In the years between World War I and II, the opulent Palace Theater in downtown Waterbury was the city’s cultural hub.
It is again, after a $30 million renovation transformed the run-down Beaux-Arts beauty into a performing arts center. The Palace, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, has at least eight different performance series to reach a broad audience. From country music to Broadway shows, comedy performances to children's theater, the Palace has something for everyone.
The venue also teams up with nearby Waterbury Arts Magnet School and works with other local arts organizations.
Waterbury has plenty, including the area’s only Actor’s Equity professional theater. Seven Angels Theatre puts on 200 performances a year; in 16 years the line-up has included more than 80 Equity productions – 18 of them world premiers. Shakesperience Productions uses language and movement to make Shakespeare and other classics more accessible, taking its shows to schools, parks and its new studio downtown.
The city has its own symphony, chorale and ballet.
History and commerce are reflected in the Timexpo Museum in the Brass Mill Commons Mall on Union Street. The “takes a licking but keeps on ticking” Timex got launched in Waterbury with U.S. Time Co., which had started in the 1850s as Waterbury Clock.
The museum has a time tunnel, an incredible collection of timepieces that includes the original Mickey Mouse watch from the 1930s and hands-on stuff for kids.
At the Mattatuck Museum Arts and History Center, the passage of time also gets big play. Its mission is to interpret the history of the region and contemporary as well as historic Connecticut art. Recent exhibits looked at Latin American and Caribbean life and art in Connecticut and the reign of “Little Miss Sunbeam,” the American icon that helped sell Sunbeam bread, made by Waterbury’s Reymond Baking Co.
And in May 2008, a new, permanent interactive exhibit opened that explores Waterbury’s history and connects today to times gone by.