Art association

Springfield Art Association | Visitor to the capital

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Photo courtesy of the Springfield Art Association

Illinois Prairie Pastel Society Exhibition at SAA Collective Gallery

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, you are advised to check individual websites for up-to-date information and offers.

The Springfield Art Association is at the heart of Springfield’s thriving arts and culture scene. Boasting two art galleries, an art school, a historic Lincoln-era home and museum, and a calendar filled with family events, there is always something to see or do at the SAA.

For art lovers, the Springfield Art Association offers two galleries open to the public for free. The MG Nelson Family Gallery takes the pulse of contemporary art by hosting monthly exhibitions featuring local, regional and international artists. Want to see or buy what the best artistic talents in central Illinois have created? Head downtown to the SAA Collective Gallery on Fifth and Washington Streets in the historic Broadwell Pharmacy Building. The SAA collective presents the work of over 70 member artists in a variety of media, including painting, photography, ceramics, fibers and jewelry. It is the ideal place for a unique gift.

If you are looking for a unique experience, the SAA offers “One Nighters”, these one night workshops are the opportunity to do something in one night in the ceramics, metals or glass workshops of the SAA campus.

The main Springfield Art Association campus and historic Edwards Place are located at 700 N. Fourth Street. Parking is free on the adjacent lot or on the street.

The MG Nelson Family Gallery is open Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. admission is free.

Historic Edwards Place is open March through December Tuesday through Saturday with guided tours at 1 p.m. and self-guided tours from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Tours cost $ 5 per person; children 10 and under are free. Visits by appointment in January and February and Mondays all year round.

The SAA Collective Gallery is located at 105 North Fifth Street. It is open from Wednesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Visit and for more information on the Springfield Art Association, Edwards Place and all the events they offer.

Click to enlarge Springfield Art Association Paint the Street Festival, June 26

Springfield Art Association Paint the Street Festival, June 26

For history buffs, the Art Association offers the opportunity to visit historic Edwards Place. This pre-war mansion was the headquarters of the Art Association at the turn of the 20th century and has recently undergone a large-scale interior restoration to restore it to its 1850s look.

Today, visitors to Edwards Place will see the house as it was when it was owned by Benjamin S. Edwards and his family. Benjamin was the youngest son of the territorial and third governor of Illinois, Ninian Edwards. Her brother, Ninian W. Edwards, was married to Elizabeth Todd, Mary Lincoln’s older sister, making the Edwards family parents of Abraham Lincoln by marriage. The Lincolns were frequently invited to the Edwards’ elaborate dinners, parties, and picnics.

No Lincoln fanatic should leave Springfield without seeing the “backyard couch” or the “wedding piano,” both now on display in the front living room of Edwards Place. Both were originally owned by Mary Lincoln’s sister Elizabeth, with whom Mary lived before her marriage. Lincoln and Mary would sit together on the sofa while they courted and listened to Elizabeth play the piano. In 1842, the sofa and piano were silent witnesses to the Lincoln wedding ceremony, which took place in Elizabeth’s living room.

You won’t find velor ropes or designated trails at Edwards Place. On the contrary, you are invited without borders to fully explore the history and secrets of the house: fragments of original wallpaper and plaster left in place and on display, original family furniture and archaeological artefacts recovered on site. There are also regular special events designed to bring the past to life, such as Abraham Lincoln tours, afternoon tea, piano concerts, plays, and even mysterious murders.

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