Essex Art Center

About the Member

Essex Art Center inspires and sustains lifelong growth and learning for a diverse community of artists in Greater Lawrence. Our classes, events, and exhibitions harness the power of art to transform lives.

Essex Art Center started in 1993 when three Bradford College classmates—Helen Tory, Linda Maddox, and Leslie Costello—opened a nonprofit art studio that offered classes in downtown Lawrence.

Representation Matters

Essex Art Center fosters contemporary art practices in the Merrimack Valley and recognizes that we must continue to increase diversity and equity within our organization to do so effectively.

We continue to work to attract and retain staff, Board members, instructors, and volunteers that reflect the communities we serve.

We have established outreach and relationship-building efforts with the residents of Lawrence to ensure that our community is represented within our programming and have the power to influence our work.

We believe that:

  • We must continue working to dismantle inequities within our field and the communities we serve.

  • We must continue developing community-focused programming that is welcoming and inclusive to all people from the region and beyond.

  • Artists are uniquely positioned to frame conversations and provoke reflection around pressing issues. By highlighting artists who have been historically underrepresented, including women, BIPOC, and individuals with disabilities, we are working to elevate voices that have been less heard.

The equity and inclusion practices at Essex Art Center foster an environment where staff, students, artists, and volunteers are engaged, valued, and encouraged to collaborate, generate ideas, and contribute at their highest level. We are passionate about our mission and know that our ability to achieve it begins with engaging stakeholders in our communities.

What are we doing to put these values into action:

In 2021, the Executive Director and Board Chair began participating in an eight-month Cultural Inclusion Program, which addresses the fact that our organization resides in a majority-BIPOC community, yet our Board is mostly white. The training aims to help us continue creating a welcoming culture that honors and encourages all voices. We are continuing to work to attract and retrain more BIPOC Board members from our community.


We are located in a historic mill building next to the canal in downtown Lawrence.

From the north: On route 495-S, take exit 45B for Marston Street. At the third set of lights, turn left onto a very small bridge that crosses the canal, then turn right onto Island Street. EAC is on the left, opposite the canal.

From the south: On route 495-N, take exit 44-45 and follow signs for Marston Street. At the third set of lights, turn left onto a very small bridge that crosses the canal, then turn right onto Island Street. EAC is on the left, opposite the canal.

Parking: There is ample free parking in the large lot next to our building. We have some street parking and handicap-accessible spaces in front of the building. From the parking lot, you will see a large mural on the side of our building. Enter through the brick archway on Island Street, then proceed up the wheelchair-accessible ramp.

Public Transportation: The Lawrence Commuter Rail Station is located at South Union and Merrimack Streets, less than a ten-minute walk from the Essex Art Center. You can check train schedules here.

Opening Hours
10:00 am - 6:00 pm
10:00 am - 6:00 pm
10:00 am - 6:00 pm
10:00 am - 6:00 pm
9:30 am - 1:30 pm
10:00 am - 5:00 pm