Mission & History
about the bennington center for the arts
The Bennington Center for the Arts is a non-profit full-spectrum art center built by local philanthropist Bruce Laumeister and wife Elizabeth Small. The doors opened in 1994 onto two gallery spaces and a 300 seat theater. Much of the artwork that that couple has collected over the years from galleries around the country hangs in the galleries and stairwells when temporary exhibits are not on display.
Paintings and bronzes of and by Native Americans dominated the collection in the beginning, along with a very large collection of Navajo rugs, pots, kachinas and jewelry but many exceptional paintings from the fifteen Art of the Animal Kingdom exhibitions have been added to that collection and are often on display as well. These include artwork by such notable artists as Bob Kuhn, Richard Schmid, Charles Frace, Carl Brenders, Morten Solberg and Manfred Schatz. In 1997 an additional two galleries and an executive boardroom were added. 2003 marked the addition of The Covered Bridge Museum, 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 workshop spaces, an artist apartment and administrative offices was officially opened.
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 Artist annual show our first fall. The organizations we have hosted include the 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. We have also exhibited a one-man show for Richard Schmid and we have curated many of our 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 our newest annual show, the Laumeister Fine Art Competition. The Center has also been the only East coast venue to host the California Art Club.
The goal of The Bennington is to bring world-class art to the residents and visitors of New England and with the support of the art community we feel we are achieving this goal.