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Home » ARTS AND CULTURE » MASSACHUSETTS » A First Rate Museum with a Strong Community Focus
“Blossom Restaurant, 103 Bowery” by Berenice Abbott
A First Rate Museum with a Strong Community Focus

Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, MA

By Peter F. Demers | February 14, 2012

While most people usually think of Boston as the cultural center of the region, many residents and visitors never realize that there are the many truly exciting cultural treasures outside the greater Boston area.

Woman on Horseback - Tang Dynasty

One such treasure is the Fitchburg Art Museum.   It is located in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, a small city of approximately 39,000 people located in north-central Worcester County along the Nashua River, and a short distance off Routes 2 and I-190.

Founded in 1925 by Fitchburg artist and collector, Eleanor Norcross, the museum comprises over 20,000 square feet of gallery and educational workshop space, including the historic “Cross Barn” built in 1883.

There are twelve permanent galleries that in addition to featuring art from America and Europe, display works from African, Greek, Roman, Asian, and Pre-Colombian cultures.

In 1995 the museum, in collaboration with the Fitchburg Public Schools, created a unique school in which all subjects in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks are taught in the museum’s galleries through the study of collection objects and the pursuit of studio art activities.

Dedicated in 2000 as the Museum Partnership School, and a Focus School of the Lincoln Center Institute, New York City, the school is an integral part of the museum.

Like many quality museums, the Fitchburg Art Museum regularly schedules special exhibitions of either newly acquired works or works on loan from other museums or private collections.

From January 22 through March 18, 2012, the museum is hosting two such exhibitions.

Treasures from the Sackler Foundation features more than eighty objects from the world-renowned collection of Arthur M. Sackler. Artifacts include vessels from Iron-Age Iran, and bowls, jars, and figures from China, Korea and Thailand.

“The Steerage” (1907) by Alfred Stieglitz

“For more than 5,000 years, the ceramics of ancient Iran and South Asian produced beautiful, technically sophisticated, and often amusing works of art, thus establishing truly one of the most unique and under-recognized ceramic traditions of the ancient world,” says Jerry Beck, the museum’s Director of Marketing and Community Engagement.

The other exhibition is Pioneers in American 20th Century Photography, which features early 20th Century American photography from the Fitchburg Art Museum’s collection.   Its centerpiece is the Alfred Stieglitz image, The Steerage (1907), which shows people traveling in the lower-class section of a steamer going from New York back to Europe.

Stieglitz’s photograph is printed on Japanese tissue paper, one of only eight of its kind known to exist, and is seen as one of the greatest photographs ever taken.   Why?

“Because it captures in a single image both a formative document of its time, and one of the first works of artistic modernism,” says Beck.

Pioneers includes other important photographs, such as Berenice Abbott’s Blossom Restaurant, 103 Bowery, and Arthur Rothstein’s Dust Storm, Cimarron Country, Oklahoma, picturing dust bowl conditions in 1936 America.

The Fitchburg Art Museum also offers a range of regularly scheduled classes and events for adults and children, including activities as diverse as yoga, oil painting and basic drawing for children and adults.


Fitchburg Art Museum

25 Merriam Parkway, Fitchburg, MA 01420

(978) 345-4207


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