The Wadsworth Atheneum is the oldest continuously operating public museum in the United States. It was founded in 1842 by Daniel Wadsworth, one of the first art patrons in this country. Upon a strong base of American painting, the museum has continued to expand its collection so that it now comprises 50,000 works from 5,000 years of drawings, paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts.
Beginning in 1927, with the appointment of A. Everett Austin, Jr., as director, the museum has concentrated on augmenting is collection of European paintings and, especially, significant work by leading modern artists. In the 1930s it presented America's first Surrealist show and its first comprehensive Picasso retrospective. Today the Wadsworth has strong examples of work by contemporary artists and movements including Abstract Expressionism, Color Field painting, Pop art, and Conceptual art.