Located at the site of a former hatchery and overlooking the Delaware River, ArtYard’s main building at 13 Front Street, completed in May 2021, is home to our year-round exhibition, live performance, and film programs. This building houses the John & Lynn Kearney Gallery, the River Gallery, The McDonnell Theater (162-seat) with Café/Bar, ArtYard’s Offices, and a spacious riverside courtyard for outdoor installations and gatherings.

Amenities —
  • John & Lynn Kearney Gallery
  • River Gallery
  • The McDonnell Theater
  • VSG (Very Small Galleries)
  • Café/bar

ArtYard's Front Courtyard
Architects Ed Robinson and William Welch designed ArtYard’s new building. Longtime friends and collaborators, Welch and Robinson aimed to construct a building that embedded a sophisticated modern art center within a structure that nodded both to the site’s original use and to the architectural language of the town.
The John & Lynn Kearney Gallery
The John and Lynn Kearney Gallery is the upper level gallery, and is 2,632 square feet. Its large west-facing windows overlook the Delaware River, and the clerestory overhead admits natural light.
The River Gallery
The lower-level gallery is 1850 square feet, with a small 206 square foot adjacent room, allowing limited natural light. With 60 movable wall panels and three mechanically-operated window shades, the galleries can be designed and configured specifically for the needs of each exhibition.
The McDonnell Theater during construction
Set for completion in late Summer 2021, the Stephen McDonnell Theater will be home to our live performance and film programs, where we will present poetry, music, performance and film screenings, in addition to artist talks and symposia.
The McDonnell Theater near completion
Artist Willie Cole's monumental chandelier constructed of plastic water bottles floats above the ArtYard auditorium, with 152 fixed seats and 10 movable handicapped-accessible seats. The seats are environmentally-friendly, repurposed from a theater in Durham, North Carolina, and refurbished by local artisans.

Background + History

The new ArtYard building at 13 Front Street serves as the permanent home of ArtYard’s exhibition, theater and film program.

The property at 13 Front Street was originally envisioned as a stand-alone art exhibition space, with the now ArtYard Workshop intended to serve as the Stephen McDonnell Theater. But the necessity of operating both programs at 62A Trenton Avenue during the design process highlighted the advantages of a dual-purpose facility, leading to the design of one building that suited both requirements with a location closer to the heart of Frenchtown. We had come to the realization that the intersection of art and live programming enlivened both projects: people who came to see a film would linger to see the exhibition afterward, and the galleries began to function as a vibrant third space, or town square, as we had hoped.

The building site at 13 Front Street was formerly Kerr’s Chickeries. Architects Ed Robinson and William Welch designed the new building on the site of the old hatchery, inspired by historical photographs of Frenchtown’s industrial roots. Third-generation family business W.S. Cumby served as the general contractor.

“We searched everywhere for the right place to launch ArtYard, visiting sites abroad and in the American West before concluding that Frenchtown was the ideal town. For decades Frenchtown has quietly attracted independent-minded creative types who enjoy living cheek by jowl with fifth-generation town families, of which Mayor Brad Myhre is one. But it’s a low-key town that doesn’t trumpet itself. I did not ‘discover’ Frenchtown, but came to realize what was already here, hiding in plain sight. From the moment we opened our doors I saw that the town was  humming with creative life, with book artists, poets, composers and award-winning chefs.”

— Jill Kearney, Founder & Executive Director