Mission & History

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Mission: to enrich our community through contemporary art


Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center exhibits a wide variety of contemporary paintings, sculpture, and crafts by outstanding regional and national artists. The Gallery, adjacent to Merchants Square and the Historic Area in Williamsburg, Virginia, occupies a unique 1920 Sears Roebuck house that was modernized in the 1980s.

Our history

In 1959, in back porch discussions between two women, a concept for a new kind of gallery was formed. Christine Bullock and Sandy Shifflett gathered together a group of like-minded individuals to share ideas. They explored the concept of a gallery that would provide a “stimulating and meaningful new experience to the Williamsburg cultural life, while seeking to balance contemporary art against the traditional background of the eighteenth century capital.” They obtained additional assistance from Washington galleries, threw in $25 each as operating capital and incorporated as the non-profit Twentieth Century Gallery.

Their concept became reality with the subsequent rental of an eighteenth century tenement building on Nicholson which was still open to traffic.  The building called Redwood Ordinary required extensive renovations that were undertaken by the board and volunteers. The first floor gallery housed four exhibition rooms, studio space for adult and children’s classes, an office, storage and a restroom. 

In 1971, Nicholson Street closed to traffic and the Gallery moved operations to the basement of the Craft House in Merchants Square where it thrived for ten years. 


In 1982, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation offered the organization free space in a converted Sears Roebuck catalog house on North Boundary Street where it stills operates today.

In 2000, the organization changed its name to This Century Art Gallery in recognition of the new millennium. 

In 2011, it expanded its Art Education program to include more art education and community outreach programs. These included additional opportunities for children and adults to engage in art on many levels.

In 2015, This Century Art Gallery changed its name to Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center to more fully reflect what the organization has become.  “Contemporary” because that is still our focus – art of today.  “Art Center” because we are so much more than just a gallery.


The Gallery is a volunteer-operated, nonprofit organization. Members give their time generously to manage Gallery business and to run the many programs it offers. 

Membership fees and sales help support the Gallery. Major exhibitions open monthly with a preview reception for members and their guests. 

If you would like to become involved in the Gallery, you can learn how to join with us, or just sign up to volunteer for us.

Please do!