Bristol Art Museum celebrates grand opening on Sunday

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After 50 years of borrowing space to host art shows, the Bristol Art Museum is celebrating the opening of its new home — the 1867 carriage house at Linden Place.

“The commitment and perseverance by a team of architects, builders, project engineer, project supervisor and board members contributed to the project to convert a historic building into a beautiful home for the arts and for the residents of the Town of Bristol and the East Bay region to enjoy, ” said Patricia Woods, chairwoman of the Bristol Art Museum board of directors.
The museum, founded by Jill Pardee, Margaret Nerone and Susan Perry, opened on June 14, 1963. Ethel Barrymore Colt Miglietta, granddaughter of Col. Samuel P. Colt and one of the heirs to the Linden Place estate, opened up the mansion’s ballroom for the museum’s art shows. The museum sponsored nine exhibits each year, between June and October, and attracted major artists such as Ansel Adams, Frank Benson, Robert Motherwell, Maxfield Parish, Norman Rockwell and local artist Richard Grosvenor.
The museum has also hosted exhibits at the Rogers Free Library over the years.
The cost to renovate the barn nearly exceeded $1 million, and was funded in part by a grant from the Champlin Foundation and donations from the general public. John Lusk and Greg Speiss were the project architects.
“The design (of the museum) creates a space for artists and the public to come together to appreciate art and enjoy a cultural experience,” Ms. Woods said.
The new space features five rental studios for artists, three of which are currently available; classrooms and a lecture hall. The first-floor gallery room will be open for art and gallery talks, as well as special events.
“The main gallery is alive with natural light from the windows, the maple floors enhance the interior space, and the preserved arched glass windows over the doors reminds us of the building’s past history for us to enjoy in the future,” she said.
The Bristol Art Museum was initially slated for a grand opening this past summer, but delays pushed the opening back to this weekend. There will be a private reception for members and donors on Saturday, followed by an open house for the public from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 8.
Then the museum will be open for tours and viewing of the art exhibit from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday to Sunday through Dec. 29. Admission is $2 for non-members. Works of art by sculptor John Udvardy of Bristol and oil paintings by Penelope Manzella of Barrington will be on display all month.
Art exhibits already scheduled for 2014 include “Recent Work,” Feb 28 to April 13; “Call to Rhode Island Artists,” May 2 to July 6; John Udvardy and Lasse Antonsen, July 18 to Aug. 31; and  “Objects for Work, Objects for Play and Objects to Cherish,” Sept. 12 to Oct. 19.

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