While seeing a play or concert in Hartford’s historic venue, look up to admire one of the largest ceiling murals in the United States.
If you are in Connecticut and want to see a show, you will likely find yourself at Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts. “The Bushnell,” as it is commonly called, has been a destination for theater and music since the early 20th century.
Mortensen Hall, the original theater building, was built in 1930 in honor of Horace Bushnell, a local minister who created a lasting legacy of parks throughout Hartford. Spot similarities to features of Radio City Music Hall, the so-called “Showplace of the Nation” in New York City. The same architects are responsible for Mortensen Hall.
Look up as you walk into Mortensen Hall. Drama, one of the largest ceiling murals in the United States, spans the heights of the theater. The Muse of Drama is the mural’s centerpiece. Mythological figures surround her feet while symbols of the modern era soar above her.
In 2002, the Bushnell expanded with the 906-seat Belding Theater, named for longtime supporter Maxwell Belding. Note the ceiling mural here, which pays homage to Mortensen Hall’s celestial motifs with a modern interpretation.
Go to the glass-enclosed Autorino Great Hall just outside the Belding Theater. Your eyes will immediately be drawn to Ode to Joy, Dale Chihuly’s wild glass sculpture that dominates the space.
The Bushnell attracts world-class performers from all realms of entertainment. It has hosted legendary late-night comedian Jay Leno, the Broadway musical Wicked and the dancers from the Alvin Ailey troupe. Enjoy the classical music of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, the Bushnell’s primary tenant.
Purchase tickets online, by phone or at the box office. Some shows, like the holiday Nutcracker, sell out quickly so you should purchase your tickets well in advance. Others may be available on the day of the performance. Ticket prices vary depending on the show.
The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts is located in the heart of downtown Hartford. Choose from many eating and dining options within a short walking distance. You can easily find city parking nearby or pay for a valet service during evening performances.