Home for the Museum since 1916, the Griswold House is a National Historic Landmark and an Official Project of Save America’s Treasures. Designed in 1862 by famed architect Richard Morris Hunt, it was completed in 1864 for John N.A. Griswold, a China Trade merchant and financier. Griswold House was Hunt’s first major commission in Newport and is the premier example of American Stick Style architecture. Hunt went on to design many of the grand cottages of Newport’s Gilded Age, including The Breakers, Marble House, and Ochre Court. The Griswold House currently houses restored rooms, galleries, a children’s art classroom, administrative offices, a lecture hall, and the Griffon Shop. The surrounding park and sculpture garden is used for many outdoor programs during the summer months.
Cushing Memorial Gallery
Designed by William Adams Delano, the Cushing Gallery opened in 1920 as a memorial to artist Howard Gardiner Cushing, one of the early members and most prominent supporters of the Art Association. Carrying on the American Renaissance style of the late nineteenth century, the quiet classical details of the Cushing Gallery contrast with the slate roof, gables, and cross pieces of Griswold House. The Gallery was enlarged in 1991 with the addition of the Nathalie Bailey Morris Gallery, the Sarah Rives Lobby, and state-of-the-art collections storage, enabling the Museum to expand and upgrade its collections and exhibitions, and to borrow important pieces from major museums across the country.
Gilbert S. Kahn Building
Opened in 1998, the Gilbert S. Kahn Building houses the Museum’s art school, The Minnie and Jimmy Coleman Center for Creative Studies. A variety of course offerings and workshops taught by professional artist instructors is available to students of all ages throughout the year. The Kahn Building offers two painting and drawing studios, a printmaking studio, a digital photography and design studio featuring Apple iMac workstations and a ceramics studio with two electric kilns and nine potter’s wheels, including one that is wheelchair accessible. Through the art school’s outreach programs, the Museum collaborates with numerous social service agencies, working to provide art education opportunities for all populations.
How It Began
In the summer of 1912, a group of artists and intellectuals led by Maud Howe Elliott, Boston-born activist and Pulitzer-Prize-winning author, banded together to form the Art Association of Newport for the purpose of promoting and exhibiting fine arts and fostering arts education within the community. The other founders were Charles Biesel, John Elliott, Albert Sterner, William Sergeant Kendall, and Louisa and Helena Sturtevant. Barely a month after its creation, the Association staged its first exhibition, which included contributions from within the group and renowned artists such as George Bellows, Mary Cassatt, John White Alexander, Childe Hassam, and Arthur B. Davies. In 1915, prominent scultptress and arts patron Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney exhibited her works and joined the Association Council.
Today, the legacy of these early artists is the Newport Art Museum and Art Association, a community arts center that provides the region with numerous art classes, exhibitions, and cultural events. Open to the public throughout the year, the Museum collects, preserves, exhibits and interprets contemporary and historic works emphasizing the pivotal role played by Newport and New England artists in the development of American art, and operates a state-of-the-art institutional facility with art courses and workshops in a variety of media.
The Museum’s collections and exhibitions focus on the visual artists of Newport and southeastern New England, reflecting both the rich heritage of the past and the lively art scene of the present. The collections feature works by Fitz Henry Lane, George Inness, William Trost Richards, John Fredrick Kensett, John La Farge, Gilbert Stuart, Helene Sturtevant, and Catharine Morris Wright. Contemporary artists represented in the collection include Dale Chihuly, Howard Ben Tre, Robert Hamita, James Baker, and Joseph Norman.
The Museum organizes special exhibitions drawn from the permanent collection, the holdings of other museums and private collections. These exhibitions bring to Newport a wide variety of themes and styles, often accompanied by special programs. The Museum provides local and regional artists with opportunities to exhibit their works in the Newport Annual, and various other venues throughout the year.