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The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts
Established in 1931 the WCMFA provides a vibrant place for the presentation and exploration of art of lasting quality for the benefit of a diverse public through intentional art collecting, lively interpretation, diligent preservation and care, active educational programs, and opportunities for social interaction. The museum serves the people of Washington County and citizens from the four-state region of Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia, and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (reaccredited November 2016). Through its policy of free admission, the Museum provides access to a nationally recognized art collection of over 6,500 works of art. The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts has an enduring commitment to arts education and to providing opportunities for regional artists. The Museum actively collects works of art in the fields of American Art and world cultures.
Hagerstown native, Anna Brugh Singer, and her husband, noted American Impressionist painter, William Henry Singer, founded the WCMFA in 1931 and established the art collection by donating from their own collections of American, European, and Asian works of art. Their generosity and that of subsequent collectors established a remarkable art collection with strengths in American art, European, and international collections that reflect the founders’ cosmopolitan world view.
The Singer Memorial Gallery was recently reinterpreted (2013) to focus on the founders’ collecting and features European and American paintings and sculpture; works by contemporary American impressionists known by the Singers, including Childe Hassam and Willard Metcalf; and nineteenth-century French works, including Barbizon School paintings and sculptures by Rodin. The nearby Smith Gallery presents notable American 19th century works, including paintings from the Peale family, Benjamin West, Thomas Cole, Thomas Birch, Frederic Church and Thomas Moran, and sculpture by Paul Wayland Bartlett, Gutzon Borglum, and Casper Buberl.
Following the Singer Gallery project, the Kerstein Gallery was reinstalled (2015) and devoted to American art of the 20th century, beginning with outstanding examples of works by The Eight, including significant portraits by Robert Henri and George Luks; a still life by William Glackens; an ethereal landscape by Arthur Davies; and a John Sloan landscape. In addition to a fine representation of The Eight, the WCMFA holds other pivotal 20th-century paintings including an outstanding Edward J. Steichen landscape, Yellow Moon (1909); important mid-century works by Philip Guston and Milton Avery; a significant Gene Davis painting, representing the regional Washington Color School, and Norman Rockwell’s The Oculist. The installation also presents decorative arts including 20th-century glass, as well as sculptures by Malvina Hoffman and Reuben R. Kramer.
Development, interpretation, and care of the art collections is a central activity of the WCMFA. WCMFA focuses on collections development and care through strategic initiatives and grant awards including AAM’s Museum Assessment Program, Heritage Preservation’s Conservation Assessment Program for collections and historic building (CAP-2013), Complete Collections Inventory (IMLS-2011-2014) Collections Storage Assessment (NEH-2015). A Works on Paper Conservation Survey and Rehousing Assessment (IMLS-2016).
Changing exhibitions are developed from the museum’s permanent collection and through traveling exhibition opportunities. Three long-standing exhibitions include the juried competitions open to artists in photography and in all media and the annual exhibition of art by students in the Washington County, Maryland, public schools. The museum regularly offers art opportunities for students of all ages through tours, studio art classes, arts and cultural festivals, special events, art historical lectures, and concerts. The WCMFA is funded through support from museum memberships, annual fund donations, grants from the business and corporate communities, and support from Washington County, the City of Hagerstown, private foundations, and the Maryland State Arts Council. Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information on the Museum, please phone (301) 739-5727 or visit www.wcmfa.org
The county seat of Washington County, Hagerstown is the sixth largest city in the State of Maryland, and the largest city in the Western Maryland Region. Within the city, there are numerous parks including Hagerstown City Park, which is home to the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, the Mansion House Art Gallery, and the Hager House and Museum. Discovery Station, located downtown, is a hands-on science and technology museum featuring exhibits in numerous galleries and display areas.
Connecting the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts with the downtown Arts and Entertainment District is a newly installed City pedestrian walk and outdoor art connector, the Hagerstown Cultural Trail. The A&E District is home to the Maryland Theatre, the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, The Washington County Arts Council, and the Washington County Playhouse. The Barbara Ingram School for the Arts is a magnet school for gifted art students, located in downtown Hagerstown’s arts and entertainment district.
Downtown Hagerstown has enjoyed a resurgence and now hosts several popular annual events. The City draws thousands every year to the Western Maryland Blues Fest, which showcases blues artists from around the country. The local Maryland Entertainment Group, Potomac Playmakers, and several dance schools add to the performing arts scene in Hagerstown.
Hagerstown Community College also supports a lively arts community through its Humanities area, including visual and performing arts. Performing in the new Kepler Theatre on campus is the Hub City Opera Company.