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Puppet character "Tiger Andros" from the American Puppet Theater production of Charter Oak
"Tiger Andros," a Bengal tiger version of Major Edmund Andros, the who was sent by King James II to take back the Connecticut Charter and the state's right to govern itself. Photo courtesy of The American Puppet Theater

Legacy of the Creative Spirit

The Connecticut creative spirit is exemplified in the state's Wadsworth Atheneum, St. Joseph College and American Puppet Theater.

Consisting of five buildings, the oldest dating back to 1842, all devoted to art exhibition, the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford is America's oldest continuously operating public art museum. The Wadsworth has been an innovator among art institutions, having presented America's first comprehensive museum exhibitions of Pablo Picasso, surrealism, Italian Baroque painting, and Pieter de Hooch; the first film retrospective in an American museum; the premiere of the Gertrude Stein/Virgil Thomson opera, Four Saints in Three Acts, with the first all-black cast in an American opera; and the first public performances of choreographer George Balanchine's ballet company, which became the New York City Ballet. It was the first museum to acquire works by such artists as Salvador Dali, Joan Miro, and Piet Mondrian, and developed the nationally influential MATRIX program of changing exhibitions of contemporary art, which has thus far presented 139 artists.

Built around paintings and prints donated in 1937 by Rev. Andew J. Kelly, the seed collection of Saint Joseph's College in West Hartford represents the most important trends in American art during the 20s and 30s. The collection includes works by Milton Avery, Thomas Hart Benton, and Georgia O'Keefe. Additional donations in 1966 consisted mostly of etchings, engravings, lithographs, and relief prints dating from the fifteenth century to the early twentieth century. Included are prints by Durer, Rembrandt, Whistler, Bellows, Homer, Hassam, Cassatt and the Japanese masters of Ukiyo-e. Rounding out the collections of the Art Study Gallery of St. Joseph's College, recent works represent new techniques and trends in 20th-century printmaking.

The American Puppet Theater was founded in 1996 as a vehicle to share the great stories of Connecticut and American history. The first production of the 2000 season is The Legend of Charter Oak, a 30-minute puppet production that shares the great Connecticut legend. Productions are held at the Old State House in Hartford. At the dawn of the new millennium, the Old State House continues its role as storyteller of Connecticut's stories, a tapestry of generations of oral tradition, historical fact and cultural issues. The Old State House is the only museum in the country to use puppets as an integral part of its education program.

Project documentation includes a book, "The Spirit of Genius": Art at the Wadsworth Atheneum; brochures; and newspaper articles.

Originally submitted by: John B. Larson, Representative (1st District).



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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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