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NBMAA Celebrates 115th Birthday with Community Day


The New Britain Museum of American Art (NBMAA) celebrated its 115th year Saturday, April 7, hosting Community Day with free admission and a variety of activities for both adults and children.

Guests enjoyed art inspired by the exhibition American Post-Impressionists: Maurice and Charles Prendergast.

Maurice Prendergast was interested in what people did for leisure and often painted in parks. Community Day connected visitors to Prendergast’s artistic interests through an excerpt of Ballet Theatre Company’s spring performance, held on the Museum grounds overlooking Walnut Hill Park, and plein air sketching led by Museum educators, as well as a guided tour of the exhibition. This all-ages event connected visitors with NBMAA artworks through these activities as well as provided a unique opportunity to explore the Museum’s grounds.

The Ballet Theatre Company performed excerpts from its Spring production of Cinderella. They danced in gallery spaces near the windows.

Kate Swanson, Manager of Family & Studio Programs said, this was one of four free days at the museum. Others include Martin Luther King Jr. Day, on the second Saturday in June will be in concert with Connecticut Open House Day with free activities across the State, and a holiday community day on the second Sunday of December. The Ballet Theatre Company will also be performing in December.

“Today is the big 115. We are really ready for spring,” said Swanson. “The Prendergast exhibit has a spring feel. He painted outside, doing leisure activities in parks, beaches and relaxing. We are encouraging people to look at what everyone is doing for leisure. We want people to look at the park as a place where people can go.”

The museum workshop had large open windows where kids and adults were working on projects, showcasing Walnut Hill Park.

“People congregate and can tie in with this beautiful park and its almost finally Spring and time to think about the sun being out,” Swanson said. “We wanted to do things outside today but it is kind of chilly.”

There were two pieces of Prendergast’s work which are available at the opening of the exhibit that were models for those in the workshop to use for turning their own pictures into a mosaic.

“Our Community Day focus is that if you are coming as a family there is something for everyone to come and spend time together doing,” added Swanson.

The Prendergast exhibit will continue through June 10 at the Stitzer Family Gallery.

Travel in time to the early 20th century when Maurice and Charles Prendergast revolutionized American art. Inspired by European styles, the brothers challenged traditional artistic conventions, propelling the American Post-Impressionist movement and contributing to the evolution of American Modernism. American Post-Impressionists: Maurice & Charles Prendergast features over 100 works, including paintings, sculptures, frames, sketchbooks, photographs, letters, and tools drawn from the permanent collection of the New Britain Museum of American Art and the Prendergast Archive & Study Center at Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MA, which houses the largest Prendergast collection in the world.

American Post-Impressionists originates with Maurice’s early works of the 1890s, executed during his studies in Paris, and follows his return in 1894 to the United States.

This exhibition explores the unique artistic rapport shared by the brothers and traces the development of their work throughout their careers as well as their involvement in major movements of 20th century art, including Post-Impressionism and the Arts and Crafts movement. Friends, collaborators, travel companions, and studio mates, Maurice and Charles encouraged and promoted each other’s work, fashioning for themselves a life of culture and opportunity, exhibiting in prestigious shows nation-wide, and establishing their positions as masters of Modern Art.

The NBMAA is located at 56 Lexington St.