Founded in 1842 in Hartford, Connecticut, the Wadsworth Atheneum is the oldest continually operating public museum in the US. Recently, beset by debt and crumbling infrastructure, it flirted with losing that title. Under director Susan Talbott, it has pulled itself back from the brink.
Talbott presides over a collection that ranges from the decorative arts to old masters and the Hudson River School, from impressionism to most of modernism and the sometimes still shockingly new. This weekend, the museum celebrates something very new indeed: the completion of phase one of renovations which will increase gallery space by 27%, or 16,000 square feet.
To celebrate, the museum is reopening its galleries of postwar and contemporary American art and cutting the ribbon on a major exhibition – Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland. There is also Sideshow, a droll and uncanny