The Contemporary Art Galleries You Should Visit In New Hampshire
The birthplace of the first artists’ colony in the United States, New Hampshire’s art scene continues to thrive today. From world-class art museums and established contemporary art galleries to artist collectives and university-based art venues, the Granite State caters to every taste. Here is our curated pick of the best contemporary art galleries and museums in New Hampshire.
Mill Brook Gallery and Sculpture Garden
Established in 1996, the Mill Brook Gallery and Sculpture Garden is currently home to artworks by over 70 artists mostly, but not exclusively, from the New England region. The gallery exhibits various art works, ranging from paintings, sculpture and photography to pottery and glass art. Surrounded by green fields, woodlands and ponds on the outskirts of Concord, the Mill Brook gallery aims to explore the relationship between art and nature, and organises annual outdoor sculpture exhibitions in addition to rotating exhibits every six weeks in the three indoor gallery rooms.
Part of Phillips Exeter Academy, the Lamont Gallery, also known as the Frederic R. Mayer Art Centre, is an engaging and forward-looking university gallery. The Lamont gallery exhibits nationally and internationally acclaimed artists, along with regular exhibitions of faculty and student artworks. As a teaching gallery, it explores new approaches towards art-making and interaction between different art forms, such as the representation of sport and games in visual arts or the examination of text and language as visual elements in art works. Its innovative exhibition programme is well complemented by various education outreach activities, featuring lectures, panel discussions and meetings with contemporary artists.
Gallery of New Hampshire Institute of Art, situated in Manchester, was voted the best art gallery in New Hampshire in 2013 by New Hampshire Magazine. The gallery is a mixed media space serving simultaneously as an art centre, lecture theatre and performance space for the students of the New Hampshire Institute of Art. As a local hub for aspiring artists and art lovers, it aims to inspire and provoke both students and visitors, continuously displaying a diverse range of traditional and new art forms, including photography, sculpture, painting, illustration, ceramics, installation and performance art. The gallery includes regional, national and international artists, and regularly conducts engaging lectures and presentations on various art-related topics. The gallery also frequently hosts exhibitions in the Sharon Art Centre in Peterborough allowing a wider audience to see its collection.
Any list of the best contemporary art galleries in New Hampshire would not be complete without the Currier Museum of Art. The Currier is an internationally acclaimed art museum, featuring more than 13,000 European and American art pieces, including works by Picasso, Monet, Wyeth, O’Keeffe and LeWitt. It also offers tours of the spectacular Zimmerman House, the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building open to the public in New England. However, the Currier’s contemporary art collection is the real treat, displaying works by Mark Rothko, Joan Mitchell, Neil Welliver and others. Moreover, as part of the Contemporary Connections initiative, the museum invites various contemporary artists to examine the collection and share their perspective on modern and contemporary art by featuring their art work.
McGowan Fine Art Gallery | Courtesy of McGowan Fine Art
The Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College is one of the oldest teaching museums in the country, with an extensive collection of art and historic artifacts reaching back to Assyrian culture 900 BC. However, Hood’s contemporary art collection, if lesser known, is equally impressive, featuring paintings by world-renowned artists such as Mark Rothko and Ed Ruscha. The permanent collection showcases diverse forms of contemporary art, including painting, sculpture, photography, print and new media by various artists, including Sonia Landy Sheridan, Alice Neel and Romare Bearden. Moreover, in the last few years, the Hood Museum has shown interest in contemporary art in a global context and has acquired several artworks by contemporary African and Native American artists. In order to build a comprehensive collection of African art, both past and present, the museum appointed its first African Art curator in 2013, an exciting new development for the New Hampshire art scene.
McGowan Fine Art gallery has been integral part of New England’s contemporary art scene since the 1980s, showcasing contemporary American artists in a variety of mediums and styles. Located in the historic centre of Concord city, the gallery was launched more than 30 years ago by a local silversmith and jewelry designer, Mary McGowan in order to promote local artists, who at the time were more renowned for their work outside the state than at home. Nowadays McGowan Fine Art offers distinctive selection of artworks by more than 50 established or emerging regional artists, ranging from abstract to representational art, from photography to collage, from three-dimensional pieces to jewelry.
Since 2007, Nahcotta art gallery has been home to an endearing creative venture Enormous Tiny Art, which exhibits ‘tiny’ art pieces (10″x10″ and smaller) from contemporary artists based all over the United States. The initiative aims to support emerging independent artists the world over by promoting original, small-scale works of art, and making them accessible to the general public. In addition to permanent exhibit of Enormous Tiny Art works and bi-annual in-house exhibitions of new ‘tiny’ artists in February and September, this Portsmouth gallery hosts new art show every month and offers a well-curated selection of charming design items and household accessories, including furniture, rugs, photography and local jewelry.
A fierce survivor of fire damage and a subsequent four-month closure in 2013, the Banks Gallery remains one of the leading art galleries in New England. The gallery owner and a native of New Hampshire himself, Jamie LaFleur is passionate promoter of artists who have lived and worked in New Hampshire. Based in Portsmouth, the gallery specialises in modern realism, impressionism and post modernism, representing regional and national artists alike. Alongside displaying historical art pieces, the Banks Gallery currently represents and exhibits around 20 contemporary artists who work with oil painting and sculpture.