The Brookline Arts Center (BAC) was founded in 1964 as a small parent cooperative for children’s art classes in the basement of Mim and Barney Berliner’s Brookline home. It was administered by volunteers and taught by a professional artist. Since 1967, the BAC has been a nonprofit educational charitable institution (501c3) serving as a community center for the visual arts for Brookline and Greater Boston.
In 1966, the BAC began efforts to acquire or lease empty Fire Station #3 on the border of Boston and Brookline. The building, designed by Peabody and Stearns and originally a chemical firehouse, was slated for demolition. In early 1968, The Town of Brookline consented to its use as an arts center and the BAC moved in. During the summer of that year, volunteers and professionals worked to clean and refurbish the building to bring the first floor up to code. On November 4, 1968, the BAC opened its first classes on the premises, and in that initial year, enrolled about 100 children. Since then, the building has been in continuous use by the BAC. We currently hold a 30-year lease with The Town of Brookline. (For more information about Fire Station #3, please visit our History of Monmouth Street Area page.)
In 1995, the landscape was renovated, following a plan by Landscape Designer and Brookline resident Mary Dewart. Thanks to a Community Development Block Grant from The Town of Brookline, handicap access was improved. In addition, numerous new trees, shrubs and groundcover were planted and a bluestone courtyard was installed in front of the building's double door facade. The courtyard was dedicated to Rosamond Vaule, first Board President and long-time supporter of the BAC, in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on October 14, 1995.
In 1999, the BAC established a scholarship endowment to provide a permanent and dependable source of assistance for need-based scholarships and outreach programs. Three years after that and after more renovation, a new gallery on the first floor was opened with the assistance of past Board President and long-time BAC supporter, Carol Hall. The gallery continues to provide a space for local, national and international artists to exhibit their work.
Our mission is as present today in all of our programs and activities as it was in our founders' basement so many years ago. With a faculty of professional working artists, rotating exhibitions and community outreach, the BAC continues to focus on providing high quality visual arts classes, exhibitions and events for our students and community.