For more than five decades the Washington Art Association & Gallery has drawn the aesthetically curious to view, learn about, create, and exhibit art. Since its founding in 1952 by Margaret Train Samsanoff and a small group of local artists and patrons, the Association has attracted full-time residents, weekenders, and visitors from both near and far.
The Association began as a summer endeavor and staged its first exhibition in July of 1952 in the former R.J. Benham drugstore. In 1954, the Association established what must have seemed like a permanent home in the former Washington Depot post office. The following year, however, the flood of 1955 destroyed the structure prompting the Association to purchase a small brick building on the banks of the Shepaug River, move it to the newly reconstructed Bryan Memorial Plaza, and attach it to a group of milk sheds.
Following two years of construction and renovations the Association’s current quarters opened in 1957 when year-round exhibitions and classes were added. The Association’s space in Bryan Plaza quickly became an integral part of Litchfield County’s cultural life. Unusually innovative exhibitions were staged in the 1960s and 1970s, including shows of collected works by Matisse, Renoir, Michelangelo, Leger, and Miro.
In 1983 the gallery space was enlarged and a multipurpose studio space was added allowing for expanded art instruction activities. A rich offering of on-site classes and workshops was initiated and off-site instruction programs, including the provision of visiting arts instructors to local schools, were established. The Association’s larger space also allowed for more ambitious exhibitions and greater educational offerings.
Today the Washington Art Association & Gallery continues its mission of promoting greater understanding and appreciation of art and encouraging the creation and presentation of art.
We are looking forward to rejuvenating this landmark of Litchfield County by giving the building some much-needed attention as well as continuing to bring innovative exhibitions by both emerging and established artists.