Local Color: The Arts Are Alive & Growing in the Bradenton Area


If you love the arts, it’s easy to feel at home in the Bradenton Area. Whether you’re a creator, collector, or casual admirer, there are opportunities to enjoy all around – like a trip to downtown Bradenton’s ArtCenter Manatee, the county’s premier visual arts center. A must-see the next time you’re in town, they’re always bringing in new, inspiring collections, in addition to offering classes and events designed to bring out the artist in us all.

Walking into the art center, you’ll instantly feel the creative energy. The space features three galleries that change monthly to showcase local, regional, and national artists; a gift shop filled with one-of-a-kind artisan wares; and a handful of studios where its more than 350 classes are taught. Classes are for all skill levels and cover various media, including pottery, drawing, watercolor, silversmithing, glass fusion, and more. Art Center members can also flip through 3,000 volumes’ worth of inspiration in the facility’s library.

aerial view of herrig center for the arts rendering

The art center is located on the corner of 9th Street and 3rd Avenue, just over the Green Bridge – and if you visit before the end of 2024, you’ll also get an in-progress look at its exciting next chapter, the Herrig Center for the Arts. This state-of-the-art building, taking shape just next door, will soon be the new home (and name) of ArtCenter Manatee when it’s finished later this year.

And that can’t come soon enough for Executive Director Carla Nierman. “We are definitely overcrowded right now and looking forward to a new building,” she says with an eager smile.

Nierman, who is also an artist and clearly loves her job, is thrilled that she and her staff will be able to share the arts with even more people. The new center is a milestone that would surely make the organization’s founders happy, too – and maybe even a bit surprised! A small group of artists first began the art center back in 1937 as a place for people to get together and learn about art. It’s grown substantially over the years, first gathering in what’s now Pier 22 restaurant, then moving across the street to the current space, and now relocating yet again.

Local Color: The Arts Are Alive & Growing in the Bradenton Area

rendering of new Herrig Center for the arts entrance

With the new 28,000-square-foot building – which has already won an AIA award for its iconic architecture – the art center will triple its space and be able to offer even more opportunities for not only studying and appreciating art, but also coming together as a community in the added event and meeting space. Outside of the building itself, the expansion will bring a new community park to the area, creating a beautiful entrance into Bradenton.

“Once we move into the new building, we will take [our current] building down and this whole corner … will become greenspace and a sculpture garden,” explained Nierman. “It’s something we really wanted to do for our community … to find that delicate balance between greenspace and development.”

Nierman also shared that the corner of 9th and 3rd will be renamed “Avenue of the Arts” – an apt designation indeed.

Ready for a visit? ArtCenter Manatee remains open during construction: Monday, Friday, Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Parking is available in the River Dance garage, north of the building. For current exhibitions, class offerings, and details about the expansion, check their website.

woman with two canvases teaching an art class