorful, outsized carving "Animal Head for a Puppet Masquerade" in African Art to works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet and Degas, to name but a few.
The gallery's permanent collection of over 250,000 objects spans the worlds of African Art, American Decorative Arts, American Paintings and Sculpture, Ancient Art, Art of the Ancient Americas, Asian Art, European Art, Indo-Pacific Art, Modern and Contemporary Art, Numismatics (coins, paper currency, medals) and Photography. You can grab a map and spend hours viewing it all, or simply make a beeline to any area of interest.
We explored much of the gallery assisted by the gallery's new app, available free from the App Store for Apple devices or online for others (artgallery.yale.edu/app). A quick download to your Smartphone and you've tours and experts – from curators to artists, scholars to students -- available at your touch, sharing engaging audio guides as you explore each collection, special exhibition and their works of art. Among the app's Special Tours are several which take timing into consideration – select from a 30-minute tour, 60-minute tour or a 90-minute tour. There's even a 45-minute Tween/Teen tour with loads of exciting art to experience on their own.
The app also features a thorough artwork search of collections and special exhibits. Not an art expert? No problem. We tried typing in "Pi," which brought up, among a long list of suggestions, Piet Mondiran's "By the Sea;" Pablo Picasso's "First Steps" and an Aztec "Head of Xochipilli-Macuilxochitl, God of Pleasure Games and Music." You can also get specific to find your favorite hits, such as "Nature morte à la statuette (Still Life with Plaster Figure)" by Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954).
The app also includes a history and architecture tour of the gallery's three buildings; a marriage of two neo-Gothic buildings together with Louis Kahn's famed, 1953 modernist masterpiece of glass and steel at the main public entrance.
Speaking of glass, get to the gallery by Sept. 29 to take in "A Nation Reflected: Stories in American Glass." The special exhibit features over 100 thought-provoking and often breath-taking glass objects d'art, technology and utility from colonial times through today. At its website
https://artgallery.yale.edu, the gallery explains the exhibit demonstrates how American glassmaking "...has mirrored the expansion of colonial settlements into a thriving nation, and thus the medium offers captivating stories about many aspects of American history: flasks and bottles emblazoned with portraits of politicians and celebrities signal the personal beliefs of those who used them; light bulbs, laboratory glass, and patented innovations bring technological sophistication into the home; and contemporary artists and craftsmen continue to reinterpret the medium's rich past."
Now through Jan. 5, 2020, the gallery will offer another special exhibit, "William Bailey: Looking through Time," celebrating the career and works of this Kingman Brewster Professor Emeritus of Art at Yale. As described by the gallery, "...known for his meditative canvases depicting objects and figures painted from memory, Bailey is one of the artists—including Audrey Flack, Alex Katz, and Philip Pearlstein—who defied the prevailing taste for abstraction at midcentury and instead committed themselves to representational painting. Bailey's artistic inspirations span centuries, from Raphael and Piero della Francesca to Giorgio de Chirico and Piet Mondrian, with Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and Paul Cézanne in between."
The Yale University Art Gallery is free and open to the public at 1111 Chapel St. New Haven (between York and High Streets). Regular hours: Tuesday to Friday 10 a.m. to p.m., Thursday (September through June) 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday to Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Mondays.
The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
The dazzling art on display at the Wadsworth, the nation's oldest continuously-operating public art museum, is fittingly located in the state's capital of Hartford. Founded in 1842, the museum has grown to a collection of nearly 50,000 works of art, from antiquity to groundbreaking exhibitions like the recent "Be Seen: Portrait Photography Since Stonewall."
The tremendously forward-thinking exhibition celebrates dozens of revolutionary artists – including Patti Smith and Andy Warhol -- and the artwork they've used to challenge norms and uplift the LGBTQ community in the 50 years since the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City. "For many of the artists in Be Seen, gender is not simply something we are, but something we perform. Just as the subjects of these photographs 'pose' for the camera, so too do we perform our gender through the clothes we wear and how we interact with others," the gallery notes at its website www.thewadsworth.org.
Exhibits like "Be Seen" immediately erase any thoughts of visiting a stuffy art museum when you walk into the Wadsworth. Of course, the classics have a home here, too. Visitors can browse collections of Greek and Roman antiquities, European decorative arts and paintings, paintings, paintings -- famed pieces by Baroque, Surrealist, European and American Impressionists, a renowned collection of Hudson River School landscapes and Modernist masterpieces to name but a few. The Wadsworth's collection of nearly 50,000 pieces also features a fine grouping of American colonial furniture and decorative arts. This being Hartford, you'll also find the Samuel Colt firearms collection. The museum also mixes in incredible costumes and textiles, contemporary art and African American art among its collections.
All of this is spread among the Wadsworth's five connected buildings, which is well worth the visit simply to view the astonishing array spanning 19th and 20th century architecture and interiors. The facilities include the 1844 Gothic Revival original building, among inspiring interiors and exteriors including the 20th century Avery Memorial building – opened in 1934 with the first modern International Style interior found in any museum – and the modernist Goodwin Building, opened in 1969.
Special exhibits are also always a fantastic reason to visit the Wadsworth. Opening Oct. 19 and running through Jan. 20, 2020, "Afrocosmologies: American Reflections," is among the latest of many notable offerings.
"Black artists explore ideas about spirituality and culture in Afrocosmologies: American Reflections," according to the gallery's exhibit notes. "Alongside artists of the late-nineteenth century, contemporary artists define new ideas about spirituality, identity, and the environment in ways that move beyond traditional narratives of Black Christianity. In dialogue, these works acknowledge a continuing body of beliefs—a cosmology—that incorporates the centrality of nature, ritual, and relationships between the human and the divine. Emerging from the rich religious and aesthetic traditions of West Africa and the Americas, these works present a dynamic cosmos of influences that shape Contemporary art."
Afrocosmologies is just the latest example of the Wadsworth Antheneum's constant press to encourage the public to explore and engage in art. Foresight and acquisitions by patrons, directors, and curators dedicated to supporting the work of living artists through the decades have also yielded a permanent collection that includes contemporary works by the likes of Salvador Dali, Caravaggio and Frederic Church, among others.
Thanks to the modern age, visitors can get a big assist in finding out more about what's on display on every floor, by downloading a free mobile multimedia tour of the museum at tap.thewadsworth.org
Here's how it works: check artwork labels to find a number and mobile phone symbol. Enter the number, and pull up discussions from experts and artists, additional images, video clips and more about what's on view. The museum staff has also created a grouping of "Special Tours" to explore with your Smartphone. We loved checking out "12 Highlights," showing the special range of the museum -- from Pablo Picasso's "The Painter" to a circa 1936 chair and desk designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Other offerings range from a Family Tour (great for, you guessed it – families) as well as "Artists on Art" –fan talk from artists inspired by what they've found on view in the Wadsworth's collection.
For the personal touch, the Wadsworth also offers guided tours highlighting the collection. Regular tours step off from the main-floor information desk at 1 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays; while guided tours of special exhibitions are offered on Saturdays and Sundays, departing at 2:30 p.m. Tours are free with museum admission.
The Wadsworth also recently revamped its visitors guide and map of its three floors of displays. Find it, together with much more information about this iconic art museum, at www.thewadsworth.org.
The Wadsworth Antheneum is located at 600 Main St. Hartford. Museum admission is free from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday;
at all other times museum admissions are free for members, Hartford residents and youth (under 18); and $15 for Adults, $12 for Seniors (62+), $5 for students (18+ with school ID). Museum hours: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Preferred Parking ($3 Flat Rate Parking, with museum validation) is at Front Street South Garage, 62 Front Street Crossing, Hartford, CT. Other fee parking and on street kiosk parking is available in the area.