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Where to find art & culture on College Hill

College Hill is home to many historic centers of art and culture open for students to explore. From visual art to literature and film, these are three places near Brown to scratch your artistic itch.

Avon Cinema

Located right on Thayer Street, Avon Cinema is an art-deco single-screen movie theater that predominantly plays independent films from across the globe. Opened in 1938, the theater is a relic of a past world, where showtimes are displayed on an incandescent marquee and your popcorn is rung up with an analog-looking gold plated cash register.

The theater strives to play films that wouldn’t normally be shown at a large multiplex: almost always from small distributors, frequently not in English. During the Oscars season, the Avon screens all of the nominated short films in the documentary, live-action and animated categories. The Avon also frequently hosts community events, including end-of-semester short film screenings from Brown Motion Pictures (a student film-making club), concerts by student artists and the Providence French & Francophone Film Festival.


RISD Museum

Waking down College Hill, you’ll find the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design — the top destination to view fine art in Providence since its establishment in 1877. The museum’s collection contains more than 100,000 works of art, with 2,177 on view to the public, ranging from ancient Buddhist statues and Egyptian mummies to Avant Garde furniture and expressionist painting.

Split across five connected buildings, the museum supplements its permanent collection with a constant cycle of new exhibitions, making each visit a fresh experience. Currently, the museum is displaying collections of early modern Japanese woodblock prints of food, contemporary ceramics and Dutch-influenced Afro-diasporic art, to name a few. Entrance to the museum is free for all Brown students, offering a unique opportunity to view some of the greatest works of global art just a short walk from campus.

Providence Athenaeum 

Beyond serving as “the heart of cultural life in Providence” for nearly 200 years, the Athenæum on Benefit Street is the ideal Instagram study spot. Open to the public for viewing, the library is built in the Greek revival style, with picturesque stacks sheltering secluded desk cubicles.

The Athenaeum is also a functioning lending library, though checking out books requires a membership. Multiple types of tours are offered by the library that clue visitors into its collections, stunning architecture and rich history.

Visiting the Athenaeum, you’ll join the ranks of previous famous guests including Edgar Allan Poe and Providence local H.P. Lovecraft. The Athenæum houses a bronze bust of Lovecraft and books that Poe himself checked out as reminders of the library’s fascinating history. There are details to uncover in every nook and cranny of the building, which is sure to be a joy for any bookworm to explore.


Finn Kirkpatrick

Finn Kirkpatrick is the senior editor of multimedia of the Brown Daily Herald's 134th editorial board. He is a junior from Los Angeles, California studying Comparative Literature and East Asian Studies. He was previously an Arts & Culture editor and has a passion for Tetris and Mario Kart.


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