Director’s Message

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year!

It is a relief to be able to reopen the museum today following last weekend’s unexpected closure. Thinking about the possibilities that lie ahead, I am reminded of the expression: change is the only constant. Throughout history, monumental periods of change gradually give way to countervailing pressures. Picture the forces at work on a pendulum that ultimately result in a swing in the opposite direction. While we face the challenge of yet another COVID variant, I have every confidence that we will emerge from this period like so many in the past that gave way to new advances in society. 

Our galleries reflect thousands of years of human expression, and you can see this pattern evidenced in art from every era. Stories of tragedy and triumph, love and loss, abundance and hardship are all here within our walls, and a walk through the museum reveals the relentless spirit and progress we have made—and continue to make—as a people across time. I invite you to visit in the new year, to spend some time with an old favorite, be inspired by the discovery of something new, or simply be reminded of the healing power of art.

Staying safe
Unfortunately, the new year has brought renewed COVID concerns to our state. Please know that the health and safety of our staff and visitors is our highest priority and we have made adjustments to our January schedule of events and safety protocols in recent days as we continue to monitor the situation closely. All major in-gallery gatherings and events during January, including Second Saturdays for Families and Martin Luther King Jr. Community Day, have been canceled, and the planned activities to be rescheduled over the next couple of months.

The Wadsworth will maintain its regular hours—Thursday–Sunday, noon–5pm—however, some galleries may temporarily close or attendance may be restricted to ensure room for appropriate social distancing. In addition, we will not be conducting group tours during public hours in January to avoid over-concentration in any gallery. When planning your next visit, please be sure to check our website for the most up-to-date information.

A new path forward with our Strategic Plan

For the better part of the past year, trustee and staff working groups have developed and outlined strategies and tactics that will enable us to realize the goals laid out in our new strategic plan. With the help of AMS Planning & Research, we have synthesized that work and recently engaged the entire staff in a prioritization exercise to tap into their collective expertise and help us develop a plan for implementation. As the overall planning process proceeds, we are already putting the key goals of the plan into practice, using them as a decision-making filter to evaluate new projects. You will see our work going forward address or reflect one or more of these important goals for the museum:

• Celebrate art and art-making: Care for, acquire, and share the collection in ways that reflect current and future generations.
Showcase storytelling: Illuminate relevant, compelling, human stories.
Demonstrate relevance and public-ness: Grow partnerships through relationships with Hartford’s and Connecticut’s diverse communities, to complement national and international recognition.
Animate place: Reimagine our space on Main Street to be inviting, welcoming, and vital, both in and of Hartford and accessible to all.
• Transform culture: Build an inclusive organizational culture that is active, aligned, and accountable.

Artemisia is heading to Detroit – See her this weekend before she goes

This weekend is your last chance to see By Her Hand: Artemisia Gentileschi and Women Artists in Italy 1500-1800, which will leave us, headed for Detroit, next week. We have been so pleased to see how many of you have come to engage with the exhibition. Of its many successes, it’s greatest, I believe, is illuminating how the lives, careers, and work of this group of women artists from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries has incredible relevance today.

Not only has the exhibition been especially well-received by you, it has also drawn important critical response, receiving stand-out reviews in The Boston Globe and The New York Times, to name just two. To the degree that the women artists highlighted here were written out of history, I hope this exhibition has played a small but impactful role in rewriting their contributions back into the history books. If you’ve not had an opportunity to see By Her Hand in-person or would like to see it one more time before this incredible group of artworks leave Hartford for Detroit and then back to their respective homes in public and private collections worldwide, I invite you to visit us this weekend.

A must-see exhibit at The Amistad Center

While January will be a time of transitions in the galleries, The Amistad Center for Art & Culture’s newest exhibition Changing Lanes is now on view. Drawing inspiration from Dr. Gretchen Sullivan Sorin’s book Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility in America, the exhibition explores the barriers and prejudice African Americans in Connecticut have faced in housing, education, and excessive policing, and highlights subsequent responses by activists.   Don’t miss it next time you’re in the museum—it will be on view through April 3.

Building our talented team

We could not accomplish the quantity or quality of engaging experiences we provide without our dedicated staff. Recently, Adam Lenz joined the education team as Public Engagement and Programs Manager. He joins us from the Hartt School at the University of Hartford, where he has taught music composition and multidisciplinary art and served as Director of the Hartt Studio D. Adam brings a decade of experience producing major events to the museum. Our finance department has welcomed Tracey Krasnewski as Director of Finance. Tracey joins us from the Salvation Army New England Division where for the past 18 years she has been the Assistant Director of Finance/Controller. Tracey is an active member of the museum’s senior management team and liaison to the Finance, Audit, and Investment Committees of the Board. Welcome Adam and Tracey!

There is much ahead at the Wadsworth in 2022, and we look forward to sharing it all with you. 

Best,

Jeffrey N. Brown
CEO and Director