Mission & History
about the bennington center for the arts
The Bennington Center for the Arts strives to provide fine arts, graphic arts, performing arts, and cultural arts to the residents, visitors, and students of Bennington and the surrounding area. It is a comprehensive arts center, featuring 7 galleries, art studios, a 315-seat theater, the Covered Bridge Museum, and an extensive collection of Native American and wildlife art. The Bennington Center for the Arts supports the artist community, specifically emphasizing representational art with themes rooted in the natural landscape. Its temporary exhibitions, studios, and events serve thousands of visitors each year in this world-class facility.
The Bennington Center for the Arts is a not-for-profit comprehensive center for visual and performing arts created by local philanthropist Bruce Laumeister and his wife Elizabeth Small. The doors opened in 1994 with two galleries and a 315 seat theater. In 1997 an additional two galleries and an executive boardroom were added. The Covered Bridge Museum opened in 2003, paying homage to these structures throughout recent history but specifically in Vermont where to this day there are 104 working covered bridges. In 2008 a final wing consisting of three more galleries, two artist studio spaces, an artist apartment and administrative offices officially opened.
The Bennington houses an extensive collection of fine representational art which focuses on natural history. This includes two galleries of Native American art work and artifacts, stairwells hung with Navajo weavings, an impressive collection of wildlife art and a gallery devoted to the bird carvings of Floyd Scholz. The permanent collection includes artwork by such notable artists as Charles Frace, Carl Brenders, Morten Solberg and Manfred Schatz.
Since its opening The Bennington has been very fortunate in bringing to the galleries some of the finest exhibitions in the country, starting with the Society of Animal Artists (SAA) annual show the fall of 1994. The organizations that have since been hosted by The Bennington include the American Women Artists, Plein Air Painters of America, the American Watercolor Society, the New England Watercolor Society, the Allied Artists of America, the American Academy of Women Artists, the Pastel Society of America, Arts for the Parks and additional shows by SAA. The Bennington has also exhibited a one-man show for Richard Schmid and has curated many of its own shows annually including Art of the Animal Kingdom, Impressions of New England, Artists for the New Century (with the help of Southwest Art, American Art Collector, Art of the West and Fine Art Connoisseur), American Artists Abroad and the newest annual show, the Laumeister Fine Art Competition. Additionally, the Center has been the only East coast venue to host the California Art Club.
Since the opening, the Laumeister Theater has housed an equity theater group, two Moosefest galas, annual concerts produced by the Summer Sonatina International Piano Camp, and numerous concerts from folk to jazz and classical. It is also used by the community for lectures, invocations, memorials, and conferences.
The goal of The Bennington Center for the Arts is to bring high quality art and cultural opportunities to the residents and visitors of New England.