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Backstage at The Bushnell

I began my visit of The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford, Connecticut with a look at The Autorino Great Hall. This outstanding space, with its 35 foot gable-vaulted ceiling, provides the perfect setting for a colossal Dale Chihuly chandelier. Its hand-blown red toned glass design brings a vivid theatrical attitude into the room’s light-filled glass-wall aesthetic.

Next, a walk through and back stage of both theaters. The opulent Art Deco interior of Mortensen Hall features a beautifully painted ceiling mural that is suspended from the roof. The magnificent mural was painted by Barry Faulkner in 1929 and is named “Drama.” Its center panel is the largest hand-painted mural of its type in the United States. Another exquisite ceiling mural entitled, "Music of the Spheres" decorates a second theater at Bushnell. The Belding Stage, intimate and lux, was built in 2001.

The last space I visited was the colonial Seaverns Room that is luxurious in its hand-carved woodwork, crystal chandeliers, and chamber stage. I particularly loved the its ornate ceiling and grand fireplace.

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I was fortunate to learn that The Bushnell was designed by, the same designers of Radio City Music Hall in New York City, Corbett, Harrison and MacMurray architectural firm. It was built in 1930 with a traditional exterior in the style of Georgian Revival. It was built to honor a Hartford resident, the Reverend Dr. Horace Bushnell by his daughter Dotha.

How did Confucius get to the Bushnell? Interestingly the nine-foot-tall bronze statue on the Center’s grounds was given to Connecticut in a 2006 art exchange by the Shandong Province in China. As a token of the 20th anniversary of our relationship with the province, Connecticut sent Shandong a bust of Mark Twain and as a surprise gesture we received the statue of Confucius in return. The Bushnell agreed to be the home of the statue, fittingly on a site across the street from the State Capitol.

In my opinion, good karma and the Bushnell Center for Performing Arts are both pluses for Connecticut.