New Britain Museum of American Art
museum in New Britain, Connecticut



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New Britain Museum of American Art
museum in New Britain, Connecticut
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56 Lexington St
New Britain, Connecticut
United States

More about New Britain Museum of American Art

jcappetta's picture


The New Britain Museum of American Art is a museum built on the Royal Tenenbaums vibe of fallen wealth, the kind of token declassée in the museum world.

Its collection was built out of a $25,000 dollar gift and mostly spent less than $1000 per acquisition. That's some good budgeting. It’s only dedicated to American art because at the time American art was cheaper. A wealthy widow was planning on donating a fortune, but then she lost it when the stock market crashed, so she gave them her house instead.

Speaking of the great depression, the NBMAA made headlines a few years ago when they acquired the only comprehensive collection of Pulp art in the world. So if you’re trying to see Depression-era, all-American, Nazi-bashing, violent, sexy escapism, this is the place to do it. Pulp is cool because it’s the early 20th century artists’ version of embarrassing Facebook photos. Many pulp illustrators wanted to be fine artists, but didn’t want to be flat broke, so they drew lowbrow, sensationalist, commercial art, paintings “ in which the villain captures the girl, puts his muscular hand over her mouth so she can’t scream while shooting at the police.” I'M ON THE EDGE OF MY SEAT. Other museums side with Roberta Smith, considering pulp illustration too “gaudy” and “sensationalist” to be serious. But, a masked bandit that stuffs his victims in a giant wine bottle, with yellows and blues popping out everywhere? Fine art shmime fart, I’m into it.

The Manhattan banker that initially amassed the collection described it as “hard whiskey. A punch in the face. Every painting is about death.” It’s film noir, but in color and not moving. Before the banker donated the works he warned the museum director that the content could be offensive to the puritan sensibilities of his Connecticut museum goers. The director replied that “New England ladies love sex and violence.” They need escapism just as much as the depression-era workers. This is the new depression era, a different kind of depression, but we can fix it with the same kind of cheap tricks and good art.

The NBMAA is more than just pulp though. It was founded in 1903 and was the first museum to be dedicated to strictly American art. They have lots of Hudson River School paintings, murals by Thomas Hart Benton, and American Impressionism with works by Mary Cassatt, Childe Hassam, and other heavyweights.



  1. “About.” New Britain Museum of American Art, 2018. Accessed May 7, 2018. curatorialintern. September 1, 2010. “Exhibition Tour: American Pulp Art.” New Britain Museum of American Art: Blog. Accessed May 7,
  2. McNiel, Taylor. “Hooked: One man’s determined quest to find–and frame–pulp art!” University of Chicago Magazine, May/June 2008, Vol. 100, Issue 4. Accessed May 7, 2018.
  3. “New York native Robert Lesser donates $9 million Pulp Art collection to to New Britain Museum of American Art.”, 2018. Accessed may 7, 2018.
  4. “Permanent Collection.” New Britain Museum of American Art, 2018. Accessed May 7, 2018.
  5. O’Shaughnessy, Tracey. “Hyland Fling.” Connecticut Magazine, November 2009. Accessed May 7, 2018. 5-a2552e1fcfe0.html

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Here is what Wikipedia says about New Britain Museum of American Art

The New Britain Museum of American Art is an art museum in New Britain, Connecticut. Founded in 1903, it is the first museum in the country dedicated to American art.

A total of 72,000 visits were made to the museum in the year ending June 30, 2009, and another 16,000 visits were made to the museum's satellite gallery at TheatreWorks in Hartford, Connecticut.

Walnut Hill Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, is next to the museum.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about New Britain Museum of American Art.