Studio 550 Art Center is a place for artists of all ages and backgrounds to create a community based around the arts in Manchester, New Hampshire. The Art Center offers classes for children and adults as well as studio space and residencies to local artists.

1.About Studio 550 Art Center

About Studio 550 Art Center
© Studio 550 Art Center

Studio 550 Art Center was founded Monica Leap, a first generation American whose parents fled communist Cambodia in the 1980’s. The studio opened in 2012 with a mission to bring all of the arts back to the Manchester community and get adults to play like kids again through pottery, dance, and other artistic mediums.

A space in the front of the studio is used as a gallery to display student art work. Artists in the community also have an opportunity to rent private studio space where they can take residency for long term or short term. There are even apartments in the same building as the studio and staff can help artists find suitable living arrangements during their residency; however, studio 550 Art Center does not provide these accommodations.

Arts Classes

The main attraction to Studio 550 is the vast array of art classes offered to children age 1.5 through adult. Most classes are offered in sessions with weekly classes that can be signed up for online or in person at the studio.

Children’s Art Classes:

1.5-4 Years Old

· Toddler Sensory Play Groups- Based on developing fine and gross motor skills through Montessori principals, toddlers come together to play through sensory activities where they can explore with or without parent involvement. Parents must remain onsite however.

3-5 Years Old

· Parent and Child Art- This 10-week course uses clay, paint, and other craft materials to engage children and their parents in making fun art projects to take home.

· Family Clay Workshop- Every first Saturday this wheel-throwing class is offered and is open to children as young as 3 but is most appropriate for children 9 and older who can work on their own so parents can also make a piece. Children under 9 can hand sculpt their clay rather than use the wheel.

5-7 Years, 7-9 Years, 10+ Years Old

· Home School Art- This once per week, 10-week course mixes clay and 2D art with inspirations from master artists around the world, nature and imagination.

· After School Art- This course is offered for 8 weeks and is for students who want to get more exposure to clay and 2D art outside of their school system

· School Vacation Art Camps- These camps change based on season and interest. Many camps focus on clay and the pottery wheel.

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2.More Art Classes

More Art Classes
© Studio 550 Art Center

Teen and Adult Art Classes (15 years+)

· Art Class Sample Pack- Perfect for beginners, this class offers a crash course in five different medias and includes five classes that are 2-3 hours in length. Pottery, stained glass, book making, drawing, and watercolor with all materials provided will be covered.

· Acrylic Painting- An introductory class to the art of acrylics will be covered in this 10-week course that is offered 4 times per year. Materials will need to be purchased prior to the class.

· Watercolor Painting- This 8-week beginner-intermediate watercolor class is taught by a master watercolor artist who has been teaching watercolor for over 20 years. Students will learn basic color theory and how to show 3D space.

· Stained Glass- This class has the option of 5 or 10 week courses with a maximum of 5 students per class. Students much purchase their own glass, but all other materials are provided.

· Pottery- Open to all skill levels, this class will teach how to throw on the pottery wheel or work independently if your skills are more advanced. The class ends with a potluck. Glazing and firing costs are not including in the class price. You can also choose to build by hand. This class is offered 4-5 days per week.

· Book Binding and Book Arts- students learn the art of book making and binding from single page to pamphlets, origami and cards/envelopes and more. Participants are welcome to bring in their own specialty paper or stationary, but materials will be provided. Future workshops include coptic and sewn binding such as tape, French, and stab. There are also workshops for up-cycling books, tunnel books, and more based on demand and interest.

· Drawing- An 8-week course for the beginner artist, students will learn the basics of how to draw lines and shape and work up to shading and proportions. Concepts such as contour, negative and positive space, and representational drawing are taught in this class. A materials list will be provided and students will need to purchase these materials prior to the class.

Workshops for Teens and Adults

For those interested in Studio 550, but not able to commit to an 8 or 10-week art class, the teachers do offer 1 day workshops for teens and adults. They also offer special events where visiting artists from around the country and locally come to offer classes in leather working, jewelry making, yarn spinning, weaving, and other art forms.

· Figure Drawing- This workshop is held on one Saturday each month for 2.5 hours where participants will be able to engage in an open format, non-instructed workshop with a nude model. Models will alternate monthly between male and female. Artists are welcome to use whatever medium they are comfortable with and must provide their own materials.

· Try Pottery! - Every Saturday from 3-6pm the Studio is open to anyone who wishes to get their hands dirty and try clay working for the first time. The workshop is divided into two segments—hand working clay and using the wheel. Students will be able to take two of their pieces home with them.

· Try Stained Glass! – This glass is designed to get a feel for working with stained glass before signed up for the full 10-week course. Participants will learn how to cut, copper foil, and solder their glass. They will also get to take their glass home.

· Date Night- Perfect for couples or best friends, Date Night is offered on Friday and Saturday nights and includes a pottery lesson before being set loose on the wheels to design your own piece of clay art. One piece per person is included in the cost.

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3.Plan your Visit

Plan your Visit
© Studio 550 Art Center

Special Events

Studio 550 is not only known for their amazing art classes, but also for the events that they welcome the community to. Some of these events happen annually while others are special events. Studio 550 also sponsors events throughout the community so not all events take place on the property. Below is a list of annual events that the community can look forward to.

Annual Cup Show and Sale- Every November a juried show is put on through January that featured cups from around the country that are unique and clever. This makes for great Holiday shopping and gifting.

Chalk the Block: Chalk Art Competition- Sponsored by Studio 550 and other community organizations.

Handmade Holiday Market- Hosted at Studio 550, several artists gather to sell their handmade creations the Saturday before Thanksgiving (Small Business Saturday).

Pie Day: March 14th- Yearly pie competition between local bakeries hosted by Studio 550.

Monsters on the Loose- 100 monsters are created from clay every summer and hidden throughout downtown Manchester. One Albino monster is created and the finder wins a special prize from the studio.

High School Clay Challenge- Teams from across New Hampshire high schools compete through 8 different events that are 10 minutes or less and all involving clay in this massive competition each May.


There are other programs that go beyond the realm of community art classes at Studio 550 such as the artist’s residency program. This program allows professional artists to apply for short or long term residency programs at the studio where they can rent space to work and develop their talent. Artists can also be commissioned for works and the studio staff can help put you in touch with the right talent for exactly the piece you are looking for, including custom wedding plates and stationary.

Corporate parties and team building activities are also popular at Studio 550. The staff can help you design the perfect 1-3-hour workshop for your team.

The Clay for Kids Program is funded by adult art classes and brings a mobile clay studio to nonprofit organizations that work with kids who would not otherwise be able to have access to Studio 550. The studio also is sometimes able to provide scholarships to students to come to the studio for classes. The mobile studio can also be reserved for birthday parties, art therapy, private events and more.

The Tea Room and Shopping

The tea room is connected to the Studio and is part of the experience. Enjoy a cup of tea served in the tea room or purchase loose leaf tea to take home. The tea shop is open when the studio is and can also be rented for private events. There will be special programming in the tea room such as tastings, tea parties, live music, and more. Potters at the studio can also make your very own customized mug to use in the Tea Room, or try a cup of each of the 24 teas on the menu within 6 months to earn your very own mug for free!

The artists and teachers at Studio 550 also have many of their works for sale. You can purchase one of a kind art through the website or in person by visiting Studio 550.

Back to: Manchester things to do

550 Elm Street, Manchester, New Hampshire, 03101, website, Phone: 603-232-5597

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Day Trip Ideas: Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester, New Hampshire