Provincetown & the Arts
America’s oldest art colony
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.
The Birth of American Theater
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.
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.
1602: First recorded visit to Massachusetts Bay by European expedition led by Bartholomew Gosnold.
1620: Pilgrims arrive on the Mayflower, establishing the roots of democratic government in America.
1727: Provincetown is incorporated.
1899: Provincetown’s art colony is born when painter Charles Webster Hawthorne arrives.
1910: Pilgrim Monument is dedicated by President Taft.
1915: Modern American theater born in Provincetown when Eugene O’Neill debuts his first play.
1961: Creation of Cape Cod National Seashore by act of the U.S. Congress
1992: Creation of the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary by act of the U.S. Congress
2004: Gay marriage is legalized in Massachusetts; Provincetown becomes “the place to get married.”
Total area: 17.47 sq. miles
Total land area: 9.66 sq miles
Year round population: 3,500
Seasonal population 30,000
Provincetown is home to:
- America’s oldest art colony
- Legendary theater, including the birthplace of modern American theater and the contemporary Provincetown Theater featuring new & innovative productions
- Incredible dune shacks, where famous artists and writers, including Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams, sought inspiration
- Norman Mailer Writer’s Colony offering fellowship and creative writing workshops in Norman’s house where he lived for over 25 years
- Province Lands National Seashore (Cape Cod National Seashore) and some of some of America’s best beaches, bike trails, and nature walks
- 250 species of birds and water fowl making for a bird watcher’s paradise
- The Dolphin Fleet Whale Watches featuring excursions to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and incredible whale sightings.
- Old Harbor Life Saving Station at Race Point; one of 13 original life saving stations on Cape Cod and the only station where life saving history is preserved.
- The Pilgrim Monument, which commemorates the Pilgrim’s first landing, and is also America’s tallest granite structure. Visitors are able to climb to the top of the Monument for incredible views of the town and the harbor.
- Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM), which was founded in 1914 to collect, exhibit and honor the work of Provincetown’s artists. Today, it houses one of the most important 20th century American art collections and was the first LEED certified museum in the U.S.
- The Fine Arts Work Center (FAWC) where hundreds of artists participate in the renowned fellowship program and attend workshops for the visual arts and creative writing.
- The Gallery District comprising dozens of galleries featuring work by local artists
- “World famous” Commercial Street brimming with 200+ shops, restaurants, art galleries, street performers and night clubs
- Over 80 unique bed and breakfasts and hotels at all price points
- Fourth of July fireworks celebration on Provincetown Harbor
- Carnival Week in August, week-long Gay Pride celebrations and Mardi Gras parade
Source: Provincetown Tourism Office
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- The Foggy Foggy Dew
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- The 3 Mrs. Stones - The Roman Spring of Mrs.Stone
- I Can't Imagine Tomorrow with The Stronger and Come and Go
- Homage to Valeska Gert
- The Demolition Downtown/The Municipal Abaittoir
- Three More Films - The Red Devil Battery Sign, Noir et Blanc, and The Migrants
- Tennessee Rocks