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Slater Memorial Museum
In 1886 William Albert Slater, the son of a wealthy Norwich industrialist, offered to memorialize his father, John Fox Slater, with a new building at the Norwich Free Academy. He chose noted Worcester, Massachusetts architect, Stephen C. Earle, to create a distinctive design. To many, the Slater Memorial was, and remains, Earle's finest work. Its design is Romanesque Revival in what has become known as the Richardsonian Romanesque after another noted 19th century American architect, Henry Hobson Richardson. William A. Slater was educated and successful. He appreciated travel, theater, music and art and during frequent visits to France with his wife Ellen, purchased contemporary art. He sponsored the construction of Norwich’s “Broadway Theater” and numerous performances in it. At the same time, his philanthropy provided for the expansion of educational opportunities and affordable access to the arts for Norwich’s citizens. His generosity touched every resident of the city in someway. By 1888, recently appointed Norwich Free Academy Principal Robert Porter Keep convinced Slater to add to his gift of the building, funding adequate to acquire 227 plaster casts of classical and renaissance sculpture. Keep was a noted classics scholar who had lived in Greece. Almost 600 photographs of the great works of European and ancient art and architecture were then added to the plan to create a museum that would serve the students of the Norwich Free Academy and the community by exposing them to cultures and aesthetics otherwise outside their reach. The approach was one not uncommon for major museums in 19th century Western academic institutions, but unheard of in a small American city on the campus of a secondary school. Dr. Keep appointed Henry Watson Kent to be the museum’s first curator and engaged Edward Robinson, curator of antiquities at the Boston Museum of Fines Arts to select the casts and plasterer Giovanni Lugini to assemble the plaster parts into replicas of the great masterworks. To anyone else, the dismembered parts would have posed a puzzle of insurmountable proportions, but Lugini clearly assembled them accurately. He was also charged with fitting the casts with fig leaves their arrival, a practice employed in England as well. Kent was the perfect choice to lead the museum, and utilized methods still seen as valid today to engage the public in repeated visits. He organized changing exhibits and took advantage of the availability of private collections such as William and Ellen Slater’s when mounting temporary exhibits. The Slaters’ collection drew 3,000 visitors. The museum continued to collect, often purchasing from living artists as the result of temporary exhibitions and accepting gifts from generous Norwich citizens and Norwich Free Academy alumni. Thus, the museum’s holding’s grew to include a diverse array of fine and decorative art, historical artifacts and ethnographic material from five continents and 35 centuries. Over the course of more than a century, the museum has remained true to its mission as an educational resource for the Academy and the community. Successors to Mr. Kent continued to enlarge and improve the collections through purchases and donations. Its space was expanded in 1906 through a gift from Charles A. Converse for the addition of a new building with a large, airy gallery, making changing exhibits more feasible. The Slater Memorial Museum’s relationship with the Norwich Art School has, over the years, maximized the Norwich Free Academy’s ability to train young artists for professional study, while contributing to the cultural life of the greater community.
The Stonington Historical Society
Our Society is dedicated to illuminating the more than 350 years of history of the Town of Stonington, located in the southeastern corner of Connecticut. We offer here records of the lives and fortunes of colonial settlers, blockade runners, ship captains, whale hunters, patriots, explorers, artists, and writers.
Wadsworth Atheneum
The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, the oldest public art museum in the United States, was founded in 1842 by Daniel Wadsworth, one of the first important American patrons of the arts. Its collections of nearly 50,000 works of art span 5,000 years and feature the Morgan collection of Greek and Roman antiquities and European decorative arts; world-renowned baroque and surrealist paintings; an unsurpassed collection of Hudson River School landscapes; European and American Impressionist paintings; modernist masterpieces; the Serge Lifar collecton of Ballets Russes drawings and costumes; the George A. Gay collection of prints; the Wallace Nutting collection of American colonial furniture and decorative arts; the Samuel Colt firearms collection; costumes and textiles; African American art and artifacts; and contemporary art. Daniel Wadsworth planned to establish “a Gallery of Fine Arts,” but he was persuaded to establish an “atheneum,” a term used in the nineteenth-century for a cultural institution with a library, works of art and artifacts, devoted to history, literature, art and science.
Windham Textile & History Museum
The Windham Textile and History Museum (The Mill Museum of Connecticut), located in the historic former headquarters of the American Thread Company of Willimantic, Connecticut, is a non-profit educational institution housing a museum, a library, and an archive. Through its exhibits, programs, and collections, the museum preserves and interprets the history of textiles, textile arts and the textile industry, with special emphasis on the experiences of the craftspeople, industrial workers, manufacturers, inventors, designers, and consumers. The museum also promotes greater understanding of major trends and changes in technology, economy, immigration, society, environment, and culture that shaped Connecticut, New England, and the United States from the colonial period to the present., Windham Textile & History Museum

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