In the late 1940s and 1950s Provincetown emerged as one of the nation’s première art locales for contemporary American art. The first major exhibition of Abstract Expressionists was held at 200 Commercial Street during Forum 49 in the summer of 1949.

Forum 49 was a summer-long series of sophisticated programs, beginning with the forum “What Is An Artist?” and ending with the controversial “French Art vs American Art Today.” Record crowds attended the exhibits of paintings and programs focused on the avant-garde in many areas, including architecture, psychoanalysis, poetry, jazz), which some have seen as a nascent event of modernism in Provincetown.