The Rye Arts Center was founded in 1960 by five Rye families and four hundred odd dollars and was housed in an unused barn. In the sixties the Rye Art Center outgrew the barn and moved to the Rye Presbyterian Church then to the Chrysler building on Theodore Fremd Avenue, and once again to Purchase Street above the Woolworth building. In 1972, the Center moved to 51 Milton Road. The Rye Art Center offered classes and held exhibitions in the visual arts.
From 1984, when the building was vacated for safety reasons, until 1987, The Rye Art Center operated as a “center without walls” while a loyal and generous community organized to fund and carry out the 51 Milton Campaign — a $1.2 million campaign to restore and expand the Art Center’s home. The Rye Arts Center re-opened in 1987 with a facility doubled to 13,250 square feet and includes an art gallery, a MakerSpace, children and adult arts studios, a pre-school studio, a performing arts room, a dance studio, a ceramics studio, a digital arts lab, and practice rooms for music instruction.
Today, The Rye Arts Center is truly a center for art and maintains a multi-disciplinary program with a wide range of classes in the visual, performing, media and literary arts. The diverse programming consist of various art and cultural movements plus arts-in-education and public outreach services. The Center serves more than 20,000 residents annually in approximately 30 town/villages which covers a diverse region in Westchester and lower Fairfield Counties. Its programs, which cost in excess of $1,200,000 a year to operate, are supported by tuition, memberships, private and public grant-making agencies, corporate contributions, special events, and the generosity of private individuals.