Located 120 miles from Boston along the National Seashore on the outer most tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown is a year-round destination with a fascinating history and extraordinary qualities. From incredible beaches and boundless natural beauty to an eclectic arts and culture scene and world-class dining and shopping, Provincetown offers something for each of the diverse visitors it hosts throughout the year.
Provincetown’s celebrated reputation as the nation’s oldest art colony began when painter Charles Webster Hawthorne arrived in Provincetown in 1899. Shortly thereafter, he founded the Cape Cod School of Art, where he taught painting for the following 30 summers. Prominent art students and teachers were also drawn to Provincetown for the beautiful light, natural landscapes and rustic
scenes. They followed Hawthorne to Provincetown, eventually establishing their own schools. The new art schools and art movements spawned a year-round arts community of young, aspiring artists working under the watchful eyes of established mentors and teachers. In 1916, The Boston Globe ran a front-page story titled, “Biggest Art Colony in the World in Provincetown.” Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline, Mark Rothko, Blanche Lazzell, Milton Avery, Jack Tworkov and Edward Hopper were simply a handful of well-known artists with ties to Provincetown.
Provincetown is also associated with the birth of modern American theater. Eugene O’Neill, considered the father of modern American theater, mounted his first play on an East End Provincetown wharf in 1915. Today, the tradition is carried on at Provincetown Theater, the well-known venue featuring The New Provincetown Players theater company. Writers like John Dos Passos, Weldon Kees, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer and Michael Cunningham found inspiration in Provincetown. Many actors and musicians, including Billie Holiday, Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Richard Gere, Julius Monk, and Barbra Streisand, spent their early years performing on Provincetown stages.
Today, Provincetown remains a haven for artists in every medium – painting, sculpting, theatre, writing, and music. The vibrant arts community, atmosphere of experimentation, vast teaching and learning opportunities, and palpable energy draw artists year after year to share and deepen their talents.
Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM)
Founded in 1914 by a group of artists, including Hawthorne, to collect, exhibit and honor the work of Provincetown’s growing arts colony. Today, PAAM houses one of the most important 20th century American art collections, including Hawthorne’s “His First Voyage,” and white-line woodblock prints known as the Provincetown Print developed by B.J.O. Nordfeldt and his followers. PAAM is also the country’s first green art museum as well as a learning center providing affordable arts instruction, an association for professional artists, a research center and venue for film screenings, concerts, auctions and lectures. (www.paam.org)
Fine Arts Work Center (FAWC)
In addition to its renowned Fellowship Program for emerging artists and writers, FAWC offers summer workshops in creative writing and visual arts, year-round readings, free, public lectures and gallery shows, and Cape Cod’s only MFA in visual arts in collaboration with the Massachusetts College of Arts. FAWC is located on Pearl Street in historic studio space once occupied by Hans Hofmann, Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler, and many other iconic figures in the annals of Provincetown arts. (www.fawc.org)
Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum (PMPM)
Although the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum is not an art museum in the traditional sense, the permanent collection includes some extraordinary artwork and tells the history of Provincetown’s art colony. On display are several monumental paintings from the Town of Provincetown Art Collection, including Charles Hawthorne’s masterpiece, “The Crew of the Philomena Manta.” Other permanent and changing exhibits feature the development of the theater, whaling, maritime and fishing industries in Provincetown from the arrival of the Mayflower Pilgrims to the present day. (www.pilgrim-monument.org)
Continues the legacy of Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams by mounting plays and musicals of established and emerging American playwrights. (www.provincetowntheater.com)
Commercial Street is lined with privately owned art galleries, which host Gallery Strolls every Friday night during the summer. These festive open houses allow arts enthusiasts to browse and meet local and visiting artists and gallery owners. (www.provincetowngalleryguide.com)