With New York City right in our backyard, Westchesterites live near some of the greatest art in the world. But let’s make a case for another world-class museum, which just happens to be in the opposite direction. The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, in Hartford, is an excellent choice for a family, couple’s, or solo day-trip, particularly on the second Saturday of the month, when admission is free between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Driving from almost anywhere in Westchester (75 miles from Somers, 105 miles from Mount Vernon) should take no more than two hours on a Saturday, and you can usually find on-street parking within a few blocks of the museum or you can park at nearby Front Street South garage for only $3 with validation at the museum.
The museum itself is a work of art. Founded in 1842, the Wadsworth is the oldest continually-operating art museum in the U.S. (Bet you didn’t know that!) Over the years, donations from well-heeled Hartfordites, such as financier J.P. Morgan and Elizabeth Hart Jarvis Colt, the wife of firearms inventor Samuel Colt, enabled building expansion and collection growth.
What a collection the museum has — represented by American masters like Winslow Homer and Andrew Wyeth, as well as such iconic European artists as Dalí, Gauguin, Monet, Manet, Picasso, and Renoir, along with the recently authenticated Vase with Poppies, by van Gogh.
These don’t even include the extensive collection of Hudson River School paintings, which are well represented by the likes of Thomas Cole, Frederic Edwin Church, and Albert Bierstadt. The Wadsworth also holds collections of contemporary art and both American and European decorative art, as well as costumes and textiles.
After a day at the Wadsworth, you may favor renaming the city ’Artford.