Galleries Galore

  • Visit North Central

Take a World Tour in Local Museums

Visitors from around the world are finding their way to Clinton these days. This quiet town — once known for the products of the Bigelow Carpet Company and other textile mills — might seem an unlikely place to find one of the world’s most extensive private collections of Russian icons.

But amid the town’s old brick mills, the Museum of Russian Icons is home to some 400 works spanning six centuries.

Icons — religious images painted on wood and metal — were banned in the Soviet Union. But during that era, Clinton industrialist Gordon Lankton became intrigued by icons and began collecting them while travelling in that region. Over time, he developed a significant collection, and in 2006, he converted a former mill building into a stunning museum in which to display them.

Since then, the museum on Union Street has been visited by Russian dignitaries, has been consecrated by a Russian Orthodox priest, and has sent a collection of icons out on a three-year nationwide tour. And beyond the extraordinary art on the walls, this environmentally-conscious museum has brought Russian music, and even Russian language lessons, to the community.
Around the World

A short walk from the icon museum, Lankton also created a Gallery of African Art, again bringing the world to this region. Here, you’ll see a diverse collection of more than 600 African tribal masks, figures, sculpture and artifacts crafted in stone, wood, clay and bronze, spanning 32 tribes, including Dogon, Baule, and Bamana art. Admission is free (donations accepted) and from 4 to 7 pm on Thursdays, guided tours are offered. Keep on eye on the gallery website for programs like drumming classes and other special events.

For art with roots a little closer to home, consider a visit to Fruitlands Museums in Harvard, where you’ll find New England portraits, Hudson River School landscapes and Native American art, along with changing exhibitions throughout the year.

And in Fitchburg, summer means a really close-to-home art experience, when the Fitchburg Art Museum opens its annual Regional Exhibition of Art and Craft. Artists from a 25-mile radius are spotlighted in this juried exhibition that has been a Fitchburg staple nearly eight decades.
Located just a block off Fitchburg’s Main Street, the Fitchburg Art Museum is also home to an extensive collection of American and European paintings and sculpture, art from China and Asia — and a family-friendly exhibition of Egyptian art and artifacts.

Love art? You can take a world tour of the art world, right here in Johnny’s backyard!