Housed in a historic art deco building, the Armory provides art classes for students of all ages, exhibitions, art salons, lectures, and special events. Nearly 100 courses held in 12 state-of-the-art studios are offered including ceramics, digital arts, drawing, glass fusing, jewelry, painting, printmaking, fibers, sculpture, and 12 exhibitions are hosted annually in four galleries
The mission of the Armory Art Center is to inspire the creation and experience of art. The Armory’s vision is to be the leading visual arts education and exhibition center of the Palm Beaches.
When the Norton Museum closed its art school in 1986, a dedicated group of artists, art teachers, and community activists formed the Armory Art Center to ensure the continuation of practical art instruction in Palm Beach County. In seeking a new home for the art school, they looked to the neglected Armory building constructed in 1939 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in an Art Deco style and designed by William Manley King. The building was a National Guard Armory from 1939 to 1982. By the late 1980s, after a period of multiple community uses including high school dances, the building was scheduled for demolition when the art activists and the Palm Beach County Cultural Council came together to convince the City of West Palm Beach to spare the building from demolition and allow it to be transformed into an art center.
The Armory Art Center was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization on November 21, 1986, after the art group renovated the abandoned Art Deco structure into a vibrant space for art classes and art exhibitions. The center opened its doors to the public in July 1987 as a result of generous contributions from its many supporters, most notably Robert and Mary Montgomery and the Historic Preservation and Cultural Facilities Grants of the State of Florida. In 1992 the Armory was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Over the past three decades the Armory has taught art classes to thousands of emerging artists of all ages and cultures, exhibited art in hundreds of shows, given workshops taught by national and international visiting master artists, provided summer art camp for thousands of young people, and since the year 2000 has yearly given new artists-in-residence from around the United States and abroad the opportunity to hone their craft while teaching classes. The Armory looks to a long future of enhancing artistic life in the Palm Beaches.