The St. Johnsbury Athenaeum is a private, nonprofit public library and art gallery located in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Built as a public library and presented to the town of St. Johnsbury in 1871 by Horace Fairbanks, a small art gallery was added to the facility two years later. Now the oldest art gallery still in its original form in the United States, the Athenaeum was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1996 by the Department of the Interior.
When the art gallery was built it contained approximately fifty paintings and a few marble sculptures. Gifts from the donor’s private collection and work donated by members of his family have since increased the collection to one hundred pieces. The major part of the collection is by American and European artists from the late eighteenth century to the middle nineteenth century.
The Hudson River School is strongly represented in the Athenaeum by artists as Asher B. Durand, Jasper Cropsey, Sanford Gifford, James and William Hart, along with western views by Samuel Colman and Worthington Whittredge. Dominating the gallery from its inception has been the large canvas, ten feet by fifteen feet, of the Domes of the Yosemite, by Albert Bierstadt. (KCE)
St. Johnsbury Athenaeum Information
- Public Transportation: Fair (a short walk from the RCT Jay-Lyn Shuttle at the St. Johnsbury House
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good
- Hours: Monday–Friday 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Saturday 9:30 a.m.–3 p.m. Closed Sundays and major holidays
- Admission: $8 Adults; Free for Children (12 & under), St. Johnsbury residents, and members
- Tour: Free docent-led tours are available Monday–Saturday and last approximately 30 minutes. Group tours for all age groups can be arranged. Guided tours for out-of-town elementary, high school, and college groups are also available for a fee
- Membership: Library Membership – St. Johnsbury residents are eligible for a free library card. Non-residents may purchase a one-year library card with full Athenaeum privileges, including free admission to the Art Gallery, for $13.70. Friends of the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum (True Friend–$10; Devoted Friend–$20; Best Friend–$25+). The Annual Fund – donations of any amount are greatly appreciated (donations from non-residents of St. Johnsbury of $25 or more include a one-year library membership).