The Thousand Islands Arts Center
(formerly The Handweaving Museum and Arts Center) is a nonprofit educational institution concerned with preserving the skills of traditional artists and artisans and supporting the heritage arts. The Arts Center maintains a year round arts curriculum, a permanent textile collection and library, two dedicated studios for weaving and pottery and a retail store which represents nearly 100 regional artists. The Arts Center also organizes additional educational programs, an annual conference and several yearly exhibitions for the public. The Arts Center’s goal is to sustain and grow this resource for artists, students, and the broader community while developing awareness, fostering skills and building appreciation for the heritage arts.
The Arts Center began as The Thousand Islands Craft School founded in Clayton in 1966. The first class had 44 students. Currently we serve over 500 students on an annual basis with a diverse demographic. Today over 100 classes are held annually focusing on a wide variety of mediums and techniques in the heritage arts.
In 1990 the Arts Center was granted a state museum charter. True to its charter the Arts Center collects preserves and interprets a permanent textile collection. Over a two year period in 2009 and 2010 we successfully completed a project made possible through a federal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The project was to digitize the entire collection and over 11,000 photographs were taken as a precursor leading to making the collection accessible to the world through a searchable database on our web site.
Since 2009 there has been a new commitment to raising the level of professionalism and building a strong and qualified staff. A name change is part of that commitment and has provided a more realistic opportunity to reach a broader audience and grow the membership base. The Arts Center currently employs three full time and one part time employee and has a membership of over 500 individuals and households.