Exhibit celebrates the hidden art of the Concord Library

By Betsy Levinson betsy@theconcordbridge.org
March 31, 2023

It’s likely that if you’ve spent time at the Concord Free Public Library, you’ve passed by the artwork with little notice on your way to the reading room or the shelves.

But a new exhibit at the Concord Museum is displaying dozens of paintings and sculptures, some of which have not been shown for almost a century, in its new exhibit: A Perpetual Invitation: 150 Years of Art at the Concord Free Public Library co-curated by the museum staff and the library’s Special Collections Director Anke Voss. 

“We’re excited and honored to collaborate with the library to share this important collection and learn more about Concord’s community of artists,” said Executive Director Lisa Krassner.

Museum curator Reed Gochberg said the two upper-floor galleries making up the exhibit are divided into European-focused art, and works by and with a Concord focus.

The library was built by William Munroe in 1873 as an art museum and library “with the goal of creating a public space where Concord residents could experience art and culture,” noted museum public relations and communications Director Barbara Evangelista.

“We are delighted to be partnering with the Concord Museum to highlight the art from the library’s Special Collections,” said library corporation President Sherry Litwack.

One marble bust is of Munroe carved by Thomas Ridgeway Gould in 1874. There is also a well known bust of Nathaniel Hawthorne by Maria Louisa Lander and another of Henry David Thoreau by Louis Mayer. 

Artist Charles Hovey Pepper’s watercolor Snow in Fairyland is featured, along with works not seen since 1930 include a set of paintings on porcelain plaques that were made in Austria and Germany. Another noted painting is The Carpenters Repairing Hubbard’s Bridge by N. C. Wyeth, donated to the library by the Wheeler family in memory of Caleb Wheeler who was killed in World War II.

Women artists including May Alcott Nieriker, Alicia Keyes and Elizabeth Wentworth Roberts provide a window into the importance of women in 19th century Concord history. Roberts founded the Concord Art Association with another artist, Charles Hovey Petter who has a beautiful painting, Snow in Fairyland, a gift of the artist in 1947.

The exhibit is up until Labor Day.