Gateway Arts was originally established in 1973 by the Developmental Disabilities Unit of the Massachusetts Mental Health Center to provide day services for eight adults. It was part was part of the court-ordered consent decree calling for de-institutionalization of individuals in state schools and the establishment of community-based services. Originally named Gateway Crafts the program was located in a small basement studio at 1291 Commonwealth Avenue in Allston. In 1978, Gateway Crafts became a component of the newly incorporated Vinfen.
In 1980 the program expanded its services and moved to its current location in Brookline Village. The new site was a professional, well-lit studio with a small on-site store. An additional 5,000 square feet of space was added in 1994 to accommodate an increased demand for services for people with psychiatric disabilities, autism, cerebral palsy, visual, hearing, cognitive impairment, and head injuries.
In 1995, the program opened an onsite outsider art gallery, the first of its kind in Boston. In 1998, Gateway Crafts opened studio space at 58A Harvard Street to accommodate the growing needs of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. In 2000, Gateway Crafts expanded the jewelry studio, opened the Gateway Crafts Store at 60 Harvard Street, and established a 12-member advisory committee.
Gateway Crafts was renamed Gateway Arts in 2001. Gateway Arts studios comprise the entire second floor at 60- 62 Harvard Street in Brookline Village. Gateway Arts has the privilege of being one of twenty comprehensive art centers for individuals with disabilities worldwide.
Read Outsider Art: the Studio Art Movement and Gateway Arts by Rae Edelson (Director, Gateway Arts) to learn more about the international history of outsider art studios and Gateway’s place in that history.