About the Warwick Center for the Arts (WCFA)
To connect people of all ages and abilities to a variety of affordable arts and cultural experiences.
Be a dynamic resource that encompasses all aspects of the arts and provide for the exciting exchange of idea to create enriching experiences and contribute to the quality of life within the State of Rhode Island.
Warwick Center for the Arts (WCFA) has long recognized its crucial role in maintaining a platform of dialogue and expression for the diverse populations in the region. This principle extends in direct fashion to the organization’s Board of Directors, which encourages and welcomes the active participation of any dedicated and upright member of the community regardless of age, ability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, race, religion, or socio-economics.
History of the Museum
Kentish Artillery Armory
Formed as the Kentish Light Infantry in 1797 at the recommendation of General George Washington, the group later became known as the Kentish Artillery Company & Armory. Warwick gave the Kentish Artillery permission to build its armory on the eastern portion of the town lot in 1854. Over a century later the building was given to the city.
The original Greek revival structure was destroyed by fire in 1911.The current hall has the distinction of being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by architects William R. Walker & Son, designers of the Warwick City Hall and built in 1912.
Two Revolutionary War cannons were given to the Kentish Artillery in 1804, and the building featured two cannon niches on both sides of the front door when constructed. The cannons now located in the niches are replicas because the originals disappeared in 1972 and have never been recovered.
The Kentish Guards, photo by Patty Martucci
Warwick Art Museum
In 1974 The Warwick Museum was established as part of the American Bicentennial Celebration focused on historic exhibits. After strong public interest in art, the name was changed to the Warwick Art Museum and then, in 1997, to the Warwick Museum of Art.
The City of Warwick provided exhibit space at the Pontiac Mill complex, which was procured by then Mayor Gene McCaffrey. In 1977, upon the death of the last surviving member of the Kentish Guard, the Kentish Artillery Armory, a National Historic Landmark, was deeded to the city and then rented to WMOA where it has remained ever since. The local Boys’ Club moved out of the Armory, then the last member of the Kentish Artillery passed away, so the building was deeded to the City of Warwick. Museum board members and supporters were allowed to renovate the empty space, and WMOA officially moved to its new home in 1977.
In 2008 the main gallery was renovated with a generous grant from The Champlin Foundations. Additional support from The Champlin Foundations renovated the lower level hall, art classroom, bathroom, kitchen, and storage areas. In 2014, LED lighting was added to the main gallery, and a new HVAC system was installed thanks to another grant from The Champlin Foundations. Federal funds from a Community Development Block awarded by the City of Warwick will pay for a new wheelchair lift—so the historic building will again be accessible to all visitors! In 2016, in order to better correlate with the mission and vision, the name was changed to the Warwick Center for the Arts!