The Wadsworth Atheneum is the oldest public art museum in the United States, with significant holdings of French and American Impressionist paintings, Hudson River School landscapes, modernist masterpieces and contemporary works, as well as extensive holdings in early American furniture and decorative arts. It is located at 600 Main Street in a distinctive castle-like building in downtown Hartford, Connecticut, the state's capital. It easily accessible from I-91 and I-84, as well as by train. With 196,000 square feet (18,200 m2), the museum is the largest art museum in the state of Connecticut.
Since its beginning, the Wadsworth has had a long tradition of "firsts". In 1933, the Wadsworth sponsored George Balanchine's immigration to the United States from the Soviet Union. Shortly after his immigration, Balanchine formed what is now known as the New York City Ballet and chose to have his company's first performance at the Wadsworth in 1934. This is arguably the most important "first" in Wadsworth history.
The museum was the first in America to acquire pieces by Salvador Dalí, Balthus, Frederic Church, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Piet Mondrian, and many other famous artists. Under the directorship of A. Everett 'Chick' Austin, the first American exhibition of surrealism was shown at the Wadsworth in 1931, and the first major U.S. Picasso retrospective was held in 1934. Also in 1934, the World premiere of the opera Four Saints in Three Acts by Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thomson was held at the Atheneum.