Our History

The Bascom owes its existence to artist Watson Barratt, who had a vision to establish a permanent gallery in Highlands for the display of works created by regional artists. His bequest made possible an exhibition space in the Hudson Library beginning in 1983.

Proceeds from the sale of the Barratts' family home, on Satulah Mountain, founded The Bascom. Watson and Louise Bascom Barratt, his wife, lived part-time in Highlands. He was a longtime supporter of the Hudson Library, and his bequest to found a gallery within the new library was visionary at the time. Creating an exhibition space and permanent collection in a village of just a few hundred residents distinguished Highlands as a progressive community committed to nurturing its local talent and to celebrating its natural assets.

Even though Barratt died in 1962, his dream lived on. The plans for building the modern Hudson Library building incorporated proceeds from the estate. The Bascom-Louise Gallery within the new library was a solid volunteer endeavor that evolved over time.

In 1999, the Hudson Library and the Bascom-Louise Gallery amicably decided to separate their operations. The art center received its own not-for-profit 501(c)3 status, formed its own Board of Directors, wrote its own bylaws and hired its own staff. As an independent non-profit, the art center grew even more rapidly. It quadrupled its exhibit schedule over a six-year period, bringing in exceptional two- and three-dimensional work from all over the Southeast.

Today, the art center is transitioning again. With a new name –The Bascom–it now has a new home: a six-acre "green" campus with a 27,500 sq. ft. main building, pottery studio, covered bridge signature entrance, nature trail, café, outdoor terrace and more. Programming includes a wide range of exhibitions, a permanent art collection, high-quality art workshops, and several community events, including a wine festival, garden festival and Autumn festival.

The Bascom has developed into a beloved creative resource for art lovers and artists at all ability levels, as well as the community as a whole. Its enormous success reflects the region’s passion for the arts.

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323 Franklin Road
Highlands, NC 28741 info@thebascom.org
© 2017  The Bascom • A Center for the Visual Arts • Highlands, NC