Believe it or not, there are nice places and activities in Worcester. Less than 10 minutes away by foot sits the Worcester Art Museum, WAM. The museum contains over 35,000 works of art, 36 galleries and a collection spanning over 5,000 years. The museum’s collection is diverse, and it contains art from all over the world. Considering WPI pays the WAM in order for students to have free admission, there is no excuse for not going.
The WAM opened its doors in 1898 due to a large donation made by Stephen Salisbury III and a group of other prominent citizens of Worcester. Salisbury III, a common name in Worcester, was also a trustee of the Worcester City Hospital and of WPI. In 1905, Salisbury died and left his personal art collection to the museum, as well as an additional $3 million. Just over a century later, the WAM has expanded, and it is now the second largest museum in New England.
The WAM contains many unique exhibits. Works from renowned artists such as van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Magritte and Warhol can be seen, among many traveling exhibits. The museum offers its share of paintings and drawings, but there is much more to see, for example: a full suit of amour, Roman pillars, Egyptian sculptures and pottery from China.
Some of the more distinctive exhibits of the WAM include a small miniatures collection, a gallery containing antique furniture and chairs and a modern art exhibit – which includes a dedication to WPI’s Robert Goddard and the iconic Warhol soup can. It even has an entire Chapter House, which was built in the 12th century then imported from France in the late 1920’s, and is entirely accessible to the public. The museum also contains one of the world’s largest collection of Paul Revere silver as well as the largest Antioch mosaic in the entire United States.
Many temporary, traveling exhibits that will later be moved to other museums can also be seen at the Worcester Arm Museum throughout the year. Currently, the museum is home to the following exhibits: Julien Hudson: Free Artist of Color in Pre-Civil War New Orleans, Art Since the Mid-20th Century, Hymn to the Earth: Photographs by Ron Rosenstock, Ladies of the House: Portrait Miniatures of Women from the Permanent Collection and Chinese Decorative Arts. Even more interestingly, since the opening of the Julien Hudson exhibit, an additional piece of art has been found.
The Ron Rosenstock exhibit includes photographs that were taken in Massachusetts, Italy and Ireland. Rosenstock is a famous Massachusetts-born artist who photographs reside in exhibits all over the state. A professor emeritus of Clark University, he currently lives in Holden, Massachusetts. His work is mainly in black and white, using infrared light in some cases. When photographing epic landscapes, he uses light contrasts to his advantage, creating some truly beautiful work. His photographs include Italian villages, a Congressionalist church from Massachusetts and landscapes and forts of Ireland. His works are not on permanent display, and will be removed on March 18th of this year.
The Worcester Art Museum is an active part of the cultural community of Worcester, hosting many events in their courtyard and throughout the rest of the museum.
Some past events have included strolling carolers, bell orchestras, a choir of students from China, WPI’s own Techicords, Celtic céilidh music and a variety of other musical events.
The WAM also hosts events for college students and professors, and even offers a varied list of art classes. Currently, the museum is offering “Third Thursdays: After Hours,” which are events that take place on the third Thursday of every month and include food, a tour and a musical performance for a minimal cost to non-members. Occasionally, the WAM hosts private events like dinners, weddings or the shooting of the film “The Maiden Heist,” starring Christopher Walken and Morgan Freeman.
A lot of enjoyment can be had in our city’s art museum, and it is free for faculty and students of local colleges. Although many students may not think that the WAM is a place that they would enjoy, there is no harm in exploring the museum.
The WAM is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but is open the rest of the week including Saturdays and Sundays. The museum also has a café and a gift shop. There is something there for everyone.