Providence Arts & Cultural Trail

Rhode Island's capital city of Providence offers a rich cultural and architectural heritage that stretches back to 1636 when it was founded by Roger Williams. In recent years its amazingly diverse treasures have been discovered by more and more visitors. That's no surprise, considering it has one of the largest and most diverse concentrations of preserved architecture and landmarks in America, a nationally recognized restaurant scene, a vibrant art community, world-class museums, top-notch theatre, great shopping and much more. In recent years, Water Place Park and River Walk, home to the acclaimed WaterFire, have come to symbolize the city's rebirth.

The Providence Arts & Cultural Trail is so filled with enriching things to do and see that you'll be busy day and night. You'll visit museums and galleries with works by old masters, Impressionists and contemporary artists. See our stages light up with a full calendar of exciting theatre, music and dance. Explore an 18th-century Athenaeum where Edgar Allen Poe and Sarah Whitman courted. It's a trail that you never want to end.

Providence Performing Arts Center
Historic landmark theater built in 1928 as a Loew's Movie Palace. Rhode Island's home for Broadway productions, children's shows and other popular entertainment. Free theater organ concerts spring and fall. Big screen movie series. Box office, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday, 12 p.m.-5 p.m. 220 Weybosset Street, Providence; 401-421-2787; www.ppacri.org

Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC)

Rhode Island Black Heritage Society
"Creative Survival," permanent walkthough museum of 19th-century black life in Providence. Periodic displays of black history and culture. Archives and gallery. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.; by appointment. 65 Weybosset Street, Providence; 401-751-3490; www.rihs.org/

Rhode Island School of Design's Woods-Gerry Gallery
The gallery, which is open to the public, features student and faculty work in ever-changing exhibitions. It is located in the Woods-Gerry Mansion, a three-story house designed by Richard Upjohn in 1860. The house is an important example of the city's 19th-century residential architecture and houses RISD's administrative and admission offices. Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.-5 p.m. 62 Prospect Street, Providence; 401-454-6142; www.risd.edu

The RISD Museum
The RISD Museum was founded as part of the Rhode Island School of Design in 1877. Today, its permanent collection consists of more than 86,000 works of art from diverse periods, cultures and genre. Located on the edge of downtown Providence, the museum showcases an array of ever-changing exhibitions, which encompass a range of areas and periods of world culture and offers a wide variety of public programming. Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; third Thursday of the month, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. 224 Benefit Street, Providence; 401-454-6500; risdmuseum.org/

Rhode Island School of Design's Woods-Gerry Gallery

Rhode Island College
Established in 1854 as the Rhode Island Normal School, RIC is the state's oldest public institution of higher learning. Serving nearly 10,000 students, it is a comprehensive college offering a variety of liberal arts and professional programs for both undergraduate and graduate students. Performing and fine arts programs include world-renowned entertainers in music, theater, dance and the fine arts. 600 Mount Pleasant Avenue, Providence; 401-456-8000, 800-669-5760;www.ric.edu/pfa

Trinity Repertory Company
Award-winning classical and contemporary theatrical productions. Performances Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m. & Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. 201 Washington Street, Providence; 401-351-4242; www.trinityrep.com

Trinity Repertory Company

VMA Arts & Cultural Center
Built in 1928, the auditorium is among the oldest arts venues in Rhode Island. Completely restored in 1990, the ornately designed 2,100-seat concert hall houses the largest theater stage in Rhode Island and features a gilded proscenium arch, allegorical and heraldic ceiling murals and the finest acoustics in the region. VMA hosts the most diverse audience in the state through a broad range of events each season, VMA offers a variety of performances, rehearsals, exhibitions, educational offerings, meetings and special event opportunities. Avenue of the Arts, Providence; 401-222-1467, 800-919-6272; www.vmari.com

David Winton Bell Gallery, Brown University
Located in the List Art Center, an imposing modern structure designed by Philip Johnson, the gallery presents exhibitions of contemporary art in all media. Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 1 p.m.-4 p.m. 64 College Street, Providence; 401-863-2932; www.brown.edu/bellgallery

Providence Art Club
Nation's second-oldest art club, founded in 1880. Clubhouse and galleries in two Colonial buildings. Features changing exhibits monthly. Monday-Friday, 12 p.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 2 p.m.-4 p.m.; Dodge House, Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday, 2 p.m.-4 p.m. 11 Thomas Street, Providence; 401-331-1114; www.providenceartclub.org

Providence Athenaeum
One of America's oldest subscription libraries (1753) and cultural centers. Housed in a granite Greek Revival structure designed by William Strickland of Philadelphia, with additions by Norman Isham and Warren Platner. Stephen Hopkins, Moses Brown and Silas Downer (who served as a librarian) were all active in the library in the 18th century. Legend has it that in the 19th century, Edgar Allan Poe and Sarah Whitman carried on their courtship here. Changing exhibitions of rare books and local artists works are on display in the Charles and Deborah Philbrick Rare Book Library. Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Summer Saturday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. 251 Benefit Street, Providence; 401-421-6970; www.providenceathenaeum.org

Area Map

Trail Information

Providence Visitor Information Center
RI Convention Center Rotunda
1 Sabin St.
Providence, Rhode Island

Shutterbug

Great spots for snapshots.

  • Prospect Terrace - best view for overlooking the Providence skyline
  • Benefit Street mile of history - some of the area's best historic architecture, church steeples and colonial homes
Off the Trail

Great side trips for outdoor fun:

  • Gondola Ride at Waterplace Park offering spectacular views of the city's architecture along the waterfront
  • River Walk - cobblestone walkway leads from Waterplace Park along river with Venetian-style footbridges
Arts & Antiques

Side trips for that one-of-a-kind find:

  • Providence Art Club - nation's second-oldest art club, featuring changing exhibits monthly
  • Wickenden St. area - concentration of art galleries and antique shops.
Taste Buds

Tasty tips along the trail.

  • Local favorites: Olneyville New York System hot wieners
  • Famous for: Nationally acclaimed restaurant scene. Fine dining at its best. Also, Federal Hill - Providence's Little Italy offers great restaurants, bakeries, cookery and delis.
Shopping Bag

Here are some tips on shopping along the trail.

  • Providence Place Mall - over 150 upscale stores and restaurants.
  • The Arcade - 1828 landmark is oldest indoor shopping center in the country
Trail Mix

Did you know.

  • Alex and Ani Skating Center is twice the size of Rockefeller Center - www.providenceskating.com
  • Providence is home to more artists per capita than any other city in the country
Curtain Call

Top off the day with an outstanding performance along the trail:

  • Trinity Repertory Theatre - Award-winning classical and contemporary theater. www.trinityrep.com
  • Providence Performing Arts Center - Rhode Island's home for Broadway productions. www.ppacri.com
  • Perishable Theater - New plays, performance art, children's shows, theater-art school and late-night programs. www.perishable.org
  • AS220 - Provides performance space, studio space and display space for aspiring artists. www.as220.org
  • NewGate Theatre - Intimate loft theater with performances ranging from cutting-edge plays to classical dramas. www.newgatetheatre.org
Learning Curve

Learn more about Providence at:

  • Providence Athenaeum - One of America's oldest subscription libraries and cultural centers. (Edgar Allen Poe and Sarah Whitman courted here) www.providenceathenaeum.org
  • Roger Williams National Memorial - RI's only national park interprets the life and times of Roger Williams - the founder of the first government in the world with complete religious freedom. www.nps.gov/rowi/index.htm
  • RI Historical Society Library - Extensive collection of materials relating to Rhode Island history. www.rihs.org
 

 

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