About the Museum
The New Britain Museum of American Art’s founding in 1903 entitles the institution to be designated the first museum of strictly American art in the country. That year, a $20,000 gift of gold bonds to the museum’s former parent, the New Britain Institute, from industrialist John Butler Talcott, created funds to purchase ”modern oil paintings.” Subsequent purchases, with advice from New York museums and galleries, further defined ”modern” to mean American works of art, now numbering more than 8,300.
With particular strengths in colonial portraiture, the Hudson River School, American Impressionism, and the Ash Can School, not to mention the important mural series The Arts of Life in America by Thomas Hart Benton, the museum relies heavily on its permanent collection for exhibitions and programming, yet also displays a significant number of borrowed shows and work by emerging artists. The singular focus on American art and its panoramic view of American artistic achievement make the New Britain Museum of American Art a significant teaching resource available to the local, regional, and national public.