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For half a century it had to use borrowed space to stage art exhibitions. Then, in 2013, after five years of planning and construction - The Bristol Art Museum finally got a building to call its own. Along the way it has evolved into an emerging cultural arts center: offering art classes, Shakespeare readings, special programs - and a place for artists near and far to showcase their work.
For more information about the Bristol Art Museum, click here.
Downtown Bristol is about as close to Main Street USA as you’ll ever get. And for two centuries Linden Place has been the centerpiece of grandeur and history in the heart of Hope Street.
But it is the building on a side street adjacent to Linden Place that is beginning to draw Bristolians and out-of-town visitors alike: Three years ago the Bristol Art Museum got its own permanent space from Linden Place and is gradually growing into more than a museum.
Antinucci: ``I think our interest now is not so much exhibits but reaching out to the community.’’
Janice Antinucci grew up in Bristol, returns here every summer, and is an artist herself. And she sits on the museum’s board of directors.
Antinucci: ``This is called the Bristol Art Museum. I wanted to see it become something larger than that. We’re becoming more of an cultural arts center.’’
For 50 years the museum borrowed the ballroom next door to the main Linden Place building to host art exhibits.
Woods: ``It was established as a museum they only really used it from May through October and they had exhibits from spring to fall.’’
Patricia Woods, whose father helped found the museum in 1963, is also on the board. She and her husband came back to Bristol full-time in 2007 after years of living in New York. In 2008 the museum got an opportunity to take over the old barn behind Linden Place that had largely been used for storage and housed the Linden Place staff back in the day. The first phase of renovations began in 2011 and the gallery opened in late 2013.
Woods: ``Our vision at the time was to definitely keep this building, which is really lovely, keep all the architectural features of it, but then at the same time try to make the museum come alive and offer a more contemporary look.’’
John Lusk, who has offices in Bristol and New York, was the project architect and provided us an assortment of before-and-after pictures of the renovation.
Those who saw the before have an appreciation for what the museum has evolved into - a main gallery where rotating exhibits are on display, including one we saw last spring called the `Joy of Art.’
A key to the building’s renovation was getting permission to break through the wall on Wardwell Street and create a main entrance that now has a mahogany door leading leads right into the first-floor gallery.